The unlucky few who missed Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book remake when it came out on theatres will now be able to rectify said mistake. Disney has just released the classic retelling on DVD & Blu-Ray, and it should be a great addition to any home video collection – especially those that lean more towards fresh yet respectful retellings of classics, as opposed to the needlessly convoluted and grimdark revivals that have become trendy these past few years.
The Jungle Book does not try to complicate the source material nor weigh it down with unnecessary pathos, choosing to highlight the story’s adventurous spirit and making good use of the impressive voice cast, which includes the likes of Ben Kingsley and Idris Elba. The film uses CG animation techniques that seamlessly shift between photorealism and sleek hyperrealism, in order to produce crisp visuals that tread the line between fantasy and reality.
As for the Blu-Ray itself, the film is faithfully represented with a flawless A/V transfer, completely devoid of digital artifacting and a color balance that allows even the non-purists to make out different shades of green in every scenes that feature jungle foliage. If one has the proper A/V setup, viewers will be treated to intricate details such as animal fur and flames that – for lack of a better word – “jump out” at the screen every time they flicker. The 7.1 audio mix is equally impressive, providing enough ambient jungle noise and booming lows that add tension, without muddling up the dialogue on the front channel.
Of course, no home video release will be worth its price without any extra content. Aside from the requisite commentary tracks, Disney’s the Jungle Book also contains two short featurettes: the casting of Neel Sethi and a look at the animation of the King Louie sequence. For something meatier, the home video also contains a half hour behind the scenes look at the film, including interviews with Jon Favreau and the crewmembers.
All in all, Disney’s the Jungle Book Blu-Ray and DVD release should be part of your home video collection if you want a beautiful, modern take on Rudyard Kipling’s adventure classic in a format that will last you for a long, long time.