The reimagining of The Jungle Book, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, lands on Netflix later this week and early reviews of the film are not promising. While the film doesn't yet have enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to earn either a Fresh or Rotten distinction, it currently sits at 59 percent positive reviews.
The site's critical consensus claims, "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings impressive special effects to bear on the darker side of its classic source material, but loses track of the story's heart along the way."
The film's official synopsis reads, "The story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli, raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins."
Directed by motion-capture performer extraordinaire Andy Serkis, Mowgli has been in development since around the time of Jon Favreau's release of The Jungle Book, which went on to become one of the most successful films of 2016. Mowgli was being developed for 3D formats and, while the film will still be getting a limited theatrical release, the release on Netflix immediately sparked theories that the film was landing on the platform because it might not have been of high enough quality to warrant a big theatrical marketing push.
Of Mowgli, Todd Gilchrist at Nerdist writes, "Andy Serkis opts for an unnecessarily 'gritty' adaptation that showcases the actor-director's CGI-enhanced performances, but otherwise fails to make Mowgli's coming of age meaningful or unique."
Over at IndieWire, Kate Erbland details, "Mowgli abandons all sense of wonder and opts for a dark weirdness that will likely turn off audience members of all ages, while scarring a few of them along the way."
This isn't to say that Mowgli is a flat-out failure, though Favreau's interpretation of the story earning 95 percent positive reviews makes Mowgli's low score look much more disappointing. Bilge Ebiri at Vulture, for example, notes, "The film reminds you that the jungle is a terrifying place, that nature is cruel, and humans even crueler."
Alan Scherstuhl at the Miami New Times admitted, "I found Mowgli magnificent, the best kiddo adventure movie I've seen this year, a spirited pulp extravaganza of surprising thematic weight."
Fans can check out Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle when it lands on Netflix tomorrow.
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