Cinelinx takes a look at Disney's new The Jungle Book 2 Blu-ray!
This review covers the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD set.
In this 2002 follow up to the 1967 classic, a discontented Mowgli leaves the man village and returns to the jungle, and finds old friends, and enemies, waiting for him. Features the voices of Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, and John Rhys Davies.
Directed by Steve Trenbirth.
For about a decade beginning in the mid-1990s, Disney went slap-happy with sequels to their animated classics. Most went straight to DVD and are pretty forgettable (anyone remember Cinderella III, with the time-traveling storyline?). In 2002, Disney continued the sequel trend when they released The Jungle Book 2. Produced not by their features division, but rather DisneyToon Studios (their straight-to-video and TV animation division) and Disney’s Australian animation studio, the film was one of a handful of their projects that actually saw a theatrical run prior to the home video release.
Picking up just days after the end of the original Jungle Book, Part 2 is a lackluster rehashing of the best elements of the original. After a nice musical number (“Jungle Rhythm”) set in the man village, Mowgli takes off into the jungle once again, determined to reunite with Baloo and Bagheera. For the next hour or so, we get the characters doing nothing more than wandering around and singing “The Bare Necessities.” Several times. Other characters from the first film - namely the elephants and the vultures - reappear, seemingly to remind us how good the first movie was. They then essentially re-enact jokes and songs from the first film.
To say The Jungle Book 2 does little more than ape (pun lightly intended) the original is perhaps giving it too much credit. All the fun and inspiration from the first film is gone. We don’t even get King Louie this time around, nor do we see any new animals. The songs are completely reprised from the first film; there isn’t even an attempt to write new lyrics to fit the new situation.
A number of respected actors head up the voice cast, including John Goodman’s portrayal of Baloo, who manages to equal Phil Harris’ iconic performance in the original. Haley Joel Osment voices Mowgli and John Rhys Davies (The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones movies) voices the father who takes Mowgli in at the man village, and both give solid performances.
The animation quality varies, but while it is often quite good, it never feels like you are watching a true classic Disney feature. It still feels like a straight-to-DVD cartoon. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t big-screen-feature quality. The art direction overall is excellent, and copies the original’s colorful jungle look well.
The problem here isn’t the voice acting or the animation quality: it is the story itself. Admittedly, the original Jungle Book was not a faithful adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories; it took the book’s characters and built a musical around the journey to the man village. It was a simple yet entertaining story that succeeded on the strength of the music and the characters. The lack of a coherent plot for the sequel just adds to the overall lazy approach; the film could have easily followed Mowgli back to the wolf pack, where he tries to take his place as leader, in a nod to Tarzan. Alas, all we get is rehashed songs strung together by stale gags. The finale - involving a showdown with Shere Khan in a temple surrounded by a convenient yet dramatic lava river - fails to impress.
Young children will likely be distracted by the songs and the characters enough to be entertained, but older children and adults will realize just how tedious and lifeless this sequel is. Rather than trying to improve or expand on what made the original so good, it merely tries to repeat it, and badly at that. It is a complete waste of the considerable talent involved.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer is solid, with good detail and nice, bold colors. The video has been newly remastered for the Blu-ray release, and it is impressive. The audio is very good, offering a 5.1 DTS High-Def Master Audio track with superior surround quality and deep, rich tones.
Disney packed in some decent extras on the Blu-ray. Under the “Backstage Disney” category is a three minute synopsis of the first film, as well as a 14 minute featurette called “The Legacy of the Jungle Book.” The featurette is very interesting, with Roy Disney, John Goodman, John Rhys Davies, and other crew members discussing the original film and their approach to the sequel. There are even some looks behind the scenes at the making of the sequel, including animating and voice recording.
Two deleted scenes are included, and can be viewed with introductions from Disney Executive Vice President Sharon Morrill and Senior Vice President of Music Matt Walker. One scene includes a discarded song called “I Got You Beat” and the second scene is a song by the Shanti character called “Braver.”
Two music videos are included, which are basically highlights of the film cut to two of the film’s songs: “W-I-L-D” and “Jungle Rhythm.” A Sing-Along option allows you to watch the film with subtitles during the musical sequences. A digital copy is also included.
Release date: March 18, 2014
Running time: 72 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA (Blu-ray only); English, French, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special features: The Jungle Book synopsis; “The Legacy of The Jungle Book” featurette, Two Deleted Scenes, Two Music Videos, Sing-Along option, and Digital Copy.
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment