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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
The Emperor's New Groove - Collector's Edition (2 discs)
(2000) | Approx. 78 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value
The Emperor's New Groove - Standard Edition
(2000) | Approx. 78 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value

The Movie...

Talk about your tumultuous movie development cycle: This movie started as a fairly serious dramatic animated feature called Kingdom of the Sun, which was supposed to be like Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper but set in South America during the Incan empire. However, due to a series of story difficulties and production team rearrangements, the story was massively retooled into a very funny, all-out comedy in the same lush setting.

Emperor's New Groove advertising art  Disney
Emperor's New Groove advertising art Disney

Unlike The Prince and the Pauper plot, The Emporer’s New Groove solely focuses on a spoiled, arrogant Emperor named Kuzco (voiced by David Spade of TV's "Just Shoot Me") and his internal journey to a kinder and more understanding ruler. Kuzco’s problems start when he crosses his underhanded advisor, Yzma (voiced by Ertha Kitt of TV's "Batman") and her sidekick Kronk (voiced by Patrick Warburton of TV's "Seinfeld"). The two decide to rid the kingdom of the Emperor and rule the kingdom themselves. Through a slight mishap, they turn Kuzco into a llama rather than kill him, and Kuzco ends up having to strike up an uneasy alliance with a peasant named Pacha (voiced by John Goodman of TV’s "Rosanne"). Along the road back to the Palace, Kuzco discovers, through Pacha’s example, that there is more to life than his old, selfish ways. For Kuzco, it takes being turned into a llama to understand and appreciate how to be a good human.

It’s a lean, offbeat and just plain fun film for the whole family that doesn’t pretend or try to be anything other than that.

The Goodies...

I expect a lot of goodies on a Collector’s set, but after looking at both of these editions, I was quite impressed with the selection of special features on the Standard Edition. Actually, the Standard Edition disc is virtually identical to Disc 1 (the movie disc) of the Collector’s Edition with the exception of a few extra featurettes on the Standard Edition. The extra featurettes are actually part of Disc 2 of the Collector’s Edition, but it was neat to see them included on the Standard Edition.

Emperor's New Groove advertising art  Disney
Emperor's New Groove advertising art Disney

In order to cover the variety of features that these discs offer, I’ll first mention the goodies that both editions have in common, and then I’ll focus on the unique features that they contain.

Common Goodies

There are several features that have become "routine" on Disney DVDs, and they include a trivia-based set-top game, a music video, and theatrical trailers. There is also a set of DVD-ROM content for those of you with the appropriate computer hardware, and Disney Interactive has included demonstration versions of a couple of their PC titles.

Finally, the full-length audio commentary by director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer is a treat. The duo discuss a wide variety of interesting tidbits with a lot of humor and lightheartedness, and at several points during the movie, they bring in a number of other crewmembers to discuss details about particular scenes. When I saw the rather long list of commentators, I was worried that it was going to be a free-for-all, but it turned out to be nicely edited and quite enjoyable to listen to. I especially enjoyed the very humorous banter between Dindal and Fullmer during the credits; the movie is clearly a reflection of their sense of humor and playfulness.

Emperor's New Groove advertising art  Disney
Emperor's New Groove advertising art Disney

Standard Edition

In the past, if you bought a Standard Edition DVD, you were mostly left out of the behind- the- scenes bonus material. With this release, Disney has included a few key featurettes and a deleted scene to help viewers get a taste for what it took to put together this film. There are three shorts that can be viewed individually or all together, and they cover character voices, the animation team research trip, and computer- generated images. They add just the right amount of background info for folks that aren’t huge animation fans but want a taste of the animation process.

The deleted scene of the "Practice Destruction of Pacha’s Village" is also a great little treat. This scene was almost completed (except for a few seconds of animation) before it was cut from the film. It’s something you don’t see very often because most scenes are cut well before they reach the ink & paint stage of animation. This one got by and was removed, but now we, the DVD viewers, get to see it!

If those sound interesting but you want more, then maybe you should check out the Collector’s Edition, which gives you all of these features and a many more!

Collector’s Edition - Added 5/4/01 - KK

Note: I had no problems playing either of the Collector's Edition discs or the Standard Edition on my fairly old DVD player (a Pioneer DV-525). However, I recently received a couple of emails and read in a couple of forum threads that there appears to be an audio problem with at least the Collector's Edition on Toshiba DVD players. No other players seem to be affected, but I'll keep my eye on the situation.

If you think the goodies on the Standard Edition sounded "groovy," then you'll love the Collector's Edition (CE). Disc 2 opens with a humorous introduction by Mark Dindal and Randy Fullmer, a la John Lasseter on Pixar's CEs. They give you a brief overview of the material on the disc, and in the course of the intro, you get a quick tour of the inside of a bit of the Disney Feature Animation building in Burbank, California. The whole intro is a bit silly, but it works well with the subject matter and sets a fun atmosphere for the rest of the material on the disc.

Unlike other Disney CE DVDs, this one has a couple of different ways in which you can explore the material. The first is to experience two different "Grooves." You can think of a groove as a single featurette made up of several individual, shorter featurettes scattered across the disc. The "Studio Groove" takes you through each department of Disney's animation studio to meet the artists and see what work they did on the movie. It includes six shorts totaling about 25 minutes. The "Animation Groove" shows you a split screen comparison of Kuzco's dining scene through each of the stages of animation, and it contains eight very short clips covering a little over five minutes.

Dindal and Fullmer act as your guides through both grooves, and when put together, the grooves provide a great capsule of the development process of not only The Emperor's New Groove but also any current Disney animated feature. The one slight downside of the way the grooves are put together is that when I explored the individual content areas, I found that I had already seen most of the introductions and video clips. It's not a big deal, especially since there is still a lot of material to view that doesn't appear in the grooves.

The other way to explore the bonus material, as I inferred above, is to work your way through each of the animation development steps yourself. The main areas you can visit are "Development," "Story and Editorial," "Layouts and Backgrounds," "Animation," "Putting It All Together," "Music and Sound," and "Publicity." Each area has several submenus that contain more detailed information on that topic. For example, the "Animation" topic has info on the animation process, character animation, character voices, character designs, clean up animation, character model sheets, computer-generated props, and an animation progression demonstration! Also, the "Visual Development Gallery" alone has almost 300 stills of concept art! It is an amazing array of material, and it all contributes to one's appreciation of the massive efforts the artists put into a feature like this.

Of all the supplemental material, my favorites include the "Animation Groove," the three deleted scenes, and the character animation section. Overall, it's an enjoyable and comprehensive collection, and I particularly liked the informal introduction and explanations from Dindal and Fullmer. My one disappointment about the supplements is that the amount of material from the early Kingdom of the Sun concept is almost nonexistent. There are a few concept drawings, but Disney omitted all of Sting's songs written for it and all of the early storyboards. I had hoped that they would have included more, but for one reason or another, it's not on the disc.

One final piece of bonus material that I'll mention has nothing to do with The Emperor's New Groove but rather Disney's next animated theatrical release, Atlantis. Shrink- wrapped onto the back of the Collector's Edition box is a copy of Disney Interactive's Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Search for the Journal CD-ROM game. The game is a 3D animated PC (Microsoft Windows 95 / 98 / Me only) game that is supposed to allow you to preview and explore the world in which Atlantis will take place. Unfortunately, my PC, an older laptop, does not meet the requirements for game installation. You will need to make sure you have at least a Pentium II (266 MHz), 64 MB RAM, 300 MB hard disk space, a 16-bit sound card, and an 8 MB video card with 3D acceleration. It sounds interesting, and hopefully I'll have a bit more on it in the near future.

The Video, Audio and Interface...

Both DVD editions of this movie share the same stunningly beautiful direct- from- digital video transfer. The anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1, enhanced for widescreen TVs) provides a great picture whether you have an expensive widescreen or a standard format TV. The colors are very solid and bright, and even the darkest scenes have excellent detail. Once again, Disney has met the high video transfer standard set by many of their other recent animated releases.

Emperor's New Groove advertising art  Disney
Emperor's New Groove advertising art Disney

Likewise, the audio on both the Standard and Collector’s Editions is identical. As I’ve come to expect from Disney’s recent releases, the Dolby Digital (DD) 5.1 surround sounds crisp, clear, and enveloping – even on a basic Dolby Pro Logic system. Given that, the soundtrack should sound fantastic on either a full DD 5.1 or a DTS 5.1 surround system.

Finally, the user interface on both editions is also virtually identical. There is a brief opening animation followed by a fully animated menu with Kuzco dancing to the main title music. It works perfectly with the feel of the movie, and it’s great to see it on both editions of the movie. The other cute touch on the main menu are the menu selection phrases like, "Hip Scenes" for the chapter selection, "Extra Gravy" for the bonus features, "Tweak it" for the audio and caption set up, and "Start the flick" for playing the movie. Most of the remainder of the menus have static menu graphics, but they all have background music. It all makes for a well-themed, enjoyable, and easy to use interface.

Emperor's New Groove advertising art  Disney
Emperor's New Groove advertising art Disney

The Final Evaluation...

I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it in the theater, and on DVD, I’ve found it to be equally, if not more, enjoyable. Thankfully, both DVD editions provide high quality viewing experiences, and the only difference is really in the amount of extra material you are interested in.

In the end, both editions are winners, and either one or the other would make a great addition to your home theater library.

DVD Groove - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney

COLLECTOR'S EDITION FEATURES

Goodies

Disc One:

  • Commentary by Filmmakers – Director Mark Dindal, Producer Randy Fulmer and More
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Rascal Flatts’ music video featuring the song "Walk The Llama Llama"
  • Set Top Game — An Interactive Challenge For Parents and Their Children With the Voice Talents of Kronk (Patrick Warburton) and Yzma (Eartha Kitt)
  • DVD ROM: The Emperor’s New Groove Action Game* Playable Demo & Exclusive On-Line Content

*THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE Action Game is not compatible with Macintosh Computers

Disc Two:

GET INTO THE GROOVE

  • Experience The Complete Animation Process In A Tour With Dual Viewing Options
  • The Animation Groove
  • The Studio Groove

DEVELOPMENT

  • The Development Process
  • The Research Trip
  • Story Treatment
  • Visual Still Frame Gallery
  • "Kingdom of the Sun" Concepts

STORY AND EDITORIAL

  • The Story Process
  • Scene Pitches, Storyboard Pitch
  • Deleted and Unused Scenes, Including "Destruction of Pacha’s Village," "Pacha’s Family" and "Original Kuscotopia Ending"

LAYOUTS AND BACKGROUNDS

  • The Layout and Background Departments
  • Scene Planning
  • Storyboard To Film Comparison
  • Workbook Galleries

THE ANIMATION PROCESS

  • The Animation Process
  • Character Animation
  • Character Voices
  • Background to Rough
  • Animation Comparison
  • Animation/Character Tests & Galleries
  • Rough Animation to Clean Up Comparison
  • Computer Generated Imagery Props
  • Animation Production Progression

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

  • Ink and Paint/Compositing
  • Clean Up Animation to Ink and Paint Comparison
  • Color Models – Still Frame Gallery

MUSIC AND SOUND

  • Creating the Music and
  • Sound Effects
  • Sting Music Video "My Funny Friend and Me" As Featured On The Soundtrack Mixing Demo
  • Mixing Demostration

PUBLICITY

  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Posters/Ad Campaign

Technical Specifications

anamorphicdvd.gif (2563 bytes)

  • Region 1 Encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • English (DTS 5.1)
  • French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • 28 chapters
  • English subtitles
  • THX Certified
  • Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1
STANDARD EDITION FEATURES

Goodies

  • Commentary by Filmmakers – Director Mark Dindal, Producer Randy Fulmer and More
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Sting’s "Making The Music" video featuring the Academy Awards nominated song "My Funny Friend and Me" (2000 Best Original Song)
  • Rascal Flatts’ music video featuring the song "Walk The Llama Llama"
  • Set Top Game — An Interactive Challenge For Parents and Their Children With the Voice Talents of Kronk (Patrick Warburton) and Yzma (Eartha Kitt)
  • Deleted Scene
  • Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes: Character Voices, Animation Team’s Research Trip To Peru, Creating Computer Generated Images
  • DVD ROM: The Emperor’s New Groove Action Game* Playable Demo, The Emperor’s New Groove Center Demo, Exclusive On-Line Content

*THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE Action Game is not compatible with Macintosh Computers

Technical Specifications

anamorphicdvd.gif (2563 bytes)

  • Region 1 Encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • English (DTS 5.1)
  • French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • 28 chapters
  • English subtitles
  • THX Certified
  • Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1


Soundtrack CD available from Amazon. click to buy

 

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