Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a 2018 fantasy adventure film directed by Andy Serkis with a screenplay by Callie Kloves, based on stories collected in All the Mowgli Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The film stars Rohan Chand, Matthew Rhys, and Freida Pinto, along with voice and motion capture performances from Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, and Serkis.
Talks of a new Jungle Book film from Warner Bros. Pictures began in 2012 and various directors, including Steve Kloves, Ron Howard, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, were approached before Serkis was confirmed in March 2014. Much of the cast signed on that August and principal photography began in March 2015. Filming took place in South Africa and at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England.
Originally scheduled to be released in October 2016 by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film was delayed numerous times to work on the visual effects and to create space between itself and the April 2016 release of Walt Disney Pictures’ own Jungle Book adaptation. In July 2018, Warner Bros. Pictures sold the rights for the film to Netflix. The film was released in select theaters on November 29, 2018, followed by its subsequent digital Netflix release on December 7, 2018. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the cast, visual effects, and Serkis’ passion for the project, but compared it unfavorably to the Disney film and criticized the uneven tone, calling it a “messy—if ambitious—misfire”.
In the jungle, Kaa watches as Shere Khan, a crippled Bengal tiger, breaks jungle law by killing a family of humans, with only the child escaping. Bagheera, drawn to the scene, rescues the man-cub, Mowgli, and takes him to a family of wolves being raised by Nisha and Vihaan, only for Tabaqui, Shere Khan’s hyena follower, to discover the boy before he is chased off. They take the infant Mowgli before the wolf council and Akela, 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.
For many years after, Mowgli lives amongst the wolf pack. One day, Mowgli goes swimming alone and encounters Shere Khan. He manages to escape the tiger, and is brought home by Bagheera. Though Bagheera reveals to Mowgli that he is a human and he will be safe if he goes to the Man-Village, Mowgli states that he wishes to be a wolf. He declares that he will only go if he fails the pack’s trial, which would determine if he can become a full member of the pack. During the trial, Bagheera, acting as hunter to chase the young wolves and test their strength, continually chases Mowgli and causes him to fail when he would have come in first. As Baloo confronts Bagheera over the issue, Mowgli is kidnapped by the Bandar-log, the jungle monkeys, on Tabaqui’s orders for Shere Khan. Shere Khan attempts to eat Mowgli while he is unconscious, but is stopped by Baloo and Bagheera. However, during their battle with Shere Khan’s minions, they are overwhelmed and it is only the intervention of Kaa herself that saves Mowgli.
Starring: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto, Rohan Chand,