By Dave B.
In Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (Netflix), Mowgli is orphaned as a baby when tiger Shere Khan murders his mother. Mowgli is rescued and raised by wolves. As he grows, his life is happy, but he never fully fits in with the wolf pack and his life is constantly threatened by Shere Khan who has a hatred for humans in general and for Mowgli in particular. Mowgli is faced with the choice of remaining in the jungle with the only family he’s ever known, or of going to live with humans, where he can more fully belong and be free from the tiger’s wrath, but who’s presence threatens his pristine, but fragile home.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the timing of Mowgli is terrible, with another Jungle Book remake having come out recently. All things being equal, this movie probably shouldn’t have been made for at least another 3-5 years. Fortunately, all things aren’t equal and we get to see Andy Serkis’ directorial vision of this enduring story. Considering that I’ve never really been a fan of any version of The Jungle Book, I was pleasantly surprised by how much this movie captured my interest.
For starters, Mowgli is visually stunning. From the jungle vistas to the animals that inhabit them, this movie is worth seeing for the visual experience alone. More importantly, despite a fairly pedestrian and predictable plot, Mowgli leverages a powerhouse cast and an appropriate simplicity of spirit to tell a compelling coming of age story where the protagonist must find balance between two starkly different worlds while coming to terms with both of his fundamental heritages. This striving for balance and recognition (but not necessarily acceptance) from his friends and family is a theme that resonates with me and will likely resonate with many others in a society where being defined, labelled, and or boxed into any single category feels overly simplistic at best, and intolerable at worst.
I make no claim that Mowgli is a perfect movie. Parts of it’s plot are threadbare at times and at 104 minutes, it may have been a more complete movie if it had been 10-20 minutes longer and more committed to the development of some of its supporting characters. That said, I liked this movie and I recommend it. It’s a slap in Disney’s and a successful one at that. Give this movie a shot. Even if you end up not particularly caring for the story, you’ll love how Mowgli delights your senses.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.