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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review – Four Stars! Awesome, Stunning

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, from Netflix and Warner Bros. Pictures, brings a darker tale of Rudyard Kipling's timeless classic to the screen with Mowgli, challenged, broken and returning to protect the only family he has ever known.

Directed by Andy Serkis Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle stars Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Peter Mullan, Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto, Eddie Marsan, Jack Reynor, Matthew Rhys, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, George Farmer, Lorna Brown, with Rohan Chand as Mowgli. Based on The Jungle Book, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, was adapted to the screen by Callie Kloves.

The film begins with voice over as Kaa, voiced by Cate Blanchett, a green, grey, black boa constrictor, as she twists and weaves through the underbrush, whispering the story of Shere Khan, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who broke the law of the jungle attacking and killing two humans leaving a man-cub, who is found by Bagheera, a black panther, voiced by Christian Bale.


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The man-cub still covered with his parents blood is delivered to the wolf pack. The wolves call counsel and Akela, voiced by Peter Mullen, leader of the wolf pack defends the man-cub against the demands of Shere Khan who declares to Akela "one day you'll miss your kill and then the man-cub will be mine."

But for this day, the man-cub has a new home with the Wolves. He has a brother wolf, voiced by Jack Reynor, and friends, Baloo, a black bear, voiced by Andy Serkis, an albino cub friend, Bhoot, voiced by Louis Ashbourne Serkis and a home.

We meet Mowgli, played by Rohan Chand, as an adolescent, growing into a wolf with curiosity as the mysteries and the dangers of the jungle each hold an allure to the boy caught between two worlds.

As he grows, the wolf pack continues to groom him and the other wolf cubs for the test, the right of passage so they will join the adult males on the nightly hunts. With Baloo as the trainer, they are each taught to maneuver through the jungle on an obstacle type course with Bagheera, who is told not to hold back. Needless to say, he is harder on the one he cares for the most.

As Mowgli grows the jungle changes also, with man encroaching further into the thick undergrowth, ways of man, their weapons and the mysterious glowing red jewel that lights the night and causes intense pain, are everywhere. Evidence of an evil intent, to kill and destroy, follow each footstep of those in the camps.

The elders of the wolf pack have determined the jungle is not safe for Mowgli anymore and the time has come for him to go to the only place where he will be safe from Shere Khan, who has vowed to kill him, and that is the man village.


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I really enjoyed this film. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, which is not to say I didn't like the other telling's as each story has its place. The stunning 3-D with eye-popping neon colors, the visual effects, an attention to detail and a jungle full of living creatures, from the great to the small all become larger than life.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is the retelling of the classic and as Director Andy Serkis explains, "they tried to stay as close to the actual time period as possible."

So as Colonial India is the time frame, the ways of the villagers, also very important in the telling of how Mowgli finds himself and discovers his true purpose, are presented authentically.

Establishing the season, staying within the boundaries of the time frame of the book, is easier when dealing with the hunter as we see more of the practices that were acceptable. In the jungle, time as we know it ceases to exist, there is only age, growth and the rising and setting of the sun and the challenges for superiority, which he also clearly presents.

The 3-D is jump from the screen state of the art, and is thrilling. When the effects cause the audience to experience a physical reaction it is obvious they have captured the essence of life in the jungle. The attention to detail is also obvious even down to an ant crawling across a discarded shoe in the beginning sequences. It was genuinely amazing work.


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The motion capture work, a specialty of Mr. Serkis, as he has played Ceasar the The Planet of The Apes film triology, has the actor wearing a motion capture suit and through a series of choreographed movements depicting the physical movements of the animal in which they play the motion is captured and transferred to the screen where the rendering takes place. The voice over work adds the life to the magic of the motion capture. It is an stunning process with jaw dropping results.

The end product, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, is an extraordinarily brilliant collaboration between actors, director, sound editing, mixing and 3D artistry.

Impressive from start to finish, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, a huge fantastical journey tells an mind-blowingly incredible story.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle opens for a limited theatrical engagement December 7, 2018 and streams on Netflix thereafter. Treat yourself and see it in 3D.

 

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