DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Emperor's New Groove (New 1-disc edition)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Oct 17, 2005.

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  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

    The Emperor’s New Groove

    Studio:Disney Year:2000 RunTime:78 minutes Rating:G Aspect Ratio:16x9 encoded 1.66:1 (@ OAR) Audio:5.1 DTS English, 5.1 DD English, DD French SpecialFeatures:Deleted Scenes, Commentary, Music Video, making-of documentary, more… ReleaseDate:October 18, 2005



    Again???

    Yes people. If memory serves me correctly this is the third time we’ve had the honor to purchase The Emperor’s New Groove on DVD. Personally, having seen the improvement with the new 10th Anniversary Toy Story Edition, I was secretly hoping that this new Groove Edition would improve upon the picture quality of the previous two DVDs which had a touch of edge-ringing and an image that lacked dynamic "snap". I’ll save you the agony right now and tell you that to my eyes the image from this disc is identical to that of the 2-disc SE set and the sound (both DTS and DD) identical as well. All the bonus features I can find on this new edition seem to be ported over from the 2-disc set so if you already have that set, just keep it. If you haven’t purchased The Emperor’s New Groove before and don’t want to shell out for the 2-disc set you can save yourself a few dollars and buy this new edition which gives you DTS and a few nice extras (but if you’re a bonus feature nut you’ll want to spend the few bucks more and go with the 2-disc SE). Did I ruin it for you? Read on if you care to know more…



    The Movie...


    The Emperor’s New Groove is one of Disney’s more intelligent, unconventional animated comedies and, while kid-friendly, is geared more towards late-teen and adult audiences than towards children. Think Shrek, Ice Age, that sort of thing. The Emperor’s New Groove bravely avoids following the pattern of a “Disney Musical”; The only real musical numbers that enter the picture open and close the feature film and are carefully staged as performances in the movie…so while stylized and perhaps bending the rules just a bit, the film doesn’t betray its mission to stay free of the Disney animated musical genre. This decision serves the film well, and lends is a more mature personality (and this coming from a guy who loves musicals).

    The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the very few animated comedies that managed to provoke my sense of humor to the point of explosive laughter. I really enjoy this movie. When folks come over and want to watch a sure-fire comedy, when the stack of DVDs comes out boasting titles like What’s Up Doc, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Princess Bride and others, The Emperor’s New Groove is always included. If you like South Park, The Simpsons, or any other adult-oriented animated satires, I URGE you to give The Emperor’s New Groove a try if you haven’t seen it already.




    Picture...


    Picture appears to my eyes to be identical to the 2-disc SE edition (I’m betting it’s the same VOB file) which is to say that the image is “good” but for some reason just feels a little bit lacking when viewed wide-angle. For one, there’s a slight bit of edge-ringing from time to time. And while it’s less noticeable than what’s on Mulan, it shows up just enough that wide-angle viewers will be reminded of its presence just as they start to forget. There’s also a slight image softness that gives the appearance of some minor HF filtering and the image lacks “snap”. What’s strange is that it’s really hard to objectify what these issues might be because it’s more of a subjective impression than something you can easily point out…but after having seen the vivid, high-resolution images from many other animated DVDs there’s just something the slightest bit lacking to my eyes.

    On the good side, compression seems satisfying and on my system I didn’t notice any distracting color banding. And while the image doesn’t appear as dynamic as my instincts tell me it ought to be, colors are reasonably vivid and black level is solid and relatively noise-free. Not a bad image at all…but next to the reference animated titles coming our way lately, it just falls a tad short.


    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.






    Sound...


    Sound is outstanding. Both the DTS and DD 5.1 soundracks are wonderfully presented. The DTS sounds a tad smoother, just a tad sweeter, but both soundtracks could easily satisfy the audiophile listener on their own. Bass is strong, frequency response is wide, and the general character of the 5.1 mix is assertive (as opposed to passive or aggressive). Surround use is appropriate and more developed than most 5.1 tracks (though not taken to the level of modern action animated titles like Incredibles) and dialogue is recorded extremely well. I find no fault with the audio.

    Sound Quality: 5 / 5

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    Special Features...




    All of the bonus features appear to be carried over from the 2-disc set. I’ll try to briefly describe them here for those of you not familiar with what’s come before:


    [*]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 VideoWhile 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 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.

    [/list]

    All Together...


    It’s one of Disney’s smartest comedies—a truly adult-oriented comedy that’s family friendly. Downside to this (third) DVD edition is “good but not great” video quality (identical to the 2-disc SE) and recycled bonus features (also from that 2-disc set). Pluses include a great DTS soundtrack (also from the 2-disc SE) and a cheaper 1-disc price. If you’ve already got The Groove, wait for the 1080P Blu-ray version. If you’ve held off buying this title in the past, here’s your chance to get a nice discount on a single-disc version that offers good picture and great sound to get you through; everyone’s collection should have this title—it’s just a question of which of the three DVD editions to own…



    RECOMMENDED for first-time purchase
     
  2. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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    DaViD,

    Thanks for the review. You answered my main question about this release, namely is it worth upgrading from the 2-Disc Ultimate edition? Looks like that answer is a big no, and frankly I'm happy because there's already way too much product coming out this quarter. [​IMG]

    Will you be reviewing the new Tarzan 1- (or is it 2) disc?
     
  3. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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  4. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    So both of these new releases are just one disc?? Why did I think they were both getting new 2-disc SEs???
     
  5. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I think they were originally announced as 2-discers and then it quietly dropped to 1. Yep...both are 1-disc releases.
     
  6. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    I already own the 2-discer so I won't be buying anything new either. I was pretty sure this would be identical, transfer-wise anyway.

    I would like to second the David' recommendation of the movie, though. I loved this movie so much, I brought my dad (now 55) to see it with me in the theater, and he thought it was the funniest movie he had seen in a long, long time. The director (Mark Dindal) is also directing the new Chicken Little. He seems to have a knack for the Warner Brothers/Jay Ward style of cartoon humor, and if Chicken Little has the same sense of humor to it, it should be a great little film too.
     
  7. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Thanks for confirming what I thought about this release, David: shameless way of getting more money into Disney with nothing of substance new. I'm keeping the 2 discer.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    so this is not much more then a promo for the new movie starring kronk.
     
  9. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    You said it. I was willing to upgrade since this one is really really funny. Too bad for Disney that they didn't bother with improving the transfer and lost some sales.
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I'm no so sure they were looking to snag updrading dollars with this one. I think that they *saved* a boatload using the same transfer...maybe even the same compressed VOB file...with just new packaging and recycled extras. I think that this release was probably meant to attract folks who hadn't yet purchased as the new sequal gets close to release.

    Regarding the sequal...I'm *hopeful* that it will be worth watching/purchasing. The Stitch 2 certainly was!
     
  11. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    This is according to ultimate disney



    Apparently it's not a direct copy of the original. Unless it's a direct copy of the original one-disc edition.

    I always assumed when they put out a 2 Disc and a 1 disc at the same time that it was basically the same disc 1 exactly, with a second disc thrown in on the "Ultimate" editions.
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Thanks so much for the information. Would you know if the bit-rate quoted was for the 2-disc set with DTS or the previous single-disc release? I had heard a rumor that the single disc version actually had better PQ bcs of the higher bit-rate (versus the 2-disc SE).

    In any even, my eyesight can't detect any difference between the previous 2-disc SE and this. However, I will take issue with that previous quote's assessment that the (previous) transfer was beyong reproach...the mild ringing and slightly softened quality weren't as bad as Mulan, but it wasn't that stellar "reference" quality we've experienced on choice titles either. Of course, when that review was written, compared to what had been made available, it may very well have seemed reference (or been viewed on a smaller screen which would have produced a sharper looking image and hidden the halos).
     
  13. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    I am assuming they meant the 2-Disc release (which was called The Ultimate Groove)
     

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