"The Jungle Book 2: Special Edition" DVD Review
June 18, 2008 by Zach Demeter
By now the Disney “cheap-qual” has been well publicized. We’ve seen a myriad of sequels to childhood favorites that we otherwise wish they wouldn’t have done it as it does nothing more than to cheapen the original and make the sequel look like uninspired trash in comparison. Of course when you have “cheap-qual”’s like the Aladdin sequels that were actually comparable to the original, it’s easy to see how and why these films continue to come down the pike. For The Jungle Book 2, however, this scenario unfortunately doesn’t apply; the films end result, no matter how pretty the animation may, is ultimately something that does nothing more than lessen the impact of the original.
After the ending of the original movie where Mowgli joins the man village, Mowgli decided that this wasn’t the life for him and quickly returned to the wild. Unfortunately for Mowgli, he’s entirely unaware of the dangers that await him in the jungle and when he disappears, Shanti, his new friend, goes out in search of him, only to find out that both Mowgli and his friend are now being hunted by the deadly Shere Khan. Once the danger is averted, Mowgli is once again faced with the decision of where to go: to a carefree life with Baloo or back to the village with the rest of his people.
The amazing thing about this film is it doesn’t bother changing the status quo; in the end Mowgli returns to the man village anyway, so what was the entire point of the film? The film adds nothing to the story of Mowgli as it simply plops him back in the place he was at the end of the original; it seems utterly pointless to have even made this film, but it’s easy to see why it was made. As one of the commenter’s in the DVD extras states, they already had the character designs and settings…all you had to come up with was a new story.
I shouldn’t be too surprised by the whole existence of the film, especially since it came out in 2003 (I thought it was a new film for 2008, but…surprise, it’s a useless re-release). The random sequels seem to have died down a bit at Disney, thankfully, but I guess their big money cash in now is re-releasing them on DVD.
Granted I’m nowhere near the audience for this DVD and I’m sure the little kids would love it, but it’s a shame that these films even exist; their plots are wafer thin and unlike the originals they’re based off of, they aren’t something the entire family can enjoy. The elements of Jungle Book 2 either seem like a re-hash of the first film or are simply as generic as can be, with Mowgli finding an interest in Shanti and growing older. Perhaps kids can find something to relate to here, but unlike the first film which I can still enjoy to this day, Jungle Book 2 just isn’t something I honestly want to spend a whole lot of time with.
I will say, purely from a visual standpoint, Jungle Book 2 is an impressive film. Colors are vibrant, detail is crisp and clear and everything about the film pops off the screen more than the original ever did or could have. It’s a beautiful film to look at, but the story is simply not something worst investing your time in.
Overall unless you’re a child, there’s no reason to put any effort into checking this release out. It’s hum-drum affair that’s pay off isn’t worth it. Skip It.
So this new edition of The Jungle Book 2 must be something special to warrant a re-release, right? Wrong. The only extra that wasn’t on the previous edition is a new “Mowgli’s Story Time Adventure” game. Yup, that’s the only difference, everything else remains the same. Not exactly worth anyone’s time, especially if you already own the previous edition. Packaging for the film comes in the form of a high-gloss slipcover with reflective foil background. Inside is an insert listing the chapters for the DVD as well as Blu-ray advertisements and the Movie Rewards code. Menus are simple and easy enough to navigate and feature some nice animation.
The aforementioned beautiful animation looks wonderful on this 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The clarity of it all is astounding and considering animation is the one venue I have yet to witness on Blu-ray, I absolutely cannot wait for Disney to start releasing some of their catalog on the high-definition format. In addition to the beautiful video, audio comes in the form of a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track as well as DTS audio, which has an obvious leg up on the Dolby Digital. Spanish and French language tracks are included as well.
For the extras we have a selection of deleted scenes (9:24) in animatic/storyboard form with audio as well as a song selection and subtitle feature for singing along with the tracks. Swinging on over to backstage Disney we have a synopsis of the original movie (2:59) that gives the viewer a quick refresher on Mowgli’s previous jungle exploits and a “Legacy of the The Jungle Book” (14:11) extra. Then of course there are the games to check out, but unless you have a desire to be bored out of your skull, I wouldn’t waste your time with them.
In the end this release just isn’t worth it. The previous edition has everything this one does except for a single game (whoopee!) and that simply isn’t worth it…not that the film itself is worth it either; I really wish I could say it was a worthy feature, but it’s just a simple retread with prettier and more up-to-date animation and none of the characters change in the least. Even with new voice actors the environment still felt the same, much to the films credit, but that simply wasn’t enough to get this film to be really exciting. Good fodder for TV babysitting, I suppose, but not good for much else. Skip It.
The Jungle Book 2: Special Edition is now available on DVD.