The 2016 Disney The Jungle Book film is released Digital HD/DisneyMoviesAnywhere today with Blu-ray and DVD versions available August 30th. The film is a reimagining of the Disney Classic and draws some from the original Kipling book, much in the same vein the live action Cinderella film was a few years ago. The base story is the same as the classic Disney version with most of the characters making an appearance in the new film, but there are some variations in different aspects explored. The movie is not a musical and is more intense (it is rated PG) and slightly darker than the original. I would advise parents to watch the film first to make sure it is appropriate for your child. Some of the animals and action sequences are on the scary side and may be too much for some kids.
This was my first time viewing the film, I missed it in theaters. I enjoyed the film and found the reimagining allowed for a different experience but kept true to the original Disney story. The film is visually stunning. The immersive environments and photo realistic characters and backgrounds draw you in. You become so immersed you tend to forget that almost everything you are seeing is computer generated. Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi, is the only person in the film. Some of the physical set around him is real and everything else computer. For more on the film itself here is Maggie’s review of the Jungle Book.
As with any home video release the question is how are the bonus features? The cover sticker highlights there are over 2 hours of bonus features. I had the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack version of the film. I think they went for quality over quantity in this release. There are only four bonus features, but they are well done. For full details and specifications of the Jungle Book home video release here is the press release.
The most interesting to me was the Jungle Book ReImagined. This is a 35 minute piece looking at the making of the film. It looks at the heritage of the film and nods to Disney history including the original film plus a Bambi sequence. Then it moves on to talk about the process and technology of this film. The combination of motion capture, live action and computer generation to create a unique experience for the audience. It continues on discussing the cast and then the music of the film. The 35 minutes went by rather quickly and I found myself wanting even more.. Especially on the technology and process of making the film, since I am a tech geek. This piece was well done and interesting.
I Am Mowgli is an eight minute featurette about Neel Sethi and his role of Mowgli. Neel has to carry this film since he is the only actor on camera and is in almost every shot. That is a tall order for a 10 year old (when he was cast) that had never acted before. He was selected from an audition process that looked at over 2,000 kids. I found it interesting how involved/hands on Jon Favreau was. He is in several of the scenes with Neel and working through it with him. This included in the mud, rain, dirt, etc.. Neel had a great quote.. he talked about how this film accounted for almost one tenth of his life since it took almost a year to shoot.
The third feature is King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer. This three minute piece felt awkward to me. I really thought it could have benefited from an introduction of what you were going to see and an explanation of the layers. Then showing the clip. Also this would have been really led to an interactive element to let you flip between the layers. The layers included were music, story boards, live action, motion capture, rough animation, and final film.
The last bonus feature was a full length commentary of the film by Jon Favreau as an audio track which was fairly standard fair. There were commercials/trailers for DisneyMoviesAnywhere and Zootopia on home video. A Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer is also included.
In conclusion I found this to be a solid home video offering. The bonus material was of good quality and the move looked great. If you enjoyed the film in theaters you will find the bonus features interesting and a chance to revisit and catch some more details of the film. If you missed it this is your chance to see a well done reimagining of a Disney classic.