This review is sponsored by
|Category||Family||Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary - Eric Leighton (Director), Ralph Zondag (Director), Neil Krepala (Visual Effects Supervisor), Neil Eskuri (Digital Effects Supervisor)
Game - Aladar's Adventure
Game - DinoSearch
Featurette - Dinopedia
Active Subtitle Track - Fossil (also accessible from menu)
Music Video - Orange Blue
(Not 82 minutes as per packaging)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Samuel E. Wright
|RPI||$36.95||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, the whole point of these films is to advertise toys, really|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The story begins with a herd of moderately-sized dinosaurs tending to their nests, with a younger member of the herd continually buzzing the expectant mothers until it follows an insect into the forest. Unfortunately, the forest in question just happens to be the hiding place of a very large Tyrannosaurus Rex, who chases the entire herd out of their nesting area, killing one of them along the way. In the chaos, an egg is left behind, where it is picked up by another dinosaur who proceeds to lose it in the river, where it is picked up by a Pterosaur who, after carrying it across the oceans, proceeds to lose it in a rainforest. Here, the egg hatches, and Aladar the Iguanadon (D.B. Sweeney) emerges into the care of a clan of lemurs that includes such characters as Plio (Alfre Woodard) and Zini (Max Casella), to name but a few.
Okay, so lemurs and other such primates didn't exist until after the dinosaurs died out, but this is a work of fiction, and a Disney one at that. After meeting with a mixed reception from the lemurs, Aladar is eventually accepted into the tribe and raised as one of their own. We are then treated to a slice of life in the lemur colony that is one half Discovery Channel style and the other half sorbitol. Unfortunately, the lemurs' home is soon destroyed by a meteor storm, so Aladar takes his adoptive family with him to join a group of dinosaurs on the long, dangerous journey to the relative safety of the nesting grounds. Said group of dinosaurs is led by the aggressively power-hungry Kron (Samuel E. Wright), who is driving the pack mercilessly in spite of all sense and the compassion represented by Neera (Julianna Margulies).
I'm still not sure exactly what to think of this film, as I am quite clearly outside of the target audience, although I was quite clearly outside of the target audience even when statistics would have had it that I was in the target audience, if you get my meaning. Nonetheless, if digitally animated dinosaurs is your thing, and you already own Walking With Dinosaurs, this may well be worthy of your consideration.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. This is a slight variation from the 1.85:1 aspect ratio that the film was presented in theatres with, but considering that the film was also presented in digital theatres with an aspect ratio of 1.50:1, I believe that picture has been added to the top and bottom of the frame to achieve this ratio.
This transfer is sharp. Sharp enough to create a certain reality that was never really achieved in other animated features such as A Bug's Life or Toy Story, at least in my opinion. The shadow detail of this transfer is excellent, with so much detail on offer in the dark sections of the picture that it's almost like watching a real herd of dinosaurs (bad joke, I know). There is, of course, no low-level noise to be found in this transfer.
The colours are vibrant, but not exactly what I would call bright, except maybe during such sequences as the meteor shower. The main characters alone have enough shades of brown and green in them to keep the human eye busy, and the scenery will simply send colour junkies into overload. Needless to say, there are no composite artefacts to be found.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, surprisingly so considering that the bitrate rarely gets above seven and a half megabits per second. The film in general looks so smooth and natural that is it hard to believe it was compressed at all. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing, the most noticeable example being one at 42:09 on Neera's neck that you'd have to be extremely quick to notice. Other instances of aliasing include really small examples at 42:09, 60:47, 62:02, and 68:55, but none of these were particularly intrusive or even noticeable. The only bothersome aliasing was in the end credits, where the text shimmers quite annoyingly as it scrolls up the screen. There were no film artefacts in the picture, as you'd rightly expect with a feature of this type.
This disc is Dual Layered, but no discernible layer change was detected during the feature. Given the relatively short running time, the average bitrate of the transfer, and the number of extras on the disc, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the entire film has been compressed onto a single layer.
There are two soundtracks presented on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits a second, and an English audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits a second. I listened to both of these soundtracks.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, with very little effort required to understand what is being said. Indeed, much of the story doesn't even require much dialogue to move it forward, so following what is going on will not present any problems. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, since all the dialogue was recorded after the visuals were completed anyway.
I am not a fan of composer James Newton Howard. I say that because the score music in this film is very appropriate and moving, giving each and every scene an appropriate feel. In a way, the music rescues the film from being just another Disney film, which makes a nice change from the syrupy pap that I am used to hearing in other Disney films. Parents of small children will have no problems with owning the score music on a separate disc, and I have no problem recommending it over the film itself.
The surround channels were quite aggressively utilized to support all manner of sounds. Music, flying dinosaurs or insects, grunts, growls, and a plethora of other sound effects were consistently directed around the speakers to create a soundfield that was very immersive. The George Lucas school of thought that sound is at least half the experience in a film was obviously in effect here, because even the quiet sequences have enough surround activity to draw the viewer in. At no time did the soundfield collapse in any true sense of the term.
The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the growls and footsteps of the dinosaurs, as well as a number of other bass-heavy effects that kept the floor gently rumbling.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is excellent.
The extras are quite numerous.
© Dean McIntosh (my
bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 19, 2001
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|