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The Jungle Book (Blu-ray Review)

Jungle-BookDisney presents the live-action epic adventure The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Chef”) and produced by Favreau and Brigham Taylor (executive producer of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Tomorrowland”), “The Jungle Book” is a live-action epic adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, inspired by Disney’s classic 1967 animated film and centered on Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Disney’s Groundbreaking, Live-Action Adventure arrives on Digital HD August 23 and on Blu-ray™ August 30.

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Film 

The Jungle Book is a live-action epic adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, inspired by Disney’s classic 1967 animated film and centered on Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat.

When it came to us making our staff picks for the top 5 films of the halfway point of 2016, I totally spaced it and forgot about The Jungle Book.  I didn’t even have it in the “Honorable Mentions” section.  My man, Shohan didn’t forget, though.  So, props to him for not sleeping on The Jungle Book.  Silly me, as this is quite a stunning cinema going experience for this year.

Sticking out right away with the film is the visual presence of it.  None of this stuff in the film is real.  And that’s crazy, because your eyes will lie and tell you it is.  It is absolutely crazy.  This is one of the best displays of CGI ever in a film.  It seriously is an animated movie.  90-95% of it is anyway.  The animals of the jungle look absolutely lifelike and totally believable with their movements and even when they are talking.  That’s not to say anything of the environments, which might be the most underrated aspect of it all.

Helping things along is that they have a classic story to source all this from that we know works.  This one just sticks to it and just tries to polish the thing while carefully carving its own niche.  Leading the charge is a relative newcomer Neel Seethi. And this kid is terrific.  A lot hinges on this boy’s performance.  If he stinks, or doesn’t make any of this the slightest bit believable, the movie could possibly fail.  Instead, he comes out looking like a champ and giving a charming performance that isn’t anything of a masterpiece, but it works big time for big blockbuster and family cinema.  Oh and that awesome collection of high class veteran performers as the animals do a pretty good job too.

The Jungle Book is not only one of the year’s best films, its also a stunning technological achievement and one of those movies that demand to be seen in a theater.  This home viewing experience is still quite good and revelatory, but I can’t help but be reminded of how kinda wow’d I was at the sheer scaled and lifelike feeling of a pretty much completely animated film.  Really, it should be considered an animated film, because its moreso one than it is the small percentage that is live action which really is only Neel Sethi.  A definite see, a new children’s/family classic and possibly career best for director Jon Favreau.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Jungle Book comes no doubt looking lovely and lively in this Blu-ray.  I’m sure the 4K UHD presentation and 3-D Blu-ray ones will be something behold as well.  The level of detail here is outstanding.  From the definition and intricacies of hair on the animals to seeing every bit of texture on tree bark and the grounds being walked on, this picture is a winner.  

Depth:  This film was made for 3-D.  There are plenty of great examples of three dimensional excellence on display with a terrific relationship on foreground and background. Movements is smooth and lifelike.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  Shading and detail on the texture and patterns of black colored creatures and objects retains its look and nothing really is hidden.  No crushing either.

Color Reproduction:  Colors comes across bold, vibrant and lovely.  There is a jungle of a palette on display and golds, greens and all sorts of colors come in all kinds of different tints and shades to round out the picture.  The coloring keeps this image fresh and your attention squared on it.

Flesh Tones:  Well, lets just talk about Mowgli then, eh?  His skin looks natural, maybe a hair warm and stays consistent throughout.  You can see every bit of dirt, sweat a facial line on him at all times really.

Noise/Artifacts: Hah, you know this is clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  This 7.1 mix on The Jungle Book hits the ground running and never quits.  It full engulfs your living space with purpose and veracity.  Sound effects are well layered, making individual unique sounds as crisp and remarkable as can be.  This is only part of a balanced mix with the vocals and score.

Low Frequency Extension:  Animals thumping around, roaring flames & tigers as well as crashing through walls and whatnot all bump bump on your sub sub.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All channels get their due here.  They come together to create an experience with the feeling of jungle setting.  Movements and placements are all accurately set up and down and all around the viewing space.  Its an experience.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clear. All the voiceovers carry over with a lovely attention to diction.

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Extras 

The Jungle Book comes with a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Jon Favreau

The Jungle Book Re-Imagined (HD, 35:02) – Director Jon Favreau sits down with producer Brigham Taylor and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato to discuss the film and reflect on the years they devoted to the reimagining of this timeless tale. They discuss Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the classic animated film influenced their unique approach.  It also takes a nice look at the film’s visual effects.  It also features interviews and discussions with and on the cast and music used in the film.  There are plenty of behind-the-scenes goodies within this, showing the performers recording their lines, blue screen shooting and scoring sessions.
I Am Mowgli (HD, 8:18)  – This is the story of the film’s lead Neel Sethi.  Jon Favreau and Neel tell the story of how he got to the audition and what Jon was looking for in the part and why Neel was it.  It features some on-set interviews, filming and reflective stuff regarding his time on the film.  Jon also brought Neel to the recording sessions to work with the voice actors and give them a relationship to build off of with their own performances since they aren’t physically in the film.
King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer (HD, 3:14) – An inside look at the recording of the King Louie musical number in the film, with clips of the orchestra mixed with the movie and Christopher Walken’s booth session for his part and some storyboards.
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Summary 

Jon Favreau’s live action take on Disney’s The Jungle Book is an instant classic and remarkable cinematic achievement.  Its a special movie, folks.  You just know it when you see it.  This Blu-ray, to no one’s surprise, looks absolutely gorgeous while sounding pretty stunning.  The extras are not overbearing in typical Disney fashion, and are rather soli0d themselves.  That’s not what you need this for, streaming isn’t giving you a presentation this great, and you’ll always want to have this movie around.  So, unless you’re waiting for the 3-D edition or a 4K one, pick this up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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