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    The Emperor's New Groove: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Disney

    May 30 2013 01:48 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    With CGI animation beginning to take over the industry in 2000, Walt Disney’s animation studio stubbornly continued churning out traditional line animation features hoping for another success like The Lion King or, to a lesser extent, Tarzan. The Emperor’s New Groove tries almost too desperately to be hip and with-it, but even with its occasionally pushing too hard for effect, it’s a fine, funny animated adventure (not a musical though there are a couple of songs) filled with great sight gags and an accomplished cast of character voices to give the movie a real sense of zaniness. The also included made-for-home video sequel Kronk's New Groove is tolerable but only that.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Disney
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1, 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD, Other
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: G
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 18 Min.; 1 Hr. 15 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD
    • Case Type: keep case with slipcover
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: ABC
    • Release Date: 06/11/2013
    • MSRP: $29.99

    The Production Rating: 3.5/5

    The Emperor’s New Groove – 4/5

    Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) is a spoiled, vain Incan ruler who is only concerned with satisfying his every whim, and that includes wiping out an entire village so he can build a summer home there complete with a swimming pool and water slide. Entreaties from resident Pacha (John Goodman) fall on deaf ears, but when scheming court witch Yzma (Eartha Kitt) mistakenly turns Kuzco into a llama instead of outright killing him, she calls on her right-hand-man Kronk (Patrick Warburton) to do away with him. The brawny but rather brainless Kronk can’t bring himself to commit murder, so he tosses him on a wagon headed out of town, a wagon driven by Pacha who will only agree to take Kuzco back to his palace if he’ll agree to abandon plans to obliterate his village. Kuzco has a few tricks up his own sleeve in order to regain his former status and rank.

    Told in flashback, Kuzco’s story (script by David Reynolds from a story by director Mark Dindal and Chris Williams) is a more than adequate framework on which to hang a succession of slapstick scenes which flesh out the personalities of all the principal characters. In fact, the writing and subsequent superb animation (a sequence set at night with the characters against the backdrop of a starry sky is an astounding bit of animated magic) are as close as any Disney movie has ever gotten to the ribald sense of madcap humor, the wise-acre points of view, and the meticulously timed sight gags which can be found in the best of Looney Tunes. Eartha Kitt makes a deliciously evil witch, and Patrick Warburton makes a perfect dense-as-dust foil to her chicanery. David Spade has the sardonic egotistical ruler down pat while John Goodman is a fine everyman who’s the kind of trusting and good natured protagonist who can only be pushed so far. Tom Jones sings and swings us into and out of the film with “Perfect World” while Sting’s “My Funny Friend and Me” (which earned an Oscar nomination) is warbled during the closing credits.


    Kronk’s New Groove – 2.5/5

    With his father (John Mahoney) coming for a visit, Kronk (Patrick Warburton), now a popular fry cook at the local eatery, realizes that in order to get a longed-for thumbs up from his Papi, he’s got to make good on two promises he made to him when he left home: that he’d have a wife and kids and a beautiful home on a hill. Since he has neither, Kronk is rather desperate to get both. Former ally/now a half witch/half cat Yzma (Eartha Kitt) has a plan for him to get a house, but it will require cheating a house full of senior citizens out of their home and all of their money (which she’ll keep for herself). Kronk’s love life has been lacking until he meets the troop leader of a rival Chipmunk scout troop, Miss Birdwell (Tracey Ullman). They’re just right for each other, but their respective competitive natures will make a romance between the two very difficult.

    Told in flashback like its predecessor, this made-for-home video effort is very episodic in nature with each of Kronk’s two quests accounting for roughly half of the film’s running time. The film is noticeably lacking in the kind of free wheeling humor and zany wise guy attitude from the original movie (Emperor Kuzco interrupts the story a couple of times to make wry comments on his lack of participation in the film, and the film must stoop to desperate nods to Saturday Night Fever, Lady and the Tramp, Lord of the Rings, and Titanic allusions), and while it’s great to have the original cast back abetted with the additions of the talented John Mahoney and Tracey Ullman in their respective roles as Papi and Miss Birdwell and there are some fun tunes (Kitt’s “Feel Like a Million” and the introductory “Your Groove”), the crazy sense of anything goes just isn’t much in evidence here making for a most lackluster sequel.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The Emperor’s New Groove – 5/5

    The film is framed at 1.66:1 for this transfer and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The animation comes across beautifully in high definition with no aliasing at all in the line drawings and no banding seen in the backgrounds. Colors are wonderfully saturated but never to the point of being overdone, and black levels are rich and deep. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.


    Kronk’s New Groove – 4/5

    This made-for-home video effort is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Of course, the intricacy and depth of the animation is nowhere near the quality of the feature animation for the original film, but in color solidity and lack of aliasing, this sequel matches its predecessor in quality. There is, however, some minor banding to be seen in purple and blue backgrounds particularly in the film’s second half. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The Emperor’s New Groove – 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has an excellent spread across the front soundstage, but very little has been done with the rear channels making the mix seem more stereophonic than surround-centric (in fact, a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix is provided). The music (background score by John Debney, songs by Sting and David Hartley) comes across very nicely throughout, and dialogue has been wonderfully recorded and mostly resides in the center channel with some occasional bursts of directionalized dialogue at appropriate moments.


    Kronk’s New Groove – 4.5/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is much more enveloping than that of the original film (coming five years later, the producers take advantage of advances in surround presentation). The music extends from the fronts through the soundstage and into the rears with authority and yet the mix also retains the entertaining directionalized dialogue that the original film boasted. Dialogue has been nicely captured and is always discernible.

    Special Features: 0/5

    Fans of the film had better hang onto their Collector’s Edition DVD for The Emperor’s New Groove because none of those bonus features have either been ported over to the Blu-ray disc or linked to an internet website (as Disney did with the Fantasia Blu-ray release).

    Promo Trailers (HD): The Little Mermaid, Monsters University, Super Buddies, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Heroes United, among others.

    DVD Copies: The Emperor’s New Groove and Kronk’s New Groove have their own separate DVDs stacked on top of each other in the case.

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    It’s very disappointing that Disney chose not to port over the bountiful bonus features for The Emperor’s New Groove into this new Blu-ray release. The original film looks simply wonderful in this high definition upgrade, but the lack of any bonus material does not do justice to this worthy animated effort from the studio’s vaults.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    10 Comments

    Excellent review, Matt.  The Emperor's New Groove isn't one of my favorites, but I always enjoy watching it whenever it ends up in the player.  I never got around to seeing the direct-to-video sequel, but as a big fan of Warburton's work as Kronk, I'm sure it will be amusing for me on some level.

     

     

    Special Features Rating: 0/5

    Fans of the film had better hang onto their Collector’s Edition DVD for The Emperor’s New Groove because none of those bonus features have either been ported over to the Blu-ray disc or linked to an internet website (as Disney did with the Fantasia Blu-ray release).

     

    I wonder what they're smoking over at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

     

    First, they dip their toe in the waters with sparse discs that don't include very many features from the DVD (Dinosaur in 2006).

     

    Then, they start putting their Animated Classics on Blu-Ray, with a slew of HD-made bonus features (Sleeping Beauty in 2008).

     

    And it seemed like they were on the right track, with some truly stellar sets that included nearly every scrap of bonus material from every release (Alice in Wonderland in 2011), occasionally replacing an older piece with a new/enhanced feature (Beauty and the Beast in 2010).

     

    But then something went wrong.  The introduction of "two-movie collection" releases meant extras were relegated either to the accompanying DVDs (The Fox and the Hound in 2011) or the Virtual Vault (Pocahontas in 2012).  But sometimes they got it right and ported over all the video pieces to Blu-Ray, while the DVD was still the original pressing, meaning the galleries were preserved (Treasure Planet in 2012).

     

    And unfortunately, few, if any, new extras are made.  They don't even take the opportunity to include Laserdisc extras that didn't make the jump to DVD (The Hunchback of Notre Dame this year).  

     

    And now they don't bother including extras at all.  Especially when this title could have given Disney a chance to finally release The Sweatbox.

     

    Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment couldn't be more frustrating if they tried, and it's obvious they're not...

    I wonder what they're smoking over at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

     

    So do I. I remember liking The Emperor's New Groove well enough on release that I would have bought the Blu-ray, even forgiving the fact that it has to share the disc with a DTV sequel that I have no interest in seeing, But the fact that at the very least, the DVD extras have no been ported, is mystifying and inexcusable.

    Okay, this is just idiotic.  Disney put out a handful of excellent two-disc editions back in the day (Emperor, Dinosaur, Atlantis, Tarzan) which quickly went OOP.  And now they can't be bothered to include those extras on the BD in any form?  Is there something from the old docs or commentary that was scandalous I've missed?  Or is this a "rush job"?

     

    Boo and hiss.

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    Mark Walker
    May 31 2013 05:38 AM

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooo!

     

    I cannot believe they did not port over the extras!  Well, I gave away my DVD set a few months ago in anticipation of this Blu-ray release..  I won't ask for it back, so now I am off to re-buy it at scalper's prices.

    Photo
    Charles Smith
    May 31 2013 06:35 AM

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooo!

     

    I cannot believe they did not port over the extras!  Well, I gave away my DVD set a few months ago in anticipation of this Blu-ray release..  I won't ask for it back, so now I am off to re-buy it at scalper's prices.

     

    "I feel your pain."

     

    Been there and done it.

     

    My recently instituted rule #1 is:   Never let go of ANYTHING till the replacement is in hand...AND I know I can live with it, and it alone.

      • Mark Walker likes this

    "I feel your pain."

     

    Been there and done it.

     

    My recently instituted rule #1 is:   Never let go of ANYTHING till the replacement is in hand...AND I know I can live with it, and it alone.

     

    Same here. I took out the enclosed DVDs in this new set and gave them away and put the DVDs from the Collector's Edition in their place in the Blu-ray pack.

      • Mark Walker likes this
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    Mark Walker
    May 31 2013 11:01 AM

    Well, I will be holding on to Tarzan's SE 2 DVD set.

     

    Aside from some bonus content on Fantasia, this seems like a first for BVHE (that I have noticed) where content did not make it over to the Blu-ray.

     

    Personally, a lot of bonus content I do not remember, but any brief making of documentaries and commentary tracks are things I always go back and revisit time and time again, particularly for Disney's animated features.

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    Adam Gregorich
    Jun 02 2013 06:19 PM

    Thanks for the heads up about the special features.  I guess I'll upgrade for the PQ but be keeping my DVD.

    I always intended to keep the 2 disc versions of Dinosaur, Emperor, Atlantis and Tarzan.  These things were a PITA to find when they were first released.  And now it looks like there's a good reason to keep them (right alongside the 2 disc editions of United 93, Munich, War of the Worlds and others).  It just feels like a real missed opportunity here.

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    Ken_McAlinden
    Jun 11 2013 04:25 PM

    The included SD DVD is the same one that was authored for the 2005 re-release of the film (either by itself or as disc one of a two disc edition).  Extras, as previously detailed in David Boulet's HTF review of the disc are as follow:

    • Commentary:Your usual Disney animated classic commentary with the creative team which is to say that this is very good. Lots of facts worth paying attention to here for any fans of the film…put it on while you do the dishes and listen in the background (you don’t really need to “watch” the movie to enjoy the commentary).
    • Deleted Scenes: One is an alternate ending. Both are presented in story-board form and have introductions by the creative artists. Very nicely done.
    • Sting’s Making The Music Video While I love Sting and treasure his involvement in a project like this, I have to say that my world went unchanged by hearing the title theme he performs during the credits, though anyone with a crush on him will enjoy watching him look very sexy throughout this feature.
    • Behind the Scenes:A few [three] short documentaries on some making-of material, the most impressive of which is the featuring of all the voice talent; it’s really cool to see these actors in the flesh (well, moving digital pictures of them in the flesh) and to see how the artists were inspired to model the look of the animated characters around their own look and style.

     

    Additionally, the case includes two spindles that can accommodate two discs each. This means there is room for one additional disc. If you have the second bonus disc from the earlier special edition, you can add it to the case making it almost the special edition for which you were hoping.