Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
List Price
$39.99
Amazon
$25.81 (35%)
3rd Party
$19.94
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
4 Stars
High-Def Extras
3.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition (Combo Pack)

Street Date:
February 11th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 13th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
1967
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
78 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

The nostalgia centers of my brain are firing again and I'm powerless to stop them. I universally love Disney movies. I watch them with kid goggles on. It's a different sort of experience, because it's not just watching a movie. Watching something like Disney's 'The Jungle Book' brings back all sorts of childhood memories. One stands out amongst the others, where I tied on a red towel – it was the only thing clothing me – and I set out through the neighborhood pretending to be Mowgli. I assume that I thought at some point I'd be accepted into a pack of wolves who'd raise me as their own, but I only made it as far as the neighbor's house before they saw me and called my parents.

It speaks to the lasting value of these movies though. Since watching it with my two year-old son just a few nights ago, I could see the same wonder in his eyes that I'm sure I had watching 'The Jungle Book' for the first time. He was mesmerized by the different animals. He laughed at the elephants, pretended to cower when Shere Khan (voiced by George Sanders) appeared, and danced around the room during King Louie's (voiced by Louis Prima) swinging solo. I'm pretty sure I did all those things too when I was his age, watching 'The Jungle Book' for the first time with a childlike glee. So now you know my qeakness. I'm predisposed to give most Disney classics great scores, because they never cease to remind me how great it was being a kid. Now that I can share that with my own son, it's that much more meaningful.

By the time 'The Jungle Book' was released by Disney in 1967, the studio had already cemented itself as a family film juggernaut. With instant classics like 'Sleeping Beauty,' ' Peter Pan,' and 'Cinderella' paving the way before, 'The Jungle Book' simply added to an already illustrious catalogue of animated children's movies. However, it was one of Disney's last huge hits before 'The Little Mermaid' ushered in the second Disney golden age in the early 90s. In fact, 'The Jungle Book' sits at number 30 on the All Time Box Office Adjusted for Inflation List. Right above it at number 29? 'The Dark Knight.' 'The Jungle Book' domestically grossed $141,843,612 (granted this total was built as the movie was released multiple times). Adjusted for inflation that ends up just north of $615 million. By any measure, that's a huge haul. I know we tend to steer away from box office records and such during reviews, but it's worth noting. 'The Jungle Book' was an instant hit when it was released and has continued through multiple decades as a tale that pleases just about everyone who watches it.

Sure Disney's view of Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli's tales has been given the familiar Disney sheen. Waxed away are any of the more ruthless parts of Kipling's material. What we're left with is a road trip movie, featuring some of Disney's most memorable characters, and most recognizable songs. The Sherman brothers out did themselves here. The songs in 'The Jungle Book' are equal parts catchy and clever. The entire movie becomes a sing-a-long before you know it.

I know I haven't talked much about the movie itself, but there's really no need to. I would suspect that the majority of people looking to purchase 'The Jungle Book' are doing so after having watched it multiple times. Only now it's different. They want to know if this movie holds up for their young ones. Will a new generation of kids love it just as much as past generations? If your experience is anything like the experience I had with my son, then yes. 'The Jungle Book' will be loved for decades to come.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Disney has given 'The Jungle Book' the Diamond Edition treatment. The release has been packaged with two discs. One 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD. There's also a cod for Disney Movie Rewards which will connect you to the Digital Copy version of the film. Of course the film also comes with a nicely embossed slipcover. It's marked as being region free.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

While Disney's presentation of 'The Jungle Book' isn't as glaringly bad as 'The Sword in the Stone' it still comes with some problems. Chief among them is the idea that scrubbing away the natural grain is what viewers want. This time, however, Disney has been a little more careful in their digital scrubbing efforts. They haven't wiped away much of the line art like in 'The Sword in the Stone.' You're still able to see sketch lines as characters move. Giving the picture a much more naturalistic feel in that respect.

Yet, there's this glossy sheen to the entire thing. Like the movie has been wiped clean instead of meticulously touched up for a high-def release. It's difficult to fault Disney for their decisions, because they're simply trying to put together a release that today's children will want to watch. Though, more ardent videophiles and Disneyphiles might look at this presentation incredulously.

The sharpness of the animation is usually great, but there are some scenes involving frantic motion that appear to blur. Colors are bright and strong, certainly the presentation's strong suit. The painted backdrops are gorgeous. I had a split feeling about this presentation. On one had it feels like Disney is simply presenting a classic movie for a generation of youngsters who are used to artificially clean animation. On the other hand, it feels like they've scrubbed away some of its character. I'm leaning on the side that this presentation is more good than bad, but that's all in the eye of the viewer really.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

As with most Diamond Editions 'The Jungle Book' gets an expansive audio upgrade as the film's now lossless sound is pumped through a 7.1 mix. The DTS-HD Master Audio mix is finely tuned to give every viewer a fantastic audio experience.

The music and lyrics are crystal clear. I remember, as a kid watching 'The Jungle Book' on VHS and thinking I have absolutely no idea what King Louie is saying during his solo. There are no such problems here. Dialogue is crisp and natural. The only drawback that I heard during the presentation was that "S" sounds seemed a little too harsh. Like a tiny bit of noise drifted up through the speakers whenever Ka spoke with his slithery serpent sounds.

The rear channels work tremendously well. King Louie's song is a great example of how the 7.1 mix really works. All sorts of ambient sound of monkeys hooting and hollering located in the side and rear speakers. The LFE, when Louie's ruins crumble or when the elephant brigade marches through the forest is deep and distinct. By and large this is a great sound soundtrack.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary – Richard Sherman, Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli), and artist Andreas Deja offer a wonderfully in-depth commentary. Also included are archived voices from director Wolfgang Reitherman among others.
  • The Bare Necessities: The Making of 'The Jungle Book' (SD, 46 min.) – A lengthy, meaningful making-of feature that covers all you'd want to know about a Disney animated feature film being brought life by its cast and crew.
  • Disney's Kipling: Walt's Magical Touch on a Literary Classic (SD, 15 min.) – A look at how Disney's 'The Jungle Book' differs from the source material authored by Kipling.
  • The Lure of 'The Jungle Book' (SD, 9 min.) – This is a great animation-centric featurette where Disney animators talk about how the animation in 'The Jungle Book' influenced Disney films for years to come.
  • Mowgli's Return to the Wild (SD, 5 min.) – A short inside look into what Bruce Reitherman is doing now. A documentarian who loves nature. Fitting.
  • Frank and Ollie (SD, 4 min.) – Disney legends Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas are profiled here. They talk about animating the movie and giving life to these memorable characters.
  • The Lost Character: Rocky the Rhino (SD, 7 min.) – Storyboards and archived audio which present a rhinoceros character voiced by Frank Fontaine, which never made it into the final cut of the movie.
  • Disneypedia (SD, 14 min.) – A look at the animals that are seen in the film.
  • Song Selection (HD, 12 min.) – More sing-a-long material.
  • Music Video (SD, 3 min.) – The Jonas Brothers perform "I Wanna Be Like You". Thanks, but no thanks.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Special Introductions (HD, 2 min.) – Diane Disney Miller and songwriter Richard Sherman give separate introductions to the film. They are brief, but nice all the same.
  • Alternate Ending (HD, 9 min.) – A storyboard ending entitled "Mowgli and the Hunter" is presented here. It was originally meant to be the ending of the film.
  • @DisneyAnimation: Sparking Creativity (HD, 9 min.) – The "Spark" program at Disney Animation is profiled here. A look into how Disney animators and staff brainstorm new ideas for the studio.
  • Music, Memories, and Mowgli (SD, 9 min.) – Richard Sherman is joined by Diane Disney Miller, and Floyd Norman as they talk about making the movie.
  • Bear-E-Oke (HD, 13 min.) – A way to pick individual songs to sing along to from the Blu-ray menu.
  • I Wanna Be Like You (HD, 18 min.) – Two kids are given backstage access to Disney's Animal Kingdom. I'm jealous.
  • Disney Intermission (HD) – Whenever pause is pressed Disney Intermission produces sing-a-long songs from the film.

Final Thoughts

One of the true Disney classics, but one that is curiously overlooked when people start remembering the best Disney movies. It seems to always be that Disney film that you need to be reminded of, but once it's in your head it stays there. It's so playful, so wonderfully inventive with its animation and songs that it'll no doubt be loved by future generations of kids. The video may be problematic at times, but for the most part it turns out fine. The audio mix is very well-rounded, providing ample oomph to the Sherman soundtrack. There's also a load of new and old special features to dig through. All things considered 'The Jungle Book' comes highly recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
  • 2-Disc Set

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.75:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • English Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Making of 'The Jungle Book'
  • 4 Featurettes
  • The Lost Rhino Character
  • Disneypedia
  • Song Selection
  • Music Video

Exclusive HD Content

  • Introductions by Diane Disney Miller and Richard M. Sherman
  • Alternate Ending: Mowgli and The Hunter
  • @DisneyAnimation: Sparking Creativity
  • Music, Memories & Mowgli: A Conversation with Richard M. Sherman, Diane Disney Miller and Floyd Norman
  • Disney Intermission: Bear-E-Oke hosted by Baloo
  • I Wanna Be Like You: Hangin' Out At Disney's Animal Kingdom

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$39.99
Amazon
$25.81 (35%)
3rd Party
$19.94
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»