If you went into Mowgli expecting some jungle japes and one or two renditions of Bear Necessities then you might have been left feeling a little sore.
Andy Serkis’ second feature film as director which is new on Netflix and showing in select theatres right now, opted to go down a darker route than the Disney animation. From a different Baloo from what anyone would have expected to how Mowgli stands out from the Jungle Book pack, here’s what the Lord of the Rings star had to say when we sat down with him recently.
“That’s going back to the book,” Serkis says of the lack of the all-singing and all-dancing style in Mowgli, pointing to Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 set of stories as a huge influence on both the movie and the character of Baloo, who he also plays. “Baloo in the book is much tougher. He’s a teacher… He’s aware that Mowgli is never going to be able to do what the other wolves are doing.”
Serkis, though, reveals a brief lighter side to the gruffer, grumpier Baloo that isn’t always obviously present in Mowgli: “He worries for him, he has affection for him, but he never shows it,” yet, while you might have expected Baloo mellow, fairytale-style, over the course of the movie, this isn’t the case here, as Serkis explains: “He’s much more like a drill sergeant. He’s quite military in the way he carries on.”
So, while other Jungle Book adaptations, according to Serkis, focus on the “animals and the antics, the songs” Mowgli opts to focus on a “central character that’s going on this immense journey.”
Mowgli, then, makes a brave choice as a movie, guided by Andy Serkis’ hand: it chooses to go down the (jungle) path less travelled – and that’s fine by us. I think we can hit pause on the Bear Necessities just this once.
Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle is in select cinemas and launches on Netflix on December 7.