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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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Disney's "The Jungle Book 2" was released on Blu-ray for the first time this spring.
Disney's "The Jungle Book 2" was released on Blu-ray for the first time this spring.

"Jungle Book 2" a great Blu-ray companion to the original

Sequels and film updates are always tricky. One wonders if the magic that was created in the first film will only build in the next installment, or if it will simply fade and not be the same in the second.

But when enough time passes, it is doubtful that the current generation is even familiar with the original. When Disney released "The Jungle Book 2" in 2003, it was far removed from the original that hit theaters in 1967.

I wouldn’t say that the magic fades, nor does it build. It simply is a nice companion to the original film, building on the relationships of the characters in and out of the jungle.

Last month, Disney released "The Jungle Book 2" on Blu-ray, and I had the opportunity to screen it with new musical numbers and tip of the hat to the older, original tunes.

As this film stands well enough on its own, it does make for a perfect companion to "The Jungle Book" that was released on Blu-ray as well earlier this year.

Parts of the two stories are still the same. Shere Kahan the tiger is still looming in the woods, and Mowgli has a swinging good time with Baloo the bear.

What is different is that Mowgli just wants to return to the good times of the past, but he forgets the dangers that still remain outside of the village.

The relationships between the characters have a lot of heart, and I believe it was Walt Disney’s take on the first film that brought that trait to what was a darker tale written by Rudyard Kipling.

"The Jungle Book 2" continues the light-hearted story and builds on the strength of those relationships to entertain children and adults alike.

"The Jungle Book" is known for Disney’s first time taking well-known actors and putting them in animated roles. Phil Harris, known for his full voice and famous laugh while working with radio and TV great Jack Benny, won audiences over as the care-free Baloo. In this second film John Goodman provides the bear’s voice and laugh, who acts as a big brother to the man-cub.

A young Haley Joel Osment proved how versatile he was even back in 2003, portraying Mowgli with both the character and singing voice. The actor, better known for his work in "Sixth Sense" and "Pay It Forward," started a long-term partnership with Disney in this film. Video gamers will recognize Osment’s voice as the main character in the game series Kingdom Hearts. 

Blu-ray extras include some behind-the-scenes interviews with the voice actors and animators, and it was fun being presented with the story boards for a couple of scenes that were left on the cutting room floor.

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