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Monday, September 1, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: Tarzan Special Edition

Tarzan is one of my favorite Disney animated films. It  made great use of hand-drawn and CG animation. The vine surfing scenes hold up as well today as they did in 1999. There is also a very smooth flow to the film as it moves from one scene into another. This was the Disney animated film that showed me that Disney could tell a mature story with heart and sensitivity. In a sense, Disney animation had grown up and reached me on several levels. How does the blu-ray look? Well, it's not bad but it's not perfect either. Let's get into the review shall we?



Video Quality:

Sadly the 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation doesn't live up to Disney's usual high standards. There are issues with this transfer such pixilation, macroblocking in the animal fur, and some strange flickering. I had high hopes for another flawless Disney transfer of an animated film that deserved a better presentation. It's not bad but it's not perfect either.



Audio Quality:

Another strange choice here is that Disney decided to go with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mix instead of remastering the audio and create a 5.1 surround track. I was wondering why there wasn't the powerful thundering sound coming from my speakers as Tarzan fights an enemy or two or when he is vine surfing. Now I know why. The rest of the soundfield is fairly solid as dialogue is clear, directional focus makes this a fun immersive experience, and the songs and score will fill your room. So the audio presentation is good but just not as strong as it should have been. 



Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary: The same audio commentary from Directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima and producer Bonnie Arnold that was recorded for the DVD release of the film but still very insightful if you have never listened to it. They cover everything from the design, to the script, to the voice talent, to the animation, to innovations, and the music. They also make reference to the first time that any Tarzan film has shown the progression of Tarzan's famous yell.
  • History and Development (SD, 8 minutes): An all too brief look at some of the early development of the movie, "From Burroughs to Disney," "Early Presentation Reel" and "Research Trip to Africa."
  • The Characters of Tarzan (SD, 23 minutes): A great look into the character development, featuring "Creating Tarzan," "Animating Tarzan," "Creating Jane and Porter," "Creating Kala and Kerchak," "Creating Terk and Tantor" and "Creating Clayton."
  • Animation Production (SD, 14 minutes): I love this look into the "Deep Canvas" innovation for the film. Four segments are presented here, including: "The Deep Canvas Process," "Deep Canvas Demonstration," "Production Progression Demonstration" and "Intercontinental Filmmaking."
  • Story & Editorial (SD, 6 minutes): Take a look at the script writing and the storyboarding with these two featurettes: "Building the Story" and "Storyboard-to-Film Comparison".
  • Music & More (SD, 41 minutes): Learn more about the score and the songs of Tarzan in these featurettes: "The Making of the Music," "Tarzan Goes International," "You'll Be in My Heart" and "Strangers Like Me" Music Videos, a "Trashin' the Camp" studio session with Phil Collins and N'Sync, and an original Phil Collins song demo.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 minutes): Take a look at several unfinished and deleted scenes along with two scenes with an alternate opening. 
  • DisneyPedia: Living in the Jungle (SD, 6 minutes): An educational featurette for kids.
  • Publicity (SD, 5 minutes): Three theatrical trailers.


Conclusion:

One of my favorite Disney animated films and I was disappointed by this blu-ray release. The problems with the video and audio are minor though. While not perfect the movie still a lot of fun with great action and heart, great music and some fun bonus features. This still deserves a place on your shelf.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided but the review is strictly my own opinion.*

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