Mowgli, the boy from the jungle is now living in a village with his new adoptive family of the girl with the water jug, Shanti. He is still working on adjusting to the new settings and not living amongst the animals in the jungle. Unlike Mowgli, the people of the village are afraid of what is in the jungle and while playing, Mowgli almost leads the entire group of village children in to it but Shanti stops them. Her father scolds him and Mowgli feels like he is in more trouble than he actually is. That night, the tiger Shere Kahn gets into the village to have his revenge on the man cub but at the same time, Baloo takes Mowgli with him because he misses him a lot. Thinking the village doesn’t want him there, Mowgli travels up river with Baloo and Shanti with her brother Ranjan go looking for him. But they run into a few obstacles while trying to find their friend.
The Jungle Book 2 is a movie that was planned to go straight to video but ended up being released theatrically by the studio’s decision. It’s directed by Steve Trenbirth who is a newcomer when it comes to directing but has been involved in animation for a lot of years. Casting the voice actors was pretty much spot on and may have been difficult with a 36 year gap from the original. John Goodman voices Baloo and he is the obvious choice for this iconic character. They’re both big and can get a little out of control. Haley Joel Osment plays Mowgli and this was when his career was talking off. For his age, he played a very convincing child of Mowgli’s age. Also, Tony Jay’s Shere Khan is very close to George Sanders ‘original depiction. Jay has an amazing ability to do a number of voices with ease.
The movie is pretty good but, like Return to Neverland, it’s a bit odd for Disney to make a sequel with such a time gap between the release of The Jungle Book (1967) and The a jungle Book 2 (2003). Disney’s gamble paid off though by making an impressive $135,703,599 worldwide on a budget of $20 million. As for the movie itself, there is no doubt that it’s targeted as a much younger audience. The dialogue feels a bit “dumbed-down” when the grown-ups are talking to the younger characters. I know its Disney but most of the animated classics are for families so that the parents enjoy the films as well.
Haley Joel Osment as Mowgli
John Goodman as Baloo
Mae Whitman as Shanti
Bob Joles as Bagheera
Tony Jay as Shere Khan
Phil Collins as Lucky
John Rhys-Davies as Ranjan’s father
Jim Cummings as Kaa / Colonel Hathi / M.C. Monkey
Jimmy Bennett as Hathi, Jr.
Connor Funk as Ranjan
With this movie only being a little over 10 years old, the transfer is expected to look very good. It’s a 1080p AVC with a tight frame rate, making the images looks excellent and crisp on the screen. The animation is a very smooth and hand drawn that looks beautiful. The coloring is quite bold between the backgrounds and the characters themselves. At times, some of the colors are a bit over saturated but it happens inconsistently throughout the movie. One of the featurettes even explained that they turned up the color but in think during production, they didn’t expect what transferring it to HD would do. This is only a minor thing that I wouldn’t even call an issue but it can be distracting.
The Audio is mixed in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and the best way to describe it is average. For the most part, the movie front channel heavy and clear but there are times where the sound makes its way to the other speakers. This is mostly during the songs and a bit when something is about to happen in the jungle. To be fair there is some ambient noise but it’s not strong enough to notice unless nothing is happening on screen. Also, the LFEs are a little light throughout the movie. I was expecting stronger bass at least during some of the musical numbers but it never happened. Hopefully this is just a one time occurrence and Disney will get back to the quality they’re known for.
The extras on the release are good for an animated feature but there isn’t anything new since the DVD release in 2003. The information is what is to be expected for this type of Blu-ray.
-Synopsis of the original movie The Jungle Book: This is a short recap of the original movie incase people need a refresher.
-Legacy of The Jungle Book: This is a featurette of what the cast and crew of the new movie had to do to try and merge the two movies. They also had the task of finding the voice actors to be similar but not try to completely recreate the originals.
-Deleted Scenes: The deleted scenes are actually 2 songs that didn’t make it into the movie named “I Got You Beat” and “Braver.” They both have intros with executive vice president Sharon Morrill and senior vice president of music Matt Walker.
-Music Videos: There is a sing along with the movie feature and 2 music videos. The videos are “W-I-L-D” and “Jungle Rhythm.”
Two-disc set w/Blu-ray and DVD
iTunes digital copy
Includes the slipcover
1080p MPEG-4 AVC
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Canadian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Bottom line 3
The Jungle Book 2 is a sequel to a classic that just doesn’t live up to its predecessor. It was possibly made to introduce younger viewers to the original like Return to Neverland. Like I said earlier, the movie is aimed at younger kids with a more colorful and a lot more music than the first. The video looks great and shows the details of how much work was put in to the animation. However, the audio is a bit weak for the for the DTS-HD MA mix. Overall, this is a release for children that are Disney fans but for fans of the original or adults, this one falls a little short.