Shere Khan: Surely you do realize, I simply can’t let you live.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Jungle Book 2 was one of the three Disney sequels to actually get released in theatres along with Peter Pan: Return to Neverland and The Rescuers Down Under. Unfortunately, Jungle Book 2 proves to be the worst of the bunch. While the original didn’t follow the source material all that much nor did it have much depth, it still had a vast array of enjoyable characters. This movie however, expands on little to none of that.
The story is that Mowgli is still living in the man-village with his adoptive parents, his new brother Ranjan, and his best friend named Shanti. However, Mowgli still has the heart of the jungle in him. After an argument with his adoptive father, Mowgli decides to flee to the jungle where he finds Baloo. Shanti and Ranjan, concerned for his disappearance set out into the jungle to find him. Little do they all know that the villainous Shere Khan is after Mowgli, as he wants revenge for being humiliated at Mowgli’s hands.
The opening of the movie shows a little bit of the life and characters in the man-village. However it could have been developed a lot more as it feels a tad too happy and then out of nowhere goes into serious territory when Mowgli gets in trouble with his adoptive father as the latter shows a scar he received from going into the jungle. The climax also was creative in the ruins of an ancient temple. The way the characters fight Shere Khan as well as the backgrounds and colors were very creative. Outside of this, the story is pretty much rehashing the same jokes with the characters such as Kaa, the elephants, the vultures, etc.
The animation looks nice and they took advantage of the time they had for it being a theatrical release. The human characters in particular are given some great expressions, the backgrounds do capture the feel of the jungle, and the designs on the animals look a lot more finished than it did in the first movie.
The new voice actors they got to voice these old characters were well done and do well in capturing the spirit of the original characters such as Haley Joel Osment as Mowgli and John Goodman. Tony Jay as Shere Khan is easily the best as he captures both the sophistication and ferocity that George Sanders brought to the character all these years ago. However with the plot pretty much rehashing the same jokes as the first movie, none of the returning characters are given much of a plot to work with. The new characters on the other hand don’t bring much life into the movie either. Ranjan for instance is just the eager kid going in way over his head and Shanti is just the concerned friend. Even the playful friendship between Mowgli and Shanti isn’t explored.
Outside of one song in the Man-Village, which is pretty catchy, the only other memorable song is Bear Necessities, which is sung multiple times throughout the movie. And it gets old really fast.
Jungle Book 2 has some good animation, some good voice actors, and a nice opening and climax but most of these efforts are hampered by subpar writing and characters that really make it questionable why the film got a theatrical release in the first place. With much more time and money thrown at the movie, it’s quite upsetting this had so little within it. If it were straight-to-video it would have gotten less recognition.