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    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    St. Louis, MO

    BLU-RAY REVIEW: Disney's The Jungle Book - Diamond Edition

    1967 Classic Family Fun Hits Hi-Def Home Video...

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    Based on Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli story, collected in The Jungle Book and [I]The Second Jungle Book, Disney's The Jungle Book finally makes its appearance on hi-def home video. The 19th animated film by Disney, The Jungle Book was released almost 50 years ago, in 1967 and tells the tale of Mowgli the man-cub and the various singing and dancing animals who live in a jungle unlike any other anywhere.

    It all begins when Bagheera the black panther finds the baby boy Mowgli in the jungle and takes him to Mother Wolf, who raise the child as one of her own. Ten years later, Shere Khan, the Bengal Tiger, looking to satisfy her hunger for man, begins to hunt Mowgli. Thus, it's decided by the animals Mowgli should return to his own people. Yet, even with Shere Khan stalking him, Mowgli isn't convinced.

    While the story's central character is no doubt Mowgli, the story's most endearing and beloved are the variety of animals who raise the man-cub...or hunt him. There's never before or sense been a cast of characters like Baloo the bear, Kaa the python, Colonel Hathi the elephant, King Louie the monkey, and the vultures Dizzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Buzzie. And let's not forget Raksha the Mother Wolf, Bagheera the black panther, and even Shere Khan, the bengal tiger. Each plays an important part in not only the development of the story, but in Mowgli's character development too. Each of the animals lends a part of itself to Mowgli's personality. It's this character development and the Mowgli's internal and external journey throughout the film that will - now, years later - appeal to fans who first watched this film as children. And let's not forget the children of the adults who watched this film some three or four decades ago. After all, it's those children who'll enjoy this film without question and for what it truly was made to be - an engaging animated musical masterpiece featuring dancing and singing animals. That's really what Disney was trying to create here and thankfully they've succeeded. Sure, as adults, we can criticize parts we now, decades later, realize weren't done in the finest fashion, but - to a child - The Jungle Book is and can be perfect.

    The Jungle Book
    features a fully restored and remastered 1080p video transfer which impresses. The colors are saturated and bright, black levels are deep and contrast is solid. Likewise, there's no grain to be found and animation still - after nearly 50 years - looks, while aged, smooth. As for sound, the film features a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track which fills the sound stage, especially during musical numbers. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, effects fill the side and front speakers while leaving the rear speakers in reserve for special use. Overall, the music has never sounded this good and will surely impress fans both young and old alike.

    As for special features, the set includes well over 2 hours worth which will impress both die-hard fans of the film as well as newer fans looking to learn more about the film and its production process. Included here is the 10-minute "Music, Memories & Mowgli" features songwriter Richard M. Sherman, animator Floyd Norman and Diane Disney Miller meet and discuss everything from the film's animation and music to Walt Disney himself (who passed 10 months prior to the film's theatrical release); a 9-minute alternative ending, presented in storyboard format; an 18-minute behind-the-scenes look at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the park's many rides and animals; the 9-minute "Disney Animation: Sparking Creativity," a behind-the-scenes tour of the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, where ideas take shape and film planning develops; the 13-minute "Bear-E-Oke Sing Along," which gives viewers the opportunity to sing along with "Trust in Me," "I Wan'na Be Like You," "The Bare Necessities," "Colonel Hathi's March" and "That's What Friends are For."

    Other special features included here are those originally featured on the previously released DVD. These include the 46-minute, 5-part "The Bare Necessities: The Making of The Jungle Book;" a cast and crew commentary with composer Richard M. Sherman, supervising pencil animator Andreas Deja, Mowgli voice actor Bruce Reitherman and various others. Even more special features include the 15-minute "Disney's Kipling: Walt's Magic Touch on a Literary Classic," the 9-minute "The Lure of The Jungle Book," the 5-minute "Mowgli's Return to the Wild," and the 4-minute "Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston Discuss Character Animation. Other bonus features include a selection of Disney songs both with and without lyrics to sing along, deleted scenes and the music video for "I Wan'na Be Like You" by The Jonas Brothers.

    For fans of The Jungle Book who remember watching the film decades ago and the magic it brought to life then, this is a perfect purchase. It includes all of the fantastic characters you know and love along with a remastered video, updated soundtrack and a slough of bonus features. And let's not forget the fact The Jungle Book is a great family film that'll no doubt become a quick favorite of your young ones. Mowgli, Baloo, Kai, King Louie, Mother Wolf and more are all waiting for you to join them for a song, a dance and new magical memories courtesy of Disney's latest Blu-ray Diamond Edition release.

    Disney's The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition is available now on Blu-ray hi-def home video wherever fine home video is sold.

    - Jess C. Horsley
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    "Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"

    Jess C. Horsley

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