Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)

Disney's recent sequels to its golden-age classics may make sound business sense, but they have yet to produce a film worthy of the original.

One could ignore the likes of "Cinderella II", "101 Dalmatians II" et al as long as they went straight-to-video. But giving a cinema release to "Return to Neverland" only pointed up how far "Peter Pan" soared above it, and the same deficiencies are no less evident here.

"The Jungle Book" was the last animated feature to be overseen by Walt Disney himself, so it takes an act of mighty hubris to emulate it. Perhaps that's why director Steve Trenbirth has simply remade it - right down to having Baloo the Bear sing "The Bare Necessities" not once, but three times.

The anorexic script opens shortly after the first movie ended, with "man-cub" Mowgli - voiced by Haley Joel Osment - tiring of village life and hankering for his ursine chum Baloo.

The friends are soon reunited, but Mowgli hasn't reckoned on Shere Khan the tiger, who is eager to avenge himself on the pesky human.

Bagheera the panther, Kaa the snake, Colonel Hathi the elephant... Trenbirth wastes no time reassembling the regulars. To his credit, screenwriter Karl Geurs throws some new characters into the mix, notably a buzzard (bizarrely voiced by Phil Collins).

But none of this compensates for the fact that there's no reason for this story to be told - besides, of course, parting gullible punters from a few quid.

End Credits

Director: Steve Trenbirth

Writer: Karl Geurs

Stars: John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Phil Collins, Tony Jay, Mae Whitman

Genre: Animation, Family

Length: 72 minutes

Cinema: 11 April 2003

Country: USA

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