The Jungle Book 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Disney rarely botches transfers of their animated flicks, and Book 2 provided another good visual experience.
Sharpness mostly seemed solid. Some wide shots came across as a smidgen soft at times, but those occasions appeared rare. For the most part, the movie looked concise and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, but some light edge enhancement appeared. Print flaws looked absent, as I detected no examples of specks, grit, or other issues.
Given the jungle setting, I expected to see a varied palette, and Book 2 didn’t disappoint. The movie enjoyed some lovely and vivid hues from start to finish. The different characters and settings presented a mix of lush and rich colors that the DVD reproduced impeccably. Black levels also were solid, with dark tones that looked deep and dense. Shadow detail came across as detailed and accurate and never seemed overly thick. Overall, Book 2 consistently looked positive.
The Jungle Book 2 presented generally positive audio. The DVD included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Based on my comparisons, I detected no substantial differences between the pair.
The soundfield maintained an emphasis in the forward channels, but it blended with all the speakers reasonably nicely. In the front, the music showed fine stereo separation, and effects also appeared in their appropriate places and blended smoothly. Those elements came to life well during the movie’s more active scenes, and the movie included nice use of localized dialogue; speech even emerged from the surrounds at times, especially during the puppet show that opened the flick. Otherwise, the rear channels mostly just provided general reinforcement, but they offered good activity when it mattered.
For the most part, audio quality seemed fine. Speech sounded natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects were clean and accurate, and they displayed nice depth for the louder sounds. For example, the stomping feet of the elephants demonstrated good punch, and thunder sounded good. Unfortunately, music featured fairly weak low-end response. The songs sounded clear and bright, but they lacked heft and seemed to accentuate high-end too heavily. This was most noticeable during the film’s rhythmic songs, as they failed to deliver much power. Nonetheless, the track remained positive enough to earn a “B”.
How did the picture and extras of this “Special Edition” compare to those of the original DVD from 2003? Both looked and sounded the same; I noticed no differences between the two.
Though Disney calls this a “Special Edition”, it doesn’t add much to the prior DVD. In fact, it simply replicates the old release’s extras along with one new piece: Mowgli’s Story Time Adventure. This button-mashing game retells the movie’s story via the puppet technique seen at the beginning. That makes it mildly interesting but no better than that.
A smattering of supplements appear on The Jungle Book 2. The Original Movie Recap offers exactly what it implies: a two-minute and 58-second synopsis of The Jungle Book. It won’t do much for those already familiar with the film, but it’s a good way to bring new viewers up to snuff.
After this we find two Deleted Scenes. We can watch these with or without introductions by Disney senior vice president for music Matt Walker and executive vice president Sharon Morrill. Taken all together with the intros, the clips run nine minutes and 22 seconds. Both offer unused musical numbers called “I Got You Beat” and “Braver”. Each presents a rough music track with storyboards. Neither seems very entertaining and they were good cuts. Walker and Morrill helpfully tell us why the scenes weren’t used.
What would a Disney animated DVD be without a game? Here we get Mowgli’s Jungle Ruins Maze Game. This makes you wander a labyrinth and answer some jungle animal related questions. The latter aspect makes the game a little more entertaining than usual, but not much. Mostly you wander through the maze and hope to eventually get out of there. When you do, the “reward” is nothing more than a clip from the movie. Yawn!
A basic featurette, The Legacy of The Jungle Book runs 14 minutes and 10 seconds as it presents the usual mix of movie shots, behind the scene snippets, and interviews. We hear from Walt Disney Company vice-chairman Roy Disney, actors John Rhys-Davies, John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Jim Cummings, and Mae Whitman, producer Mary Thorne, production color stylist Wes Champion, consulting producer Chris Chase, art director Michael Peraza, background supervisor Beverly McNamara, director Steve Trenbirth, CG animator Ian Richards, lead character animators Ian Harrowell, Kevin Peaty, Kelly Baigent, Simon Ashton, and Myke Sutherland, clean up supervisor Nicola Flynn, and senior vice president for music Matt Walker.
The program covers a few different topics. We learn about visuals and backgrounds for Book 2 as well as the new actors and music. Not surprisingly, the tone remains light and fluffy, but a few interesting tidbits emerge along the way. I didn’t learn anything particularly useful about the movie, but it’s always fun to see actors record their voices. I must admit it’s awfully disconcerting to watch Cummings – who looks like an aging Jimmy Buffett fan – do his dead-on Sterling Holloway impersonation, though; that voice and Cummings’ appearance really don’t match!
Next we get three music videos. “W-I-L-D” and “Jungle Rhythm” simply offer clips from the movie and include nothing new or noteworthy. “I Wanna Be Like You” by Smashmouth doesn’t seem much better. It shows recording studio shots intercut with film snippets. All three are eminently skippable.
Disney’s Song Selection basically acts as an alternate form of chapter menu. It lets you jump to any of the film’s 10 song performances, and it also allows you to show on-screen lyrics. Sing Along with the Movie expands the latter concept, as it presents the words while you watch the movie. Neither does anything for me, but someone might like them. One cool aspect of “Sing Along” is that the words change colors as the songs progress, which makes it easier for kids to follow the lyrics.
When you start the DVD, you’ll find the usual complement of advertisements. Here we get commercials for Sleeping Beauty, WALL-E, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, The Sword in the Stone and Disney Movie Rewards. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Phineas and Ferb, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, TinkerBell, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Secret of the Magic Gourd and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. No trailer for Book 2 shows up here.
Despite its theatrical release, The Jungle Book 2 feels like a direct-to-video product at heart. It provides a fairly flat tale that never threatens to catch fire and turn interesting. The DVD presents good picture and audio quality along with a modest set of supplements. Book 2 might appeal to fans of the original, but it doesn’t seem like anything above average.
Should fans who already own the 2003 DVD pursue this “Special Edition” of Jungle Book 2? Nope. It’s virtually the same disc – it simply adds one tedious game to the mix. If you don’t have the old release, you can go with the SE, but there’s absolutely no reason to “upgrade”.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE JUNGLE BOOK 2