Movie Review: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

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Summary: A human child raised by wolves must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan, as well as his own origins.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. The voice over cast is extremely good. I didn’t know who was in the movie before I watched it so I wasn’t really placing anyone. I then noticed Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch were in the movie and then I figured out who they were lol.
  • Rohan Chand as Mowgli. First of all, this kid is adorable. Extremely. I thought he did very well in the movie. There were a few times where it wasn’t coming through exactly like in the emotional moments but overall, I thought he managed to push through it. I like the moments where he’s quiet and he’s just watching because he has very expressive eyes. Some of my favorite moments was when he just got into the man village and he was learning everything, the camera would just watch him as he watched and learned and it was really beautiful. I also thought he did very well with reacting to the animals around him, showing his fear, his anger and the emotional bits. As I said, it didn’t always hit but I thought he did very well. He was very sympathetic.
  • Christian Bale as Bagheera. He is a black panther who finds Mowgli after his family was killed and takes him to the wolves. He becomes one of Mowgli’s mentors and friends. We also learn from him that he was born in human custody. Bagheera is kind and caring and while he believes in Mowgli, he’s also worried about him when it comes to living in the jungle with Shere Khan on the loose. Bagheera often makes choices that would protect Mowgli even if it seems harsh at the time. I knew I recognized his voice when I first started watching the movie, I think Christian Bale is great at voice overs (Howl’s Moving Castle anyone?) and his voice is so soft with honey like tones in the movie that it really works. There’s a great scene where Mowgli and Bagheera are talking about Bagheera’s history and it was a moving scene.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan. He is a crippled Bengal tiger and Mowgli’s arch-enemy. He’s ruthless and will do anything to get what he wants. I think with him being crippled (his front right paw is like bent back so he can’t walk on the pad of his paw). Benedict Cumbersnatch is good at voice acting, he’s played many a villain in motion capture. I thought the voice he put on for the character was sinister.
Supporting Characters. There are a lot of side characters, some whose names I didn’t retain but there are a few who might not constantly be in the film but they have important roles.
  • Cate Blanchett as Kaa. She is a python and a seer. She is the main narrator of the film and it seems that she is on Mowgli’s side. We see her mainly twice, once where she saves Mowgli and then another time when he goes to her and she shows him some important information. I guess she could be a “mentor” but she’s not around enough for me to really say that. Cate Blanchett is always a win and her voice is amazing as always.
  • Andy Serkis as Baloo. He’s not the Baloo we know from the Disney movies, but a grisly, drill sergeant teacher. His face has a lot of scars showing his life, which was cool, but he looked a little odd. We did get to see him fight a few times which was cool. I don’t think he and Mowgli had a relationship that rivaled what we’ve seen before but the role he played, where he encouraged Mowgli to be at his best. One of my favorite parts was during the Running and he freaked out on Bagheera because of what he did. Andy Serkis is always great in motion capture and he’s great here too.
Dark and Gritty. I’ve never read the book, it’s on my list and I don’t know the tone of the story but this is very different from the Disney versions which director Andy Serkis made clear. For one thing, Baloo is this grisly mentor instead of a happy-go-lucky friend. Also, with the hunter and how Mowgli ends up deciding between the village and the jungle that was pretty intense. The monkey scene as well, there isn’t a King Louis but the monkeys end up knocking him out while dragging him to their hideout, and Shere Khan leaves this giant scar down Mowgli’s arm… I mean it’s also a little bloody. I quite enjoyed it though. I also think there was a little more at stake here in that Shere Khan was doing things that would break jungle law. The Hunter storyline in general and what we learn about Bagheera.
Bagheera and Mowgli. I didn’t want to compare this to Disney’s The Jungle Book (2015) but in this case I kind of have too. In both Disney versions, one of the biggest praises is the friendship that Mowgli has with both Bagheera and Baloo. Obviously, they are on two different levels with Baloo being the fun-loving friend and Bagheera being the protective one, but this movie does it a little differently. Baloo and Mowgli aren’t really friends at all, but he and Bagheera are and I thought the relationship they had was beautiful. Bagheera truly cared about him and did everything he could to protect him even if it came off in the wrong way. The scene by the cage, that is one of my favorite scenes.
The Man-Village. This might be a little spoilery, but meh lol. I really enjoyed the scenes in the man village. Mowgli wakes up in a cage and just watches everything around him and we see how some of the people react to him as he is a little jungle baby. Then when we finally see him out and about in the village, there’s a great scene between him and Frida Pinto as she washes him and teaches him the ways of the village. There’s not a lot of dialogue that goes on while he’s there, mostly because he doesn’t understand their language (though I wonder since he understands the animals, can other humans understand them or how that works. I mean, it’s fine but I’m curious). Then they have a Festival of Colors and I want to go so bad lol, but it was great and to see him fall into it and enjoy himself. It was great. I really liked all of that stuff.
Cons:
Shere Khan’s Motives. I guess he doesn’t really need any but I’ve always thought the idea of him killing humans just to kill them was lame. I mean, sure, it’s a villain move, but he’s so hellbent on getting Mowgli because he missed him the first time without an actual cause? It doesn’t make for a very interesting villain personally. He keeps doing things that breaks the law of the jungle… but why? He didn’t necessarily need to say why, but it would have been nice to discover that.
A Little Too Dark. There were a lot of times in the movie where I couldn’t see what was going on. I shouldn’t have to adjust my TV’s brightness for the movie to be seen. It was really annoying a few times so I just had to shrug it off.
Weird CGI. I don’t think all of the animals looked that great. It was cool that they had scars and battle wounds ya know, they’ve lived in the jungle but some of them looked scary and not in a good way. I think particularly the wolves and Baloo didn’t look great.
Rushed In the Last Act. I prefer the first half definitely because I thought it was pretty well paced but the last half flew through the story. I liked the stuff in the village, especially when he was in the cage, but once he finds that stuff with Lockwood, it just goes so fast that it feels so different from the first half. His standoff with Shere Khan was so quick I was like… meh.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Mowgli: Legend of the Jungleand I tried not to compare it to Disney’s version in 2015 and yes, it’s very different. I thought most of the characters were interesting, particularly Mowgli, Shere Khan and Bagheera. All of the motion capture and voice over acting was handled really well and I thought Christian Bale really portrayed the character of Bagheera in an interesting, compelling and sympathetic way. I will also give Rohan Chand his props for playing Mowgli. This is his first leading role and I thought he handled himself really well, he’s really great to watch. I enjoyed the dark and gritty tone in that it felt like there were actual things at stake, the hunter storyline, the kind of frightening images and of course the monkey stuff lol. I also really loved the storyline between Bagheera and Mowgli, they seemed a lot closer in this version and it allowed them to have a different kind of relationship that was really emotional. The man village scene was beautiful, without the dialogue it really helps just watch Mowgli grow immersed. Now, I did have a problem with how dark the movie looked in that I couldn’t tell what was going on. The CGI wasn’t always the best. The last act was extremely rushed  after what I thought was nice pacing in the first two acts. Also, Shere Khan’s motives were kind of meh. I get it but meh. But it’s worth the watch if you love The Jungle Book.
Rating: 3.59 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle? If not, you should check it out, it’s worth the watch especially if you love The Jungle Book. If you have seen it, let me know your thoughts down below and let’s discuss!
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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

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Summary: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. I’m not going to go into huge detail about anyone because that would spoil the film, but I will make mention of everyone who’s important and prominent in the movie.
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. He is a former powerful Jedi Master who has been in self-imposed exile. There is a lot that he doesn’t reveal that happened between him and Ben Solo and he’s very against Rey being there at first as well. He keeps to himself, doing his normal routine. I think it’s very easy to tell that Luke is afraid of something, he doesn’t want any kind of repeats, so he’s unwilling to do anything that’s Force related with other people. I never quite considered Mark Hamill as Luke, to be that interesting a character, I don’t know if it’s because he’s not that good in person (he’s a great voice actor) but I thought he was very interesting here. I still don’t think he’s that great of an on-screen actor but I liked this version of Luke. Very secretive, and while he’s a grouchy old man, there is still a lot he has to learn himself. Never stops learning.
  • Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. She is Luke’s twin sister, and the leading general in the Resistance. She is leading an evacuation of the Resistance Base because the First Order is attacking. Leia is upset in the beginning because Poe breaks from order, and then more stuff happens and she ends up being hurt in the process causing command to pass to Vice Admiral Holdo. Later, Leia is there and prominent but I thought it was a lot of passing of the torch to Poe. Carrie Fisher is great in this film, she is a great mixture of grace, leadership and humor. As an older woman, she’s not nearly as physical as she was, but her influence is within her ranks and I think that’s just as important. Her relationship with Poe, I find to be very interesting, as well as her relationship with Kylo Ren. Fisher has a lot of emotional moments that require silent and just her expression, I think that’s some very strong acting from her.
  • Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Basically a servant and apprentice to Supreme Leader Snoke. He is strong with the dark side of the Force and leader to the Knights of Ren (something we still have not seen yet). He was born Ben Solo and it’s clear that he is battling with the light side as well. There is a scene in the trailer where we see his smashed helmet, which is a result of his temper tantrums. At this point, there is no reason for him to hide his face, everyone knows who he is lol. It’s like he’s still trying to prove himself, but at this point, what are his motives? What is his end game? Obviously, he’s struggling, after killing his father, but where does he go now?  There is a lot that’s interesting about Kylo Ren, he thinks he’s right in all that he believes in, or wants to believe in and that’s interesting. I think Adam Driver is a very good actor, but he spends a lot of time moody and broody, staring into space and what not, get’s old. I liked it better towards the end when he was losing his mind lol. It’s more fun.
  • Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a highly Force-sensitive scavenger, who has joined the resistance and goes to find Luke Skywalker, with the hopes that he would train her. Rey spends a lot of movie, trying to appeal to Luke, to get him to not only train her but to come back and help, as he’s the only remaining Jedi. She’s eager to learn, though something ends up happening where she often speaks with someone else and they both have interesting conversations that seem to put in the air, what will happen in the future? Will there just be a balance of light and dark? I think Rey while strong in her stance, also has a chance to do some bad things. I believe in the light lol, but ya know we’ll see. I like Daisy Ridley, I think as Rey, she has this innocence about her, as well as this vulnerability that rivals the strength she obviously has. I like that about her.
  • John Boyega as Finn. He’s a former stormtrooper of the First Order who defected to the Resistance. I like Finn and I feel like a lot of that has to do with John Boyega, I’m going to get into him more later. John Boyega does a great job at making Finn likable and unlikable because you just don’t know what he might do considering where he came from.
  • Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. First of all, I love Oscar Isaac and I love Poe Dameron. He’s my favorite. I’m glad that he has more to do in this film. I resent the posts I’ve seen about him being the “Jar Jar Binks” of this trilogy and I find that highly ridiculous. Poe is a Commander and the best pilot in the galaxy. Poe makes choices that do put people in danger, and he’s trying to do it for the good of the Resistance, something that he has dedicated his life to. In the beginning, he defies Leia’s orders, which causes him to get into trouble. I also believe the mission at the beginning was also his idea, which it seemed to have been going well, but war is unpredictable. He has a great moment with General Hux over the “call line”. Still hilariously sassy. Because he gets into trouble with Leia, when Holdo takes over, she basically holds that against him and keeps him out of the loop, which makes him believe that her methods are passive and he wants to do something active. Poe does have a character arc in this film, it’s not in the forefront but it’s important for his character in this film. I think Oscar Isaac is a fantastic actor, he is great in everything I see him in and as Poe, I think he’s likable consistently, I might be biased, but I think it’s true. I was on his side, because a lot what happens, does seem a bit ridiculous and could have been worked out better, if they would have told him! He is definitely the Leia of the trio.
  • Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. A member of the Resistance who works in maintenance. She meets Finn after he wakes up and they at first have a nice conversation, then it turns a bit antagonist, then it turns into a new working friendship. I like Rose, she’s spirited, emotional and strong. Very likable character.
  • Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. Dude is mysterious, he is the leader of the First Order and Kylo Ren’s master. Andy Serkis is always a win.
  • Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux. He’s not as prominent in this one as he was in the first one, perhaps that because he was the Head of Starkiller Base and that was destroyed in he last movie haha, but here, he’s trying to regain control of things and obviously he hates Kylo Ren. What I think is funny is some of the mannerisms Domhnall Gleeson does for him, like when he’s angry, how he tries to contain it and he starts to shake like a volcano about to erupt. Since he’s not in this one as much, I had a good time watching his reactions to things.
  • Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. So, I’ve never heard of her before, and it seemed that Poe was equally shocked that Holdo was her. I don’t think it was because she’s a woman, because obviously Leia is the shiznit, but that it was her. She’s interesting in that she was passive in some of the choices she makes and she seems to do things for the greater good as well. Laura Dern is good.
  • Benicio del Toro as DJ. He’s an underworld codebreaker and an interesting fellow. Not in the movie a lot, but I wonder what will become of him as the story goes further. He left an impression. Benicio del Toro is always good.
Thoughts on the Story. So The Force Awakens, was about a beginning, about the force “awakening”, not to mention the first steps for many of our characters. This film, I think the title is very interesting in how it’s used for the movie. In this movie, there is a lot going on, but the main through line, I think is balance and will that balance be tipped one way or other. Every character has their own story going on, they’re all fairly interesting. I think the main idea of balance will continue to be a thing, and I wonder how it will play out in the next and final film of this trilogy. We have a maturing villain and a heroine who is doubting herself and her purpose.
The Effects/Music. Being that it’s a Star Wars movie, there is no short supply of special effects. It’s still so cool to see the Rebels (Resistance) and the First Order go at it and seeing them battle it out with their ships. The design of a lot of the creatures we see are also really cool, I want the giant horse creatures and I want the Crystal dogs. So cute. John Williams composes the score, which is classic, and it’s amazing as well. Hearing the Star Wars theme and the accompanying music to intense scenes, it helps up the ante, feels intense. There’s also a great moment with Rey, where it’s like multiple Reys, never-ending and it was really cool.
  • There is a moment specifically that happened towards the end of the film where all the sound cuts out and it’s a silent moment. My breath was caught in my chest, it was so intense, the effects were awesome. It was a very effective scene.
The Connection Between Characters. I didn’t want to necessary say “friendships” because not all of relationships are friendships but I think the way these characters are all connected is interesting. Finn and Rey have their thing, from the first movie, I mean, when Finn wakes up, he’s looking for Rey and the first thing he asks Poe is “Where’s Rey?” so their relationship, which I thought was something created pretty good in the first, continues in this one, even though they’re not together at all. I think Finn and Poe‘s friendship is also a strong one, I kind of felt like Poe took the place of that Stormtrooper who died in TFA, for Finn, he’s part of the reason why he broke ranks and then he meets up with Poe who welcomes him in with no trouble. Finn and Rose become a new friendship that I thought had a lot of potential. Luke and Leia‘s sibling relationship is beautiful. Kylo and Rey have some interactions but I won’t go into that much, which I thought was very interesting. Luke and Rey don’t really have that “mentor/mentee” thing going on, but their interactions are also interesting in that he senses the power within in her, and she wants to understand that power. Leia and Poe definitely have a mutual respect going on, not to mention a “mentor/mentee” thing and I love it. I wish it was explored more in general but she wants him to learn that there is more to being a leader than glory and blowing things up with his jet and he just want to do the right thing even if that means making hard choices. I think all of these relationships between these characters are probably some of the stronger aspects of this movie, a lot of them don’t get the time they deserve to be fleshed out, but I think there is strength behind all of them.
Character Arcs. This kind of goes hand in hand with the previous point, but a lot of characters have to deal with a lot of internal revelations in this movie. Luke, Rey, Kylo, and Poe probably most notably who go through a lot in this movie, that makes them come out different in the end. That’s important for characters. I won’t go into it but I liked the stories and I hope that though they had arcs in this film, that doesn’t mean those characters get pushed to the side in the third one.
The Balance. I think this film does a good job in showing that the dark side is alluring. It has been something to fear in the past, and while it still is, I think this film does something the others haven’t really done and that is show that the dark side could be something that could actually win out against the light. That was a very smart choice. Plus, it balanced emotion and humor, in that it’s funny, but not like there need to be laugh tracks funny, and the emotion is important because the characters deal with things, or make choices that are very emotional, especially when it came to Leia and Luke.
Cons:
Finn’s involvement. Did Rian Johnson just not know what to do with Finn? Does he not like Finn? I don’t get it. In the first movie, he had a bit more to do, he was the one we all thought was going to be the force user (which lets be honest, would have been really cool) but he wasn’t, that’s fine. But then he’s just… I don’t know what it is. I like Finn, but he’s so underused and underdeveloped. WHY!? He has his own motives for things he does, he hates the First Order for what’s happened to him, and what they’ve done to other people. But it felt like they made him go on this silly mission with Rose, to get him out-of-the-way because they just don’t know what to do with him. He was unconscious when Rey left to find Luke, that’s fine. Thinking about it, I have no idea what could have been doing considering what happened in this movie, and plus spoilers, but something that doesn’t feel like he shouldn’t be there. HE SHOULD BE THERE, especially making it such a big deal of him in the first movie. *sighs*
Some Character Designs. I hate Snoke’s look. I hate it. They should have just add Andy Serkis be on-screen as himself, with maybe some prosthetics or something. But noooo, we need to do motion capture because he’s the king of motion capture. No. That was stupid. It was unnecessary use of technology. I also did not like Holdo’s look. In the pictures they released of her, it looked nice and intriguing but in the actual film, I thought it looked pretty bad. In the pictures, the dress laid better and her hair looked better but in the actual film, her dress looked brown compared to the plum color. I don’t know, it just looked sloppy.
Wasted Side Plots and Characters. There are a lot of side plots going on. A lot. The whole thing with Finn and Rose felt like a waste of time, without it, the movie would have been shorter lol, but a waste of time. Captain Phasma shows up in the film again, and unfortunately she’s underused AGAIN. You have Brienne of Tarth in your movie and you don’t use her the way you should? What’s wrong with you guys. Phasma should have been up and through this movie. I hate it when they try to make stuff and characters seem important and they’re just not. It’s so annoying because you can literally just lift them right from the movie.
New Characters. We get a few new characters in this film, Holdo, D.J. and Rose mostly and while I liked Rose, I don’t think she was needed in the film. Kelly Marie Tran was great and her character was cool but if you erase her, and replace her on the adventures with Poe, I think it would have made much more sense. We already know there is a friendship between Poe and Finn, and I think it would have been cool to see them go on that adventure together, like with Han and Luke in the original trilogy. I’m glad Rose was there, more diversity but she felt out-of-place and unnecessary, at least the way they used her. I know why Holdo and DJ were there but meh lol. Both interesting characters and the actors were great but just felt like they were there…just because.
What Happened? So, outside of characters getting arcs, and things happening that could change the way things go in the third one, a part of wondered what exactly happened in this film. There’s a lot going on, but it felt like a lot of was just wasted space and that nothing really happened till the end. Maybe that was the point but when I was thinking about the story, and what was accomplished, there was a lot that happened but at the same time, it didn’t feel like anything actually happened. This movie felt like a bridge.
Overall, I quite enjoyed The Last Jedi. Yes, there were some problems with it, but overall, I had a good time. The acting was good, the characters are still interesting, the new ones and the classic ones from the original trilogy. It was great to see certain characters deal with arcs that put them in a new place, physically, emotionally, spiritually that means a lot for them, hopefully in the third film. I love the effects in the film, especially on the creatures in the film, I want miniatures of all of them. Plus the effects of the space battles, and the design of the planet with the red salt, that was awesome. Some strong aspects of the movie, are the relationships between characters in this film. A lot of them are built up more from the first film and are given more to do, that benefit their characters and the plot in ways. I like how the movie focuses on the balance between light and dark and how similar they are and they show just how alluring the dark side could be. I liked that Kylo and Rey are similar in that they’re trying to find out who they are and are almost paralleling each other’s stories. That’s really cool. With that said, I do think this movie does a huge disservice to Finn’s character in that they don’t seem to know what to do with him, he just feels there and useless and he should be useful and important. I didn’t like the design of Snoke, I think it was a waste to use Andy Serkis in that way, and I did not like how Vice Admiral Holdo looked on-screen. While I enjoyed the new characters, I think Rose especially was unnecessary to have been as important as she was. I liked her but she didn’t feel important to the story. It also felt like nothing really happened in this movie, or at least a lot that happened was just make the movie long. Overall, I liked it and I had a good time.
Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? What are your thoughts? It’s very divisive mostly among fans and audiences, can someone tell me why? Very curious.
Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forgot to like and follow this blog for more movie reviews.