Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is a Disney cover, with all of the main characters involved. Nothing spectacular, but not bad either. It is a kid’s movie, and the cover is classic Disney. Enough said. My 2 year old knows it’s the Jungle Book 2, and that is all that the cover needs to do really.
The main menu features a few of the monkeys playing drums in the jungle, with Baloo and Mowgli flittering in to do a little dance. It is on a loop so it gets old quick, but at least it’s not a static menu. Again, for about the 100th time, I will comment on how cool it is that Disney films include a “Fast Play” feature that lets you essentially skip the previews if you like. All DVDs in my opinion should have this feature.
The Special Edition of the Jungle Book 2 includes 2 games, 3 music videos, deleted scenes, and a few shorts that detail the original Jungle Book and its legacy. Overall the features were pretty good, but again, they are all included on the original 2003 Jungle Book 2 DVD release, with the exception of the “Mowgli’s Story Time Adventure,” which is really quite clunky and slow, and not at all fun.
The music videos include a Smash Mouth (apparently they no longer record anything but music for animated movies) video for “the Bare Necessities”, as well as some sing-a-longs for the songs in the movie, and the ability to jump right to the parts of the film where the songs are located.
The short feature “Legacy of the Jungle Book” is about a 15 minute long look at the original movie, as well as behind the scenes of the Jungle Book 2. Not a bad little feature, and not too long either.
Overall the extras are decent, if not a little bit forgettable.
Basically the Jungle Book 2 is a straight to video extension of the original Jungle Book movie, with the same characters (albeit using different voice actors). The feel of the movie is almost the same, as it takes place directly where the initial Jungle Book left off. Mowgli is now living with a human family in the village, near the jungle where his great big buddy Baloo still lounges. Baloo, and to a lesser extent Bagheera miss the little man cub, but Mowgli has found some new human friends, in the adorable best friend Shanti (who is a girl about the same age as Mowgli) and her little brother Ranjan. Mowgli enjoys telling the two stories about life in the jungle, while he pines to return to the carefree life that he left behind.
Mowgli still has that jungle beat in his heart as the movie progresses, and Baloo, who misses his little friend can’t keep himself away from the dangers of the village, as he attempts to see Mowgli one more time. Unfortunately, Baloo is not the only jungle creature with Mowgli on his mind, as the evil tiger Shere Khan still is smarting from being outsmarted in the original Jungle Book by the little man cub. As fate would have it, both Shere Khan and Baloo end up searching for Mowgli in the village on the same night, and as the village erupts, Mowgli and Baloo escape Shere Khan, while Shanti and Ranjan chase after Mowgli, as they think the big bear has kidnapped the boy.
Basically the rest of the movie involves Mowgli and Baloo joining up with Shanti and Ranjan, in an attempt to keep Shere Khan from getting revenge on Mowgli.
The Jungle Book 2 feels like a redo of the original film, which is really not that bad of an idea. While the voice acting is obviously different (it has been 36 years since the original Jungle Book was released) it still works. John Goodman is a great Baloo, and Haley Joel Osment is good as Mowgli. The songs are catchy, just like the original, and the spirit of the movie is identical to the original. While there is nothing really original, or mind blowing about this straight to DVD release, it is a fun watch, and kids will enjoy seeing the crew return for more jungle fun.
Video & Audio: 8/10
The video is (obviously) a great upgrade on the original, and the DVD looks vibrant and clean, as all Disney DVD’s do. The style is similar to the original, so the feel stays the same, but the depth of the animation and backgrounds is of course far superior to the original.
The audio was also great, and with this being a very music driven movie, the levels were good. Dialogue and music were pretty close in terms of the mix, as neither overpowered the other. Overall another great Disney video and audio release.
The Jungle Book 2 was originally released in 2003. This new “Special Edition” doesn’t really add much to the first release, as it only includes one additional feature, which is a game (and not a very fun game at that). If you have the first, don’t bother getting this release. I thought the movie was fun, and if you have kids, it is an easy buy. Just try to find a decent price on this one, as it was straight to DVD.
Overall Score 6/10