Film Review: Mowgli (USA/UK 2018)***

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Poster

A human child raised by wolves must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan, as well as his own origins.


Andy Serkis


Callie Kloves (screenplay by), Rudyard Kipling (based on the stories of)

MOWGLI is a curiosity piece, a non-Walt Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK.  Made by Warner Bros and and slotted for release in 2016 the same time as Disney’s live action THE JUNGLE BOOK, with both films based on the Rudyard Kipling stories, MOWGLI was delayed two years and in the meantime got bought over by Netflix.  After an initial November release in the theatres, MOWGLI can presently be seen on Netflix.  Needless to day, watching it on the big screen in 3-D is optimal, as expressed by director Serkis himself.  MOWGLI is a quality film like many of he new Netflix originals these days, the most notable being ROMA which is also playing and likely to be nominated for Best Foreign Film.

The story runs along the same lines as the animated Disney’s 60’s full length cartoon and its 2016 live action version.

MOWGLI begins with the appearance in the jungle of Kaa (Cate Blancette), an Indian python seer, watches as Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), a crippled Bengal tiger, breaks jungle law by hunting down a family of humans, with only the child escaping.  Bagheera (Christian Bale), drawn to the scene, rescues the man-cub, Mowgli (Rowan Chand), and takes him to a family of wolves being raised by Nisha (Naomi Harris) and Vihaan (Eddie Marsan), only for Tabaqui (Tom Haollander), Shere Khan’s hyena follower, to find the boy before he is chased off.  They take the infant Mowgli before the wolf council and Akela (Peter Mullan), the pack leader, to decide his fate, with Bagheera buying his life with a kill and Baloo strong-armed into agreeing. Shere Khan arrives to kill Mowgli, but Akela stops him, saying the boy is now a member of the pack and forces Shere Khan to leave, but not before the tiger vows to return.

The story goes on with Mowgli discovering his own kind (the man village).  The climax is the fight between MOWGLI and There Khan.  Kaa intervenes to save Mowgl near the end.

Serkis’ versions the most serious of all the JUNGLE BOOK film, undoubtedly.  There are scenes where carcasses are eaten.  The animals like the slimy python, Kaa look incredibly real and therefore scary – perhaps too scary for children under the age of 10.  A few sentimental hogwash segments like Nisha telling Mowgli that he belongs, no matter what others say, could have been dispensed with.  The film is also too playful for adults.  One wonders the target audience of the filmmakers.

The time gap between Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK and MOWGLI helps.  For one, many would have forgotten the main story- and if not at least a few key plot points.  

Netlflix buying the film from Warner Bros. is likely a good thing as this gives the film a different distribution, be in cables subscribers.  The chance of losing money on this one is less as well.  The cost of production is not listed but it must be up there in the millions, as the film’s special effects are exceptional.




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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APESAfter the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Stars: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

Review by Gilbert Seah
The original PLANET OF THE APES films were camp and occasionally goofy. They were never taken that seriously. The first featured Charlton Heston stripped naked so that the audience could see his bare buttocks and ended with him cursing God after discovering the Stature of Liberty half buried in the sand.

This followed with BENEATH THE PLANT OF THE APES where subterranean creatures were battling the apes that ending with Earth blowing up. What next? ESCAPE FROM, CONQUEST and the most ridiculous BATTLE FOR which ended the series.

The series reboot began similarly with PLANET OF THE APES flowed by RISE and DAWN OF and now WAR FOR. The primary difference is that the reboot series is serious fodder. The camp and fun is gone. What is left is a serious man vs. ape and the fight for what is right, things that also can get quite ridiculous. When things get ridiculous, the series will end.

The plot takes place two years after the events of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes have been embroiled in a war against humans. As the ape population decreases, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts (isn’t the film serious enough?) in order to avenge his fallen companions. The encounter with the apes and humans puts them into the ultimate confrontation, to determine the fate of the Earth. But the plot is not as simple as it sounds. It also involves a mad colonel (Woody Harrelson) a kind of Marlon Brando character from APOCALYPSE NOW. (There is a poster with the words APEPOCALYPSE NOW, as if the similarity is not already evident.)

The actual war involves two factions of human beings – one led by the colonel who believes that sick human begin should be totally destroyed and the other the rest of the world who believe that the sick can be cured. The apes are caught in between. The problem with all this is the oversimplified plot. What about the other nations of the world like he Chinese, Indians etc. Also, the number of apes can never outnumber the number of humans, though the excuse given is the virus that eliminated most of the human population.

Caesar leads the apes out of the jungle to the new land like Moses in the Bible’s old Testament. The analogy is so obvious and makes the film even more serious for the fact. To the filmmakers’ credit, the film has excellent production values and looks absolutely stunning on film.

So what is the attraction of the PLANET OF THE APES films? Someone once told me he wanted to go see it because he was so obsessed with seeing apes riding horses with rifles slung round their backs. The question is whether the fascination will hold after 4 or 5 similar films. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the 4th of the reboot series and cost a whopping a amount of money with a running time of 140 minutes. Perhaps enough is enough!

Trailer: v=UEP1Mk6Un98

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Happy Birthday: Andy Serkis

andyserkisHappy Birthday actor Andy Serkis

Born: Andrew Clement G. Serkis
April 20, 1964 in Ruislip, London, England, UK

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

dir. Michael Winterbottom
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movie posterTHE COTTAGE
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SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLLSex and Drugs and Rock and Roll
dir. Mat Whitecross
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dir. Iain Softley
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THE TWO TOWERSLord of the Rings: The Two Towers
dir. Jackson
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dir. Rupert Wyatt
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Andy Serkis

THE RETuRN OF THE KINGThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
dir. Jackson

KING KONG Movie PosterKing Kong
dir. Jackson
Jack Black
Naomi Watts
Adrian Brody

dir. Steven Spielberg
Jamie Bell
Andy Serkis

movie posterBURKE AND HARE
dir. John Landis
Bill Bailey
Tom Wilkinson