After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.
1080p, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
2016, Rated PG, 1 hour, 46 minutes
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
Directed by: Jon Favreau
As a big fan of the original 1967 animated version, I was interested to see how Disney’s ongoing live-action treatment of its animated library would extend to The Jungle Book. Seeing as the original was not just anthropomorphic animal characters, but actual animals living in the jungle, there would certainly be a challenge in creating realistic believable versions of Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther. Adhering very much to the original storyline, with a few small wrinkles added, Jon Favreau succeeds brilliantly here. Bagheera, voiced perfectly by Ben Kingsley, is just as you would expect – caring, but stern, always with what he believes to be Mowgli’s best interests at heart. Same goes for Bill Murray’s Baloo – initially he appears to be motivated solely by self-interest, but of course, his conscious and true nature have him risking his life to save Mowgli by the end. And of course, Shere Khan, voiced superbly by Idris Alba, is out for revenge that can only be satisfied by extinguishing the life of the young man-cub.
Two of the original and most popular songs make their way into the film as well. Of course, Bear Necessities must be included, which was left largely intact. Certain nuances remain, such as Mowgli sitting on Baloo’s chest as he floats down the river on his back. Also included is I Wanna Be Like You with Christopher Walken doing the number (sadly sans cowbell). It is more of a departure from the original, but still has all the key elements. Both songs are fun to see done in the live action format.
Though the final battle between Shere Khan and Mowgli plays out a bit differently than in the animated film, it is a satisfying conclusion that fits the story well.
I was especially excited to review this Blu-Ray for the 3D version. I prefer the 3D versions of films where it makes sense, and this is one of those instances in my opinion. The visual beauty of the forest scenes and the large expanses translate wonderfully to a 3D home theater presentation. Perhaps one of the best shots to exemplify this is when Bagheera and Mowgli cross on a tree in front of the roaring waterfall. The depth and composition of that shot is gorgeous. The culmination of Mowgli’s "visit" to King Louie’s ruins also benefited from 3D.
The audio was also phenomenal, presented here in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. The ambience of the jungle, where there are thousands of sounds to be heard, is done well. The score, which includes some new takes on the original music as well as some new passages is wonderful as well. The scene in which Mowgli first stumbles upon Raksha the snake may be the best use of surround sound I’ve heard in quite some time. You hear her voice come from one side, then another, then behind, then somewhere in front…all the while Mowgli is looking around trying to pinpoint from where the voice is coming. It was a truly excellent moment of the film.
I definitely enjoyed this modern take on the Disney classic. While part of me wants to see them continue to release original content, there are certainly appealing reasons to see how they interpret their animated vault collection with live action. In order to do it right, they put a superstar cast, proven director, and a beloved story together and the result was as you would expect. This is certainly one Disney movie I would not miss, especially if you like the original. On top of that, if you have a 3D setup and enjoy watching films in that format, this is a great choice.
- Lenticular Packaging
- "The Bare Necessities": From The Jungle To The Bayou
- The Return Of A Legend
- The Jungle Effect
- Developing Kaa
- The Jungle Book Around The World
- The Jungle Book Reimagined
- I Am Mowgli
- King Louie’s Temple: Layer By Layer
- Audio Commentary