Disney has made a habit of producing sequels, sometimes made-for-home video and occasionally (Return to Never Land, The Tigger Movie) to theaters, for almost all of its animated classics (sometimes even a series of sequels), but The Jungle Book 2 seems in many ways the least necessary of them all. It’s not the worst of the lot, but its story is so threadbare that it’s basically just a rehash of the first film with a couple of new tunes added (one rather catchy) and almost all of the characters from the first recycled into this new one (with new voice actors coming as close as they can to the sounds of the original voices) but almost nothing new jungle-wise to fashion new fans for the story.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 12 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copykeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/18/2014
Five days after leaving his jungle pals behind and joining humans in the “man village,” Mowgli (Haley Joel Osment) begins to feel the familiar pull of the jungle: its freedoms and fun without responsibility. His hipster pal Baloo the bear (John Goodman) likewise misses his little buddy and is determined to bring him back into the fold. Mowgli has told his new family the stories of his jungle existence, but they’re convinced he’s better off away from man-eating tiger Shere Khan (Tony Jay) and insist he forget his old life. But the lure is too strong, and he willingly goes with Baloo when he appears. Mowgli’s friend Shanti (Mae Whitman) sees him leaving the village and thinks he’s being abducted, so she, despite her fear and ignorance of the wild, sets off to find him and bring him back.Karl Geurs’ screenplay follows the concept of “You can take the boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the boy” with Mowgli feeling torn throughout about where his heart truly lies (and the film’s eventual solution is so obvious that one almost resents even the seventy minutes it takes to get there). The film basically regurgitates many of the first film’s strongest points: “The Bare Necessities” is sung three times in the film, the sneaky snake Kaa (Jim Cummings) tries his best again to hypnotize and crush his victims, the vicious Shere Khan is still on the prowl, the overprotective Bagheera (Bob Joles) still insists Mowgli return to the village, the elephant marching troop is still floundering around as is the buzzard “Beatles” quartet now joined by a wacky fifth member Lucky voiced by Phil Collins. New to the story is Mowgli’s young step-brother Ranjan (Connor Funk) who quickly wears out his welcome but gives the family’s smallest fry someone with whom to identify, and a couple of nifty tunes (composed by Lorraine Feather and Paul Grabowsky) especially Mowgli’s catchy “Jungle Rhythm” that sells the jungle’s appeal to the natives and the big monkey production number “W-I-L-D” which replaces “I Wanna Be Like You” from the first movie (it’s heard over the closing credits sung by Smash Mouth). But there are fundamental problems with allowing village people to fully understand the animals of the jungle; it’s understandable that Mowgli could having been raised among them, but how do Shanti and Ranjan talk and understand the animals? The animation doesn’t begin to approach the water colored richness of the original feature though computer advances allow the film to mask some of its cruder, less detailed animation with some big set pieces amid dense backgrounds.All of the adult voice actors do their best to match the vocal inflections and tone of the original performers. John Goodman has the same kind of easy-going sass that originator Phil Harris did, and Jim Cummings captures as closely as he can Sterling Holloway’s sibilant sounds as Kaa. Likewise, Tony Jay does a reasonable George Sanders lethal purr, and Bob Joles does what he can with Bagheera (admittedly, the least like originator Sebastian Cabot). Of the others, Haley Joel Osment is just fine as Mowgli and has an appealing, untrained singing voice that suits the character, Mae Whitman is an acceptable Shanti, and John Rhys-Davies as Mowgli’s new step-father has authority and concern to make him a most welcome parent figure for the boy.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
The film is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio and in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is striking and color is consistently delivered throughout with no blooming or bleeding. There is no banding present nor is there any evidence of aliasing. Contrast is spot-on. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix uses directionalized dialogue to a delightful degree throughout making full use of all the available channels. The songs and the background score by Joel McNeely also get a nice spread through the fronts and rears. Ambient sounds aren’t as prominent as one might have hoped to add flavor and color to the jungle surroundings. Dialogue is always completely discernible and is never drowned out by the full-bodied orchestra.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Synopsis of The Jungle Book (2:59, SD): a quick summary of the events of the original 1967 film which lead to the beginning of the sequel.The Legacy of The Jungle Book (14:11, SD): producers Mary Thorne and Chris Chase, and actors John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Mae Whitman, John Rhys-Davies, and Jim Cummings, among others, comment on their work in the film as an extension to the original movie.Deleted Scenes (5:41, SD): two song sequences, both involving Shanti, are introduced by crew members and then shown in storyboards and temp tracks. They may also be watched individually.Sing Along: this will turn on subtitles when song numbers begin in the film.Music Videos (1:02 each, SD): music videos of “W-I-L-D” and “Jungle Rhythm” are presented separately.Promo Trailers (HD): Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition, Muppets Most Wanted, Frozen.DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
For those younger members of the family who adored the original movie, The Jungle Book 2 will give them basically more of the same with little in the way of a new story or vivid new characters (especially in the jungle) to draw in new fans to the fold. Still, the visual and audio presentation on Blu-ray is all one could want.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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