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In the battle of Jungle Book movies, Disney's The Jungle Book made it to theaters first two years ago, racking up critical acclaim, a near $1 billion at the box office and an Oscar for visual effects. Now it's Andy Serkis' turn to show the world his vision of Rudyard Kipling's classic tale. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle has now screened, so how does it stack up in the previous tellings, including Disney's, and what does it offer?
For CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg, Mowgli: Welcome to the Jungle stands out by being the much darker take that Andy Serkis promised, even if it doesn't completely work.
The darker tone is a big part of what separates Mowgli: Welcome to the Jungle from the successful Disney film, and is likely a pivot point on whether or not you will like what Andy Serkis has made. Scott Menzel really took to the film's darker tone and had high praise for the visuals and the story, actually liking it better than the successful Disney movie.
One pattern found in the reactions to the film is surprise, as some who've seen it liked it much better than they were expecting. For Anton Volkov, the film isn't perfect, but there were definitely things to like.
In a film like this, there is a lot of weight put on the performance of the actor playing Mowgli, as he has to carry the film to a large degree. A common thread in the reactions to Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is that Rohan Chand, who plays the titular character, does a good job, as Collider's Jeff Sneider says here, while also noting how the darker tone made it a tough theatrical sell.
While many seem to have enjoyed the different darker take that Andy Serkis' film offers to contrast the family-friendly Disney movie, some who saw the film found the darkness to be a bit too dark, as in pitch black. Kristy Puchko even compared it to a horror film.
Kristy was not alone in her assessment, as Will Mavity, who praised Mowgli's visuals, also emphasized how dark this movie is, indicating that it earned its PG-13 rating and is most definitely not for little kids.
One thing that is clear is that this film will not have the broad-appeal of Disney's The Jungle Book. But for those who are interested in a different take on the classic story, it seems that Andy Serkis delivers that and then some and parents will have to be very careful to not throw this movie on thinking they're going to be showing their kids singing bears.
These reactions make it clear why this film may be better suited to a Netflix release than a theatrical one, where it would have been very difficult to market. With Netflix being the primary place most people will see this film, perhaps more audiences will take the chance to do so and find that Disney's approach isn't the only way to tell a story.