When the movie opens up Kaa (voiced by Cate Blanchett), the all-knowing boa constrictor tells us that she has seen man bring darkness and chaos to the jungle. We see people running for their lives in the jungle as a mother carries her baby and stumbles to the ground. Suddenly Shere Khan (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), the magnificent Bengal tiger, jumps near the mother and chases after her, killing her. We then see the tiger go after a man. As we look at the mother’s empty shoes, Kaa tells us that Shere Khan has broken the law of the jungle and killed men. We then see the black panther, Bagheera (voiced by Christian Bale) searching for survivors from Shere Khan’s attack. As the camera pans up to see the baby, Kaa tells us that this boy will save the jungle. Bagheera has found the baby and has to decide what to do with it. The baby isn’t scared of the panther and seems quite at home in the jungle. Bagheera hears Shere Khan rumbling about and decides to take the baby as Kaa looks on the scene of the panther now moving the baby deeper into the jungle. Bagheera gently puts the baby down in front of the wolf den and slowly backs away, retreating into the cover of the jungle to watch what will happen next. A young wolf finds the baby, and once again the baby shows no sign of being afraid. Vihaan (voiced by Eddie Marsan)and his mate, Nisha (voiced by Naomie Harris) come out of the den and inspect the baby noting that it isn’t hurt and is not afraid of them. Just then the hyena Tabaqui (voiced by Tom Hollander) comes onto the scene. The wolves turn to protect the baby, who Tabaqui is excited to see. We hear Shere Khan roar and Tabaqui takes off to find him, shouting out that he has ‘found the man-cub.’ Vihaan and Nisha talk about going before the council to get their blessing to keep the man-cub.
Next, we see the majestic Akela (voiced by Pete Mullan), the leader of the pack and the council. We see that the council is comprised of the pack of wolves, Bagheera the panther and Baloo (voiced by Andy Serkis), the giant bear. Vihaan pleads to the council and Akela to be allowed to keep the man-cub. The baby is presented in front of Akela as he asks Nisha and Vihaan if they genuinely want to keep the man-cub and raise it as one of their own. They reply that they do and then Akela asks for two of the council to stand up for the man-cub. Bagheera places a dead antelope in front of Akela and states that he speaks for the man-cub and the law says the life of a cub can be bought for a price and here is his payment. Even with Bagheera’s urging, Baloo won’t speak for the man-cub stating the man-cub doesn’t belong in the jungle. Akela moves close to the baby to get a better look, staring into the man-cub’s eyes. Just then Shere Khan with Tabaqui by his side enters stating that he killed the man-cub’s parents and that no one will come looking for him. The tiger says that because he killed the man-cub’s parents, the man-cub is his. Akela tells Shere Khan that the pack protects the man-cub and if the tiger wants to take Akela on, the tiger will be taking on the whole pack. After the pack, including the bear and the panther growl menacingly at the tiger, Shere Khan backs off after Akela tells the tiger that as long as he leads the pack, this part of the jungle is off-limits to Shere Khan. The tiger tells the leader of the pack that the minute he loses his leadership the tiger will kill the man-cub. The tiger and his hyena pal leave and Akela proclaims that the man-cub is a now a member of the pack and as long as Akela is alive the man-cub will be protected. This man-cub, now named Mowgli, will someday be asked to take on Shere Khan and save the jungle along with the pack.
With ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ director Andy Serkis takes us on a magical joinery about the man-cub Mowgli (Rohan Chand) and his quest to become a wolf. Using gorgeous CGI, the film brings the Rudyard Kipling story to life. It’s an enchanting and fascinating film that is very different from other versions of this story. This is a film that is not for young kids, as there is quite a bit of violence, some of it very bloody, plus Shere Khan, the tiger, and Kaa, the snake, are both very menacing and scary. The film is full of moral decisions, what is allowed and what is not in the jungle is always part of the narrative. Mowgli knows he is different from the rest of the pack but so wants to belong that he is willing to do just about anything to be a part of it. Mowgli along with his best friend, the albino wolf Bhoot (voiced by Louis Ashbourne Serkis) try to feel a part of the pack but sometimes they both feel like what some of the other wolves call them, freaks.
While Shere Khan is the villain of the story making it his mission to kill Mowgli, he is doing what he thinks is right in protecting the jungle from man. You have the noble leader of the pack, Akela, who almost to a fault is determined to always follow the laws of the jungle. You then have Bagheera, the panther that cares deeply for Mowgli but feels that it would be in the best interest of the man-cub to leave the jungle and go live with his own kind.
The voice cast is stellar with Christian Bale voicing the panther Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the cruel tiger Shere Khan and Andy Serkis voicing the lovable big bear Baloo. Cumberbatch does such an outstanding job as Shere Khan that I didn’t know it was him until the credits ran. Rohan Chand as the wide-eyed and brave Mowgli is the star of this film. Chand holds his own with the big named voice cast and makes us believe that all the creatures he interacts with are real. Chand has to display a whole range of emotions from happiness to fear as he plays the determined man-cub and does a phenomenal job with the part.
Overall, this is a spellbinding and marvelous film with exciting action sequences and a moving storyline. So go on Netflix and explore the jungle and all its creatures with the man-cub named Mowgli, you won’t regret it.
My Rating: Full Price
Mike’s movie rating system from best to worst:
1). I Would Pay to See it Again
2). Full Price
3). Bargain Matinee
5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again