Given the breakneck pace of Netflix’s acquisitions, and the fact that Mowgli was being advertised for theaters months ago, it’s easy to forget that the streaming giant acquired Andy Serkis’ film from Warner Bros. in July. That means we’ll finally see the release of the off-delayed Jungle Book adaptation, but it’s likely to remind quite a few people of the likes of The Cloverfield Paradox.
Regardless, a final trailer has arrived for the star-studded film, and it’s interesting to say the least. It’s also easy to forget how many recognizable faces and voices are present in this adaptation, from Serkis himself as Baloo to Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan and Cate Blanchett as Kaa. Or perhaps we should say, it’s easy to forget about those faces, until you see their faces, mingled in with their animal characters in a way that is distinctly off-putting. Just look at the trailer and you’ll see.
That is … well, yikes. It’s clear that Serkis was going for a certain artistic aesthetic in this style of CGI, perhaps inspired by some of the slight anthropomorphized features present in the apes of the modern Planet of the Apes series, in which he starred. But Mowgli takes that concept much farther, into a realm that can only be described as fantastical. I mean seriously, look again at the face of Baloo and try to see anything other than Gollum.
Imagine you’re in the jungle, and you see THAT thing coming at you, right? I’m sorry for inflicting that image on you.
In terms of differentiating the film from Disney’s more recent Jungle Book adaptation, Netflix says Mowgli is about being the character “torn between two worlds, accepts his destiny and becomes a legend…[He] has never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilized world of man [and] now must navigate the inherent dangers of each on a journey to discover where he truly belongs.”
Serkis, meanwhile, describes it with the following: “I wanted to make an emotional version of this story, which has already been told many times. I wanted to explore being an outsider. Being dislodged, being other. It is a hugely contemporary idea that could do with exploration.“
Like other recent Netflix films, Mowgli will be receiving a limited theatrical release, which begins on Nov. 29 in L.A., New York, San Francisco and London. It will then hit the streaming platform for everyone else on Dec. 7.