Featured Blu-ray review - The Jungle Book 2
The film begins with shadow puppets. (They used this motif in the menus, which was a mistake as I found it hard to figure out which item was selected.) Mowgli explains to the other kids in the man village about his life in the jungle. The puppet show ends when Ranjan, Mowgli's adoptive young brother, attacks the screen. After a little bit of flirting with Shanti, she has to go home to her family and Mowlgi goes home with his. It is clear he loves being in the man village, but he also misses life in the jungle.
One day, Mowgli, Ranjan, and Shanti are playing near the river. Or to be more accurate Mowgli and Ranjan play a prank on Shanti and this starts a whole song and dance number of what is better, the jungle or the village. Mowgli wins the debate and convinces all of the kids of the village to follow him into the jungle. Of course, this gets him into a whole lot of trouble, so much trouble that he decides maybe living in the jungle was better after all.
Meanwhile in the jungle, Baloo has completely lost his mind. We see him singing "The Bear Necessities" with a Mowgli stand-in made up of a coconut and a banana peel. Bagheera is worried about his friend's mental health, but he's more worried when Baloo sneaks off to "rescue" the real Mowgli from the man village. He even calls in Colonel Hathi to stop him. They fail.
Not stopping Baloo isn't their biggest problem, as Shere Khan is back and looking for revenge for what happened to him at the end of the first film. He gets to the man village shortly after Baloo does. Baloo and Mowgli are play-fighting when they are spotted by Shanti. She thinks Baloo is a dangerous bear attacking Mowgli and she calls for help. This alerts the adults in the village, who spot Shere Khan first and go after him, which allows Baloo and Mowgli to leave. ... With Shanti following in an attempt to rescue Mowgli.
Like I said last time, there is almost nothing about this movie that lives up to the predecessor. The best part of the movie is the non-character animations. The backgrounds and the effect animation is well done, but that's only a very small part of the movie. The character animations, on the other hand, look cheap compared to the backgrounds. The music isn't as good this time around, except for "The Bear Necessities", which is sung more than once. (It is clear the filmmakers also knew where the movie's strength was when it came to the music.) The movie is only 72 minutes long, but there's not enough plot here to fill up its running time and the characters are not given enough to do to draw in the viewers. The voice acting is okay. John Goodman is very good as Baloo, as he manages to find the same tone Phil Harris did in the original. Too often, however, the actors are trying too hard to mimic the original voices, but I guess they didn't have another option.
To be fair, there's nothing about The Jungle Book 2 that is truly terrible, but it really does feel unnecessary. The Jungle Book has aged well, so for most people watching that film again it's better than seeing this one.
There are no new extras on the Blu-ray. There's a three-minute synopsis of the first film, in case you can't remember what happened in the first movie. Then again, if you are interested in this film, you really should own the first movie. There is a 14-minute featurette on the The Legacy of The Jungle Book. There are also two deleted scenes and two short music numbers.
The technical presentation is as good as you would expect, given the fact that this was originally produced as a direct-to-DVD release. The level of detail is as strong as the animation style will allow. (Like I said, the character designs look cheep compared to major animated releases.) The backgrounds are great, on the other hand. The colors pop, which helps the overall look. The audio isn't quite as good, as the 5.1 surround sound track is uncomplicated. The dialogue is clear, but your surround sound speakers will feel left out for the most part.
Asking $25 for The Jungle Book 2 on Blu-ray seems a bit much. It is a catalog title for a film that is not a classic. Maybe grab it if you can find it on sale for $20 and you like the first film enough to want to spend more time with the same characters.
Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-03-17