Disney’s reimagined version of The Jungle Book is one of my favorite films of 2016, thanks in large part to the visionary genius of director Jon Favreau. The film came to Blu-Ray last August, but the 3D version was delayed. With so many impressive visuals and an escape into the world of Rudyard Kipling, fans can now dive beyond the second dimension with this new Collector’s Edition, available November 15th.
Rudyard Kipling’s timeless Mowgli stories are retold, borrowing elements that originated in his books as well as characters unique to Disney’s animated classic. What emerges is a film with more depth than the original, one that is capable of touching your heart and soul while also imbuing the childlike charm and humor you expect from this story. It not only matches the quality of storytelling from the Walt Disney version, but exceeds it.
With nearly every shot composed for 3D, this is one of the most spectacular releases the format has ever seen. From the opening backwards pan through the jungle to Shere Khan leaping off the screen into your living room, The Jungle Book proves that 3D home viewing is not just a frivolity, but a necessary layer to enjoy this film’s full potential. Even if you already own it in 2D, the quality of 3D is worth the double dip.
Now bearing the title of “Collector’s Edition,” this release includes everything from the previous set, from every bonus feature to the DVD and digital copy. It also expands the bonus offerings with five exclusive bonus features exclusive to this release to sweeten the deal for those purchasing this for the second time.
The Jungle Book‘s 3D Blu-Ray presentation is nothing short of spectacular. It dazzles in every shot, the majority of which were framed with 3D in mind. But if there’s one scene that stands out among all the rest, it’s Kaa’s hypnosis where the camera zooms into her eye to reveal Mowgli’s past. In 3D, you can understand why Mowgli fell into her trap.
Both HD discs offer breathtaking 1080p high definition experiences. This film has so many amazing details and in this medium, you can see every strand of hair on the many animal stars. The film’s color palette features a lot of earth tones and black colors are expertly handled on these discs. The film also features some bright colors to contrast the darker parts of the jungle and pay homage to the animated influence and those also dazzle in this presentation.
On DVD, a considerable amount of detail is softened and blurred in comparison to the Blu-Ray. The color spectrum also feels less vast, with blacks looking lightened and bright colors feeling washed out.
The primary audio track on both Blu-Ray discs is a 7.1 DTS-HDMA mix. It’s an impressive mix, utilizing the real channels almost constantly with ambient jungle sounds. The Fantasound score appears to be recreated here as well, with instruments sounding as if they bounce around the room (particularly during the Kaa scene). And with plenty of action sequences, your subwoofer will be put to the test. Other audio options on this disc are French and Spanish 5.1 and a 2.0 descriptive audio track for the visually impaired.
The DVD offers 5.1 mixes in English, French and Spanish, as well as the stereo descriptive track.
Five new bonus features offer nearly 15-minutes of exclusive new bonus features:
- The Bare Necessities: From the Jungle to the Bayou (3:30) – Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins work with Bill Murray in New Orleans to create the soundtrack’s jazzy version of “The Bear Necessities.”
- The Return of a Legend (3:41) – Richard Sherman meets with Jon Favreau to discuss changing the lyrics to “I Wanna Be Like You.”
- The Jungle Effect (3:20) – A comparison reel that reveals what Neel Sethi was working with on a blue screen set for many of the film’s key moments.
- The Jungle Book Around the World (1:56) – A multi-langiage reel that reveals what the film sounds like in Spanish, Czech, Hindi, Polish, Russian, German, Italian, Kazakh, Hungarian, French, Ukrainian, Portuguese and Telegu.
- Developing Kaa (2:51) – With no explanation, this storyboard version of the Kaa scene differs slightly from the final film version.
All of the bonus features from the previous release are carried over as well:
- The Jungle Book Reimagined (35:02) – Director Jon Favreau, producer Brigham Taylor and cinematographer Christopher Glass discuss how this version of The Jungle Book came to life in a very revealing behind-the-scenes feature. Featuring footage from production including voice recording sessions, the program also highlights the music, including Richard Sherman and John Debney.
- I Am Mowgli (8:18) – Jon Favreau explains why Neel Sethi was the best boy to play Mowgli in this short featurette about how difficult the performance was.
- King Louie’s Temple: Layer By Layer (3:14) – Footage of the orchestral recording session for “I Wanna Be With You” is juxtaposed with Christopher Walken’s recording sessions, storyboards, pre-vis, and final animation from the film.
- Audio Commentary (1:45:54) – Jon Favreau leads this solo commentary track, revealing many of the technical challenges of this huge achievement in blending live action with CG and motion capture. Disney fans will appreciate the many nods to classic Disney animated moments, which are also revealed in this track in case you missed them.
The only bonus feature on the DVD is “King Louie’s Temple: Layer By Layer.”
Packaging & Design
The Jungle Book Collector’s Edition is housed in a standard Blu-Ray case with double disc holders on the interior of both sides. The 3D disc is stacked on top of the DVD, while the 2D disc sits alone on the left side. Inserts include a digital copy code, a flier for Disney Movie Club, and a code to add the new bonus features to your Disney Movies Anywhere account. The case comes inside a slipcover with a lenticular card attached in the first pressing.
The 3D Blu-Ray goes directly to the main menu. The new 2D Blu-Ray starts with an ad for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Beauty and the Beast. The recycled DVD opens with ads for Disney Movies Anywhere, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Zootopia. Clicking “Sneak Peeks” from the main menu plays a bonus ad for Disney Movie Rewards before repeating the other two trailers.
The Jungle Book is worthy of being in your collection, whether it be the 2D combo pack that came out in August or this new 3D Collector’s Edition. If you own a 3D TV, this is guaranteed to be one of the finest looking releases in your collection. There aren’t enough new bonus features to warrant a rebuy alone, but they are a nice incentive to double dip if you’re also interested in 3D.