The Jungle Book
Modern lovers of Disney/Pixar movies (you "Frozen" fans), you will be shell-shocked at the pace of "The Jungle Book" - it’s sort of a leisurely stroll through the Indian jungle compared to today’s fast-cutting, rapid-paced flicks. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t packed with lovable characters, led in fine style by Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther. And it has a bevy of baddies working overtime to stop Mowgli the Man Cub from reaching the man village: Kaa the Snake and King Louie of the Apes are able warmups for the sinister antagonisms of Shere Khan the Tiger. But the film takes its time, particularly in its first act, and its hero isn’t the brightest shimmer at the watering hole. It’ll take a little investment for "The Jungle Book" to pay off.
But this was Walt Disney’s last film, and he helped make it an unforgettable journey about friendship and the joys of nature. It’s both charming for adults and a delight for children - and a few of the songs (particularly "The Bare Necessities") will stick with audiences for some time.
On Blu-ray, the picture appears clear and bright, and the 7.1 DTS-HD helps update the movie with surround. Several of the special features are winsome: the "Disney Intermission" is better executed than most, and reminiscing with Diane Disney Miller (who passed before this release), Floyd Norman and co-composer Richard M. Sherman is actually quite interesting. The alternate ending is a huge surprise; it’s extensive - effectively a whole new act that might have been tacked onto the tale. And the profile of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, while a bit of a repeat for fans of the amusement parks, is nonetheless well produced.