Land Before Time VIII, The: The Big Freeze (2001)

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Released 19-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Main Menu Audio & Animation
Game-Littlefoot's Puzzles; Seek & Find
Karaoke-Family; The Lesson
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 75:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (18:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Charles Grosvenor
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Aria Noelle Curzon
Rob Paulsen
Thomas Dekker
Anndi McAfee
Jeff Bennett
Robert Guillaume
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Michael Tavera
James Horner
Billy Martin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Dutch
Hebrew
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Land Before Time is a series of animated movies. I vaguely remember seeing ads for the first one (it was released in 1988), but I hadn't realised how successful it was until I found myself reviewing the eighth movie. The later movies have gone direct to video, which would explain why I don't recall seeing ads for them in cinemas.

Land Before Time VIII is subtitled The Big Freeze. It is not talking about an ice age, I think, but rather a particularly bad winter, with snow falling and covering all the food in the Great Valley.

The central characters in the Land Before Time series are a number of young dinosaurs of a variety of species. Telling which species is which is not too easy, because the immature dinosaurs haven't developed all the characteristics of their parents yet I'm guessing based on looking at their parents. There's Littlefoot, who appears to be something like a brontosaurus; Cera, who is a Triceratops (she only has one horn, so far); Spike, who is an orphan (which makes it hard to tell what he'll grow into) there's some talk of him being a "spike-tail"; Petrie, a pterodactyl; and Ducky, whose species I don't recognise. Part way in we also meet Tippy, who is a stegosaurus.

All these dinosaurs are plant eating. The only encounters with a meat-eating dinosaur (a Tyrannosaurus Rex, unsurprisingly) are rather, umm, negative. I suspect the makers were simply playing it safe, rather than trying to suggest a vegetarian life-style.

All the dinosaurs talk, both children and adults, some with slight accents (Petrie and Ducky talk a little oddly, a bit stilted, but understandable). The children are expected to listen respectfully to a wise old dinosaur, Mr Thicknose, who is a variant on a Triceratops without horns. Mr Thicknose was voiced by Robert Guillaume, who was the only voice actor I recognised (you may remember him playing the title role on Benson) he has a good speaking voice, but cannot sing to save his life. And that's a shame, because there are three songs in this movie, and he "sings" one of them.

The first song, The Mad Song, is about getting angry, and how one is expected to behave. It's a bit of silliness, and while it has no particular redeeming values, it does no harm. The second song, Family, and the third one, The Lesson, are both a bit heavy on the moral values, but American cartoons have never been afraid to lay on the moral values with a trowel. At least the moral values they are espousing aren't objectionable ones.

All-in-all, this is a fairly harmless 75 minutes of entertainment for children, complete with the heart-warming sentiment that family doesn't just mean blood-relatives. It's not high art, but it should keep them amused while you take a breather.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is the intended ratio, because this film went direct to video. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

The image is clear enough, but more than a little soft. Shadow detail is an irrelevance in animation, but this particular style uses very primitive shading, with just a single shade substituting for finely graduated shadowing. Film grain is no problem. There is no low-level noise.

Colour is good, but there's little subtlety in colouring each of the dinosaurs is basically coloured a single shade, with a lighter belly colour and darker spinal colour. There are no colour-related artefacts.

I didn't notice any film artefacts. It is possible that this movie was shot directly on video, thus obviating film artefacts, or it may just be that this film has never been screened theatrically.

There is a fair bit of aliasing (mostly mild) and some dot crawl on the black lines outlining the characters. But there's no moire (no fine patterns for moire), and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in four languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles, which include some description of sound effects. They are fairly accurate, well-timed, and legible they're white with fine black outlining, in a nice rounded font.

The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes early at 18:19, and is virtually invisible inside a silent black moment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in English, Dutch, or German. I only listened to the English, but I'm advised that the Dutch is pitch-corrected, unlike the English or German.

The dialogue is clear and comprehensible. Audio sync is not a real consideration for animation, but there are no obvious glitches, and no dropouts.

Michael Tavera is responsible for the score, some of which is derived from the original score (for the first Land Before Time film), which was by James Horner. There's additional music from Billy Martin. The songs are credited to Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom.

The surround speakers get no significant use, except for some minor tinkling for snow falling.

The subwoofer gets plenty to do, providing footfalls for the larger dinosaurs, and the occasional ominous rumble.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The extras are clearly aimed at the child audience for this movie.

Menu

The menu is animated with music.

Puzzles Littlefoot's puzzles

These are four jigsaw puzzles, each with six pieces (and always in the same order). They are easy to do, and have pretty pictures on them.

Puzzle Seek and Find

This is a fairly simple puzzle where the player just moves the cursor to match a highlighted shape. A correct answer is rewarded with cheering.

Sing-along

Two of the songs provided in karaoke format:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this disc has DVD-ROM features, including a screensaver. Apart from that, the only differences lie in the languages available (the R1 offers French, the R4 offers German and Dutch). All I can find suggests that the R1 transfer is not substantially different, so unless you need a particular language other than English, I'd say you could be equally happy with either version.

Summary

The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze is a children's movie, presented quite nicely on DVD.

The video quality is good enough, but rather soft.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are appropriate to the age of the intended audience.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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