THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 (G, 72 minutes)
There's no reason why kids of kindergarten age and older shouldn't enjoy Disney's more than workmanlike sequel to its 1967 classic "The Jungle Book," based on characters from Rudyard Kipling's stories. The colors are vivid and the film seems artfully hand-drawn (though enhanced with computer effects). The new toon's plot is not as inspired, but the old characters are all there, voiced by actors who catch the sound of the originals nearly dead-on. The old songs are reprised to delightful effect, though the new ones are forgettable. Parents of tots should know that the yellow-eyed tiger villain, Shere Khan (voiced by Tony Jay), is quite scary as he stalks the boy Mowgli (Haley Joel Osment). So is the snake Kaa (Jim Cummings). An elephant stampede could also make tots cringe. And Mowgli's separation from his human family could upset some youngsters.
In this sequel, Mowgli settles down with a human family in a village on the edge of the jungle. But he's still drawn to the wild, where his buddy Baloo the bear (John Goodman) sings "The Bare Necessities" alone and pines for his pal. When Mowgli starts to take the village kids into the jungle, his adoptive father (John Rhys-Davies) grounds him. Baloo takes the unhappy Mowgli back to the jungle. Mowgli's friend Shanti (Mae Whitman), thinking he was kidnapped, goes after him, and the village goes looking for them both. They face the terrible tiger, and Mowgli learns the value of a human family.
DAREDEVIL (PG-13, 103 minutes)
Intermittently exhilarating but too often flatfooted and derivative, "Daredevil" comes off as a sort of "Spider-Man"-light. Also based on a Marvel Comics superhero and rated PG-13, as was last year's hit, this movie can't seem to shake off the sense that it's a hybrid -- a little "Spider-Man," a little "Darkman" (R, 1990), a dash of "Superman" (PG, 1978 and all three PG sequels). Still, teenagers will likely enjoy its flashy, building-hopping martial arts acrobatics, its attractive, eccentric cast and the bracing way it contrasts the gloomy nights with harsh daylight. "Daredevil" is an iffy choice for preteens and some middle schoolers because its violence approaches R territory. The film contains rare profanity and a muted sexual situation with implied nudity.
Ben Affleck plays blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who tries to put bad guys in jail by day and wreaks vigilante justice by night. That's when he suits up as the masked, leather-clad Daredevil. The first third of the film explains how young Matt (Scott Terra) was blinded in a chemical spill and how his other senses became so acute that he is able to traverse Manhattan as if by radar, hopping off buildings and moving with lightning speed. We learn how his dad (David Keith), a prizefighter, was murdered and how he vowed to get revenge. He meets his match in the martial arts expert Elektra (Jennifer Garner). They face a psychopathic hit man (Colin Farrell), who kills one guy with a paper clip just for fun.