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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie Poster Image
Intense, dark, muddled adaptation of Jungle Book tales.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes teamwork, friendship, and the idea that family is where you find/make it. The wolf pack adopts Mowgli -- a sweet message for adoptive/nontraditional families. Other positive messages include idea that people can mistake individuality for weakness, but it's actually strength.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mowgli is curious, kind, intelligent. He's courageous enough to try to protect his family and friends. Bagheera, Baloo, and the wolf parents all raise and train Mowgli from toddlerhood on, helping him be part of the community. Shere Khan is driven by rage and bloodlust, wanting to kill Mowgli at all costs.

Violence

Movie features many life-or-death scenes of violence, some bloody and frightening. Shere Khan kills Mowgli's parents (off-camera, but blood is visible on jungle floor, on Mowgli), then brags about it, leaves Mowgli bloody, muddy, crying. Shere Khan makes scary comments: "The man cub's blood will run down my chin." Several scenes where it seems Mowgli will die; he's nearly unconscious in one. Injuries leave him realistically scarred, bloody. Beloved supporting character is killed; his head is shown mounted in a hunter's gallery. Predator animals hunt. Animals fight one another, occasionally to death. Mowgli uses a knife, kills someone. A hunter discusses only missing a kill once -- but still taking the elephant's tusk.

Sex
Language

"Freak," "freaks," "weirdo," "we're not special, we came out wrong."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A hunter drinks out of a flask and walks around like he's drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a dark, gritty, violent adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's famous Jungle Book stories. Unlike Disney's 1967 and 2016 versions of the source material, this live-action/CGI adventure is decidedly not for younger kids. From the first scene onward, Mowgli battles life-threatening situations, with just a few moments of levity in between terrifying sequences. Mowgli's parents are killed (off-camera, but blood is visible), and baby Mowgli is left bloody, muddy, and crying. Later, there are several scenes where it seems he'll die, and he sustains serious injuries. A beloved supporting character is killed, with his head shown mounted in a hunter's gallery. Along with the graphic scenes, there are a couple of jump-worthy moments that are sure to frighten sensitive/younger viewers. Directed by veteran motion-capture actor Andy Serkis, the movie does offer messages about teamwork, friendship, and the idea that family is where you find or make it, but those are somewhat overshadowed by the movie's intensity.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 year old Written byCempaxochitl December 8, 2018

Too dark

Is too dark for young and older kids, my 8 year old get too scary when a cut head appear suddenly, that is too violent! , is too dark, really the images are ver... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 year old Written byAriel C. December 9, 2018

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review

Here's the truth, and I admit it with a heavy heart: To adapt a line from the movie: "You came out wrong!" Well, there's no denying it. Give... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byJ.C. Aldridge December 6, 2018

Rated 12 (moderate threat, scary scenes, injury detail).

SEX/NUDITY - None. VIOLENCE/GORE - There are many sequences featuring some intense violence, such as a bear and a panther fighting, a pack of wolves fighting ea... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDanbail613 December 10, 2018

The most appalling, pathetic Jungle Book ever made. It pushes the PG-13 limits. This one's gonna scar me for a while.

Warning: There are a couple uses of "crap" in this review, but my excuse is that's what the movie basically was. Now, it starts: Whether you... Continue reading

What's the story?

MOWGLI: LEGEND OF THE JUNGLE is actor-director Andy Serkis' take on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. After bloodthirsty tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) kills a husband and wife, their baby son, Mowgli, is saved by panther Bagheera (Christian Bale), who offers the boy to the jungle's wolf pack to raise. But, years later, Shere Khan claims the now tween Mowgli (Rohan Chand) and threatens that once alpha wolf Akela (Peter Mullan) is finally done as leader, the "man cub" shall be his. Bagheera and good-natured bear Baloo (Serkis) try to train Mowgli to be part of the jungle but begin to wonder whether he wouldn't be better off in man village, where Shere Khan will have a tougher time hunting him. Meanwhile, Shere Khan starts killing the village's cows, inciting conflict between the humans and the jungle animals.

Is it any good?

A star-studded voice cast and a charismatic young actor can't save this uneven, startlingly violent take on a tale that's best known for versions with humor and songs, both of which are absent here. The technical aspects of Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle are slick: Colorful visuals capture the dark, dangerous aspects of calling the jungle home. And thanks to his mastery of playing computer-generated creatures, Serkis certainly knows how to make these talking animals come off as ultra-realistic. But sometimes that realism can be off-putting -- as with Shere Khan's sidekick hyena, who's always followed by a ring of buzzing insects.

It's also completely unclear which audience the movie is aiming for. It's far too frightening for younger viewers but will undoubtedly be misperceived as a children's movie. Although the story is mostly a coming-of-age tale -- with Mowgli forced to justify his life with the wolves in a wolf rite of passage, or face banishment from the jungle -- it's not quite funny or mature enough to lure the adolescent viewers who could handle its bloodier moments. Chand does his best to carry the weight of the movie, but the plot starts to get messy and confusing once the man village -- and particularly the hunter (Matthew Rhys) who's working for the villagers -- gets involved. There are a couple of scenes that are so sad and frightening that it's hard not to imagine how traumatizing it will be for kids who misguidedly think this is another Disney-like production.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Is it more intense than you expected? How much violence can younger kids handle?

  • How does this version of the movie compare to other adaptations of Kipling's tales?

  • Do you agree with Bagheera that Mowgli belongs in the human village? Why or why not?

  • Which characters do you consider role models? Why? How do they demonstrate courage and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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