The Jungle Book (2016) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 5, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“The Jungle Book” is a film that no doubt will surprise you because of its visual beauty, the wonderful acting and seeing the book and animated film brought to life. This is my favorite Disney live adaptation of a Disney Animated Classic so far and I really enjoyed this film a lot. Definitely one of the best family films of 2016!
© 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Jungle Book (2016)
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 106 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish and French
RATED: PG (For Some Sequences of Scary Action and Peril)
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”
Directed by Jon Favreau
Screenplay by Justin Marks
Produced by Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor
Co-Producer: John Bartnicki, Joyce Cox
Executive-Producer: Molly Allen, Karen Gilchrist
Cinematography by Bill Pope
Music by John Debney
Edited by Adam Gerstel, Mark Livolsi
Casting by Sarah Finn
Production Design by Christopher Glass
Art Direction by Ravi Bansal, John Lord booth III, Ilgi Candar, Andrew L. Jones, Mike Stassi
Set Decoration by Amanda Moss Serino
Costume Design by Laura Jean Shannon
Neel Sethi as Mowgli
Featuring the Voices of:
Bill Murray as Baloo
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera
Idris Elba as Shere Khan
Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa
Giancarlo Esposito as Akela
Christopher Walken as King Louie
Garry Shandling as Ikki
Brighton Rose as Gray
In an epic adventure directed by Jon Favreau (IRON MAN), Mowgli, a man-cub raised in the jungle by a family of wolves, embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known. Featuring an all-star voice cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Scarlett Johansson, THE JUNGLE BOOK is “stunning” (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter).
Back in 1893-1895, English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling wrote a collection of stories that were published in various magazines and give moral lessons to young readers. The stories would go on to be known as “The Jungle Book”.
And in 1967, the beloved classic animated film was born. Walt Disney and writer Bill Peet decided that the 19th animated feature would be “The Jungle Book” featuring a storyline inspired by Kipling’s stories (Disney did not want the darker storyline to be in the animated film, since the goal was to create a family film) but also incorporating music.
But fastforward to 2016 and Disney, who have been doing live film adaptions of their popular Disney Animated Classics, decided to give “The Jungle Book” a chance to be a live action film but to also incorporate a story more faithful to Rudyard Kipling’s book (as back in 1967, Disney couldn’t make the children’s animated film too dark).
The live action version would be directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”, “Iron Man 2”, “Zathura: A Space Adenture”) and a screenplay by Justin Marks (“Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”, “Rewind”).
The film would star new young actor, Neel Sethi and voice acting would be provided by many popular stars such as Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken and Garry Shandling (Garry’s final film that he had worked on before his death).
“The Jungle Book” was a success among critics and in the box office, earning over $963 million (budget was $175 million) and the film would become the third highest grossing film of 2016 (as of September 2016).
And now, “The Jungle Book” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD!
“The Jungle Book” begins with a “Man Club” named Mowgli (portrayed by Neel Sethi) being trained by a panther named Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley).
As Bagheera takes Mowgli to the river to get some water with the other animals, he joins up with his family of wolves that raised him, his wolf father Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and his mother Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o).
When the predator, a tiger that all in the jungle has feared, Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) comes to the river, he taunts everyone. But when he sees Mowgli, he tells the wolves that if they don’t bring him the man club, he will end the peace truce among him and the animals in the jungle.
With the wolves fearing that Shere Khan can terrorize all of them, they discuss on what to do with Mowgli and suggest that he should go back to where other people like him live. Raksha is against it as she has raised Mowgli since he was small and considers him as one of her own cubs.
But seeing everyone arguing, Mowgli makes up his mind and tells his family of wolves that in order to fix things, he will leave and go to where the other people like him are living. And Bagheera agrees to help Mowgli get back to the village of where his people are from.
As they are heading to the village, immediately Shere Khan starts to go for the attack in order to kill Mowgli, but Bagheera manages to fend Shere Khan’s attack temporarily.
As Mowgli barely escapes from Shere Khan, he ends up in another part of the jungle where he comes across a huge snake named Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and she explains to him how he was brought to the jungle, how his father used the red flower (fire) which is magical that it brings light but it can also bring destruction.
She explains that Mowgli’s father brought him to the jungle, inside a cave but Shere Khan found them. When his father tried to protect the young boy, he used the flame to burn Shere Khan’s face, but in the process, sacrificed his life and died to protect his son.
And as Kaa is slowly entrancing the young boy in order to kill him, he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray) and the two become friends and partners.
But Shere Khan is determined of killing the young boy, while Mowgli and Baloo go on several (dangerous) adventures together. But will Mowgli return to his home where the humans live? Or will he stay in the jungle, the only home he knows.
“The Jungle Book” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is absolute magnificent. The visual effects of this film is amazing as every animal looks realistic, the CG and overall environments look realistic despite the film being shot via motion capture on a blue screen and for the most part, this is one of the most beautiful films to come from Disney and showcase how far digital technology has come in reproducing animals and environments. Details are fantastic and the overall picture quality is vibrant with no problematic artifacts or banding issues.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Jungle Book” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks.
Audiophiles will no doubt take note of how wonderful this film sounds as it is quite immersive. From every sound of Mowgli running and hearing him on branches that crack, hearing the elephants moving in the distances, stones breaking, fires spreading, the surround channels and LFE coming alive with every scream or roar, may it be Baloo or King Louie, everything is crystal clear, dialogue, music and sound effects.
For the most part, not only do you get fantastic picture quality but an equally fantastic lossless soundtrack as well!
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish and French
“The Jungle Book” comes with the following special feature:
- The Jungle Book Reimagined – (35:02) Interviews with the cast and crew about the making of “The Jungle Book”.
- I Am Mowgli – (8:17) The cast of young actor Neel Sethi and an interview with Neel.
- King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – (3:14) The making of the music for “King Louie’s Temple” with Richard Sherman.
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Jon Favreau
“The Jungle Book” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD Code.
I have watched the original Disney Animated Classic “The Jungle Book” numerous times in my life and have reviewed it several times for J!-ENT each time it has been released on DVD and then later on Blu-ray.
But when I heard that “The Jungle Book” was going to receive a live film adaptation, I have to admit that I was skeptical at first.
Partly because the animated film was a musical and an animated film with action and featured a lot of talking animals, I really couldn’t picture a live action version of the film.
Having watched the 2016 version of “The Jungle Book”, I was absolutely floored by how fantastic this film ending up becoming.
From the detail of the creatures in the jungle, how young actor Neel Sethi was utilized in the film using motion capture and blue screen technology and creating breathtaking sequences that look real and authentic.
And while “The Jungle Book” manages to combine the best of both worlds, from being inspired by the original Rudyard Kipling book, because it’s a Disney film, you do get music but the film focuses on the characters, their actions and focusing on story.
But fans of the Disney Animated Classic will no doubt be happy of hearing Mowgli and Baloo singing “The Bare Necessities” or an impressive scene with the giant King Louie primate singing his catchy song as well. These are two memorable songs in this 2016 Disney film but what you remember the most are how impressive child actor Neel Sethi was in the role of Mowgli.
This film was perfectly cast and the film rides on the shoulders of young Sethi and everything worked magnificently. He was the right kid to do the job and his awesome performance was quite evident in the film.
And as for the animals, the film also hit multiple homeruns by having Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken. Perfect casting as everyone did their voice role magnificently.
But it’s one thing to have perfect casting, what made this film become so impressive is the visual effects. With each animal featured, they look so real and authentic and goes to show how far digital technology has come in reproducing the look of animals for this film. From the hair on the wolves, Baloo to the markings and the mud stains that are on Shere Khan.
And also, I give a thumbs up to costume/make-up artists for the consistency by showing Mowgli having scars and bumps throughout the film and not the typical, banal Hollywood forgetfulness of showing lingering wounds throughout a film.
As for the rating, while the film is rated PG because Mowgli comes across many threats, the film received a PG rating. And while young children may get a little spooked out by certain characters, I watched the film with my family and my son absolutely loved it. But similar to the animated film and if you are familiar with the book, then know that due to various challenges and threats to Mowgli, parental guidance is suggested.
As for the Blu-ray release, both picture quality and the lossless soundtrack are magnificent. This is a film that videophiles and audiophiles dream of experiencing during a viewing of a film and “The Jungle Book” scores high marks for video and audio. As for special features, a few featurettes and an audio commentary are included.
Overall, “The Jungle Book” is a film that no doubt will surprise you because of its visual beauty, the wonderful acting and seeing the book and animated film brought to life. This is my favorite Disney live adaptation of a Disney Animated Classic so far and I really enjoyed this film a lot.
Definitely one of the best family films of 2016!
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