DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Kronk's New Groove -- Kid Recommended

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
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    Kronk’s New Groove
    Studio:Buena Vista Year:2005 RunTime:75 Rating:G Aspect Ratio:16x9 encoded 1.78:1 Audio:5.1 DD & DTS English (DD French/Spanish) SpecialFeatures:Backstage Disney featurette ReleaseDate:December 13, 2005


    Kronk’s New Groove is the direct-to-video sequel to the sassy and masterful Emperor’s New Groove which, if you remember my recent review of the recent DVD edition, is one of my all-time favorite comedies.


    When I heard that a follow-up sequel was on the way, I experienced that strange combination of hopeful anticipation coupled with skeptical fear: Would it be as entertaining as the first film? Could it possibly meet that same level of craft and creativity given its direct-to-video conduit? Should I even open myself up to the possibility of disappointment? I’d just had that breakthrough in therapy—was I ready for taking on such a significant emotional risk? Maybe I should just assume the worst and then whatever it ends up being will be bound to be better than I had anticipated.

    So I’ve seen it. So what’s the verdict?!?!

    The answer is that it’s a definitely not the level of the first theatrical film. Sorry. Watching it I just can't seem to shake that "Saturday morning cartoon" feeling. But it still manages to entertain and it has its share of creative moments as long as you can manage to not take it too seriously (or keep mentally trying to compare it to the first movie). It looks to me that this direct-to-video sequel has been designed “for kids”. Taking that as a given, it actually succeeds better at an adult level of entertainment than other similar “for kids” direct-to-DVD features. However, if you go in hoping for “another movie like the Emperor’s New Groove” you’ll find it faulted from the opening scene and it will take you a while to adjust your expectations, so be warned.

    Unlike the first film which seamlessly blended witty banter in a tapestry of woven perfection, Kronk’s New Groove seems to wander a bit and then stumbles into witty dialogue from time to time (just often enough to keep me watching). Despite the less refined fit & finish, Kronk does entertain nicely along the same irreverent lines as the first film, though it does recycle a few of the best gags.

    The story centers around Kronk (actually my favorite character from the first film) and teaches one of those “be true to yourself” lessons that falls just two degrees shy of a “hey dad, I’m gay” coming-out-of-the-closet cartoon for kids. I actually started to wonder “did they really *do* this in a cartoon for kids???”, but right before middle-america moms would have had to reach for the phones to call Disney in moral protest, Kronk manages to find a girl friend and Kronk’s idiosyncrasies are clarified to be a sensitivity to squirrels and a desire to become a expert pastry chef.

    It’s cute. Set your expectations appropriately. Kids will definitely love it.


    I’m glad to see Disney is moving away from their fascination with 1.66:1 windowboxing and instead animating titles natively in 1.78:1 to utilize the full 16x9 aspect ratio. Kronk looks very good overall. Color is clear and clean. Grayscale is fine, black level solid. Compression seems generally well handled. My only complaints were that some of the dark blue monochromatic areas seemed a tad noisy at times (not distractingly so…just trying to be picky for the review’s sake) and, sigh, there was the *cough* usual low-level edge-ringing and slight image softness. The ringing wasn’t as bad as what I saw on Lilo and Stitch 2, but it did stand out at times and on a wide-angle viewing system from about a 1.6 screen-width distance I found it bothersome.

    Picture Quality: 4 / 5

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    Rating Rationale...

    In the past I think I've been too ambiguous with my scoring or at least haven't applied it consistently from title to title, so I've endeavored to define my rating system more clearly to help make the scoring more meaningful (for all titles reviewed December 2004 and later):

    Rating Key:

    SCORE Description 1-2 An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch. Think "Outland" (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl)-- truly horrid. 2-3 Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Cold Mountain. 3-4 Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos. 4-5 A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW". Think The Empire Strikes Back or the Fifth Element Superbit (full “5” would be sans EE) or the new Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition.

    Viewing Equipment:
    Currently running DVDs on my OPPO DVD player (Faroudja deinterlacing) which scales to 720P, feeding my BenQ 8700+ PJ via DVI, projecting onto a 106” 16x9 Dalite HiPower screen, viewed from approximately 1.6 screen-widths distance. Well mastered DVDs produce a stunningly film-like image in this scenario, and lesser-mastered material quickly shows its flaws.


    Is it just me who wonders why all these direct-to-video kids cartoons get DTS but not the feature films like Aladdin or Lion King? Well, count your blessings where you may I suppose, and the audio…both DD and DTS…is exemplary on this disc. Dynamics are powerful, the 5.1 mix provides a great use of surrounds to complete a 360 degree sound field and frequency response is broad and smooth. The DTS just takes everything a step further, it refines the musical and low-level acoustic cues and decays just that last bit and tends to deepen the soundstage and move the orchestra back behind the speakers. It also helps make the speakers “disappear” as the sound seems to move around the room seamlessly without adhering to any point-source speaker locations. The Dolby Digital is still an outstanding presentation, but it lacks this last level of audiophile refinement.

    Sound Quality: 4.5 / 5

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    Special Features...

    The Backstage Disney featurette “How To Cook A Movie” is actually one of the most entertaining moments on the disc. Patrick Warburton (the voice of Kronk) is visited by the two writer/director’s who go into the basic process of “cooking up a movie”. While targeted for kids, this feature packs plenty of grown-up laughs and is a real hoot. Watch it.

    All Together...

    It’s not up to the level of the first theatrically-released “Emperor’s New Groove” and this new direct-to-dvd sequel definitely feels more ardently targeted to kids. However, if you can adjust your expectations accordingly, Kronk’s New Groove still has some fun times in store as stands out as a better-than-average direct-to-video flick even if it doesn’t quite fill the shoes of its predecessor. Points must be given for the use of all of the original voice-talent. Special features are slim, but aside from a touch of low-level EE, the image quality is very good and the 5.1 DD/DTS mix is outstanding. Extras are slim, but the featurette is a comedy unto itself and is not to be missed.

    If you’ve got kids who need a steady diet of new cartoon flicks to watch on those long road trips then plunk down the cash--you’ve got nothing to fear. If you’re an adult who’s wondering if this new sequel will entertain you like The Emperor’s New Groove comedy you’ve come to know and love, I’d venture to say it may be worth the watching if you can set your expectations a notch or two lower before loading it into your DVD player.


    RECOMMENDED for members with kids
  2. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

    Aug 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Paul Hillenbrand
    Thanks for the review David and helping me make my choice.

    The "Emperor's New Groove" was a gem and a rare "refreshing" favorite one of mine.
    Haven't seen one from Disney like this in quite a while. (Talking about cartoons, not CGI movies.)

    Hoped for more of the same, but now I think I'll save the money for better things.


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