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The Jungle Book Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by on Aug 26, 2016
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld checks out the Blu-ray for the wonderful, live-action/CGI version of the Disney film The Jungle Book. Cool extras? How does the movie look and sound when you take it home? Read our review!

By: Lynn Barker

In The Jungle Book, “man cub” Mowgli (Neel Sethi) has been raised by a wolf family. He loves them but wonders what else is out there in human villages? Is he missing out by not learning more human traits? What will happen to his jungle pals if he chooses to abandon them for humankind?

Mowgli with wolf "brother"Mowgli with wolf "brother"Courtesy of Disney

Who Am I?

Mowgli, a young “man cub” has been raised by wolf couple Raksha (voice of Lupita Nyong’o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) since babyhood when he was brought to them by black panther Bagheera (Sir Ben Kingsley). He is expected to behave like a wolf and is put down when he solves problems by using human tricks like creating tools. He must learn the ways of the pack.

Mowgli is protected by panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley)Mowgli is protected by panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley)Courtesy of Disney

Water Truce

During a severe drought, all the animals in the jungle gather at a huge rock surrounded by the only remaining water. A “Water Truce” is in effect so nobody is eating anybody. Huge and scary Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) comes to the rock and smells Mowgli. Man is not welcomed in the jungle. The tiger’s face was burned by a human’s torch and he hates all men. When the Water Truce ends they must give him the man cub or many will die.

Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens the wolf packShere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens the wolf packCourtesy of Disney

Leaving his Pack

Mowgli volunteers to leave on his own. Bagheera will guide him to the human village. Shere Khan jumps the duo on their way and Mowgli escapes alone. Deep in the jungle he meets giant python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) who knows that the boy’s father was killed by the tiger and he was an infant alone when found by Bagheera. Kaa shows Mowgli a vision explaining fire, Man’s “red flower” and its beauty and terrible destructive powers. Kaa is about to crush and eat Mowgli when he is rescued by huge bear Baloo (Bill Murray).

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with Baloo (Bill Murray)Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with Baloo (Bill Murray)Courtesy of Disney

Baloo Wants Honey

In return for saving his life, Baloo makes Mowgli fetch him honey from honeycombs perched high on a cliff. Mowgli uses human inventive ingenuity to get the honey and bear and boy form a friendship. Mowgli will leave when winter arrives.

Mowgli and Baloo take a swimMowgli and Baloo take a swimCourtesy of Disney

Meanwhile at Home

Shere Khan is furious that the wolf pack has let Mowgli leave and takes an awful toll on them. He demands that the boy be turned over to him when he returns. Bagheera, looking for Mowgli, finds him with Baloo and is a bit sad on learning the boy wants to stay with the bear. After Mowgli saves a baby elephant from a deep pit, again using human “tricks”, the elephants trust him.

Snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) tells Mowgli about his pastSnake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) tells Mowgli about his pastCourtesy of Disney

Grabbed by Monkeys

Mowgli is grabbed by a group of monkeys who take him to their leader King Louie (Christopher Walken), a ginormous orangutan who is sure Mowgli, being human, knows how to make fire. To him fire is power. Bagheera and Baloo cooperate to rescue Mowgli but Mowgli is angry when he learns of what Shere Khan has done to the wolf pack. Mowgli goes off to the human village alone and steals a lit torch. On the way back to the deep jungle to confront Shere Khan, he accidentally sets a huge fire. Will Mowgli confront the tiger? Will the animals help him? Will the fire be put out? Will his animal friends ever accept Mowgli as a human boy?

Mowgli faces gigantic King LouieMowgli faces gigantic King LouieCourtesy of Disney

Special Extra Features

The Blu-Ray/ DVD/ Digital Copy set has several nice extras. The big “Making Of” Featurette is called The Jungle Book Reimagined and features fun director Jon Favreau chatting with a producer and the Visual Effects head about keeping the important parts of the original 1967 Disney animated film while using modern digital technology to create the talking animals. Casting Neel Sethi as Mowgli and production design and music are featured as well as bringing puppets and motion capture actors on set to interact with Neel. Voice actors are involved doing their recordings, singing and talking about their characters. A pretty thorough, entertaining extra worth watching.

Mowgli faces new and scary challengesMowgli faces new and scary challengesCourtesy of Disney
  • I Am Mowgli features newbie, now 12-year-old actor Neel Sethi. Jon talks about why he picked Neel for the role and we see him auditioning and learning how to interact with motion capture actors and puppets. Neel calls his only piece of wardrobe a “diaper”. Okay, yeah, it looks kinda like a red diaper. He was brought to recording sessions to see the actors record animal voices. Cool extra. You feel like this guy would make a good friend.
  • King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – I’m not really sure why this extra is called this. I was expecting a bunch of designs and then the building of what was actually on set but instead, this is about the music; taking some of the original songs and writing new ones. Christopher Walken who voices King Louie is seen singing “I Want to be Like You”.  It’s fun but don’t get the title.
  • Audio Commentary by Director Jon Favreau is jam-packed with technical information about every shot and Jon also reveals some fun on set tidbits and Easter Eggs you can see in several shots.  Very enjoyable but be sure to watch the film first since he talks over almost all of it!

The Jungle Book Blu-ray Trailer


Wrapping Up

This home entertainment package looks and sounds just great. I still root for blooper reels but there is plenty of behind-the-scenes and on set action depicted.
The audio commentary is very informative and often fun.

As we said when reviewing the film in theaters, this new version of The Jungle Book is beautiful to look at. 3-D only adds to the experience rather than being a dark detraction. CGI animals are extremely believable and “real”. Newcomer Neel Sethi Is charming as Mowgli. Real voice actor stand-outs are Bill Murray as the funny, charming Baloo the bear and Idris Elba as the frightening yet pathetic wounded tiger Shere Khan.

Mowgli with his animal palsMowgli with his animal palsCourtesy of Disney

The usual Disney themes of cooperation and pride in being yourself etc. are obvious but not laid on too thickly. Whether you are a fan of the early animated film or the Kipling novel or not, you can really get into the tale of Mowgli and his jungle pals, all of which will carve a special place in your heart. We go four stars for this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital set.

The Jungle Book Blu-Ray Rating:4

The Jungle Book Blu-rayThe Jungle Book Blu-rayCourtesy of Disney

The Jungle Book is available on Blu-ray + DVD August 30th!

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