Balto: Wings of Change (2004)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Trailer-The Land Before Time - The Great Migration
Game-The Ultimate Rescue Challenge Game
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 68:13 (Case: 78)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (47:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Phil Weinstein

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Elana Lesser
Cliff Ruby
Sean Astin
Jodi Benson
Keith Carradine
Charles Fleischer
Maurice LaMarche
Jean Smart
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Adam Berry
Ken Solomon
Marilyn Graf

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the third movie in the Balto franchise and I have a feeling it may well be the last. While the first film was very good and the second also excellent, this third instalment really is not in the same class as the first two.

    The first was a wonderful tale about a creature that was different to those around him, and his journey to self-realisation and acceptance. The second was similarly themed, but this time told the story of Balto's daughter. Both movies involved life-altering decisions, and this was reflected in the depth of their storylines. In this third instalment it is one of Balto's sons that is having a problem, but this son is already accepted by those around him and the only thing really on the line is his job as a sleigh dog.

    While there is some interest in the father-son aspects of the story and their expectations of each other, there is not the tension created by the story involving life-altering decisions.

    The dog teams are currently the only transport between some of these outback, snowbound towns, but this may change with the coming of the aeroplane. The mail run is the main money spinner and whoever holds the mail contract has a future - those that don't are going to be out of a job. There is only one way to decide who is the best to carry the mail - with a race of course. The film follows the race but then twists slightly with a crash and someone trapped out in the snow. Will the dogs turn around their dislike of the competitor and help in the search and rescue?

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

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at 1.33:1 which is most likely its correct aspect ratio as I believe this is a direct to video production.

    The individual frames are sharp but there are substantial quantities of aliasing (such as the eagle's wing at 0:57, but really just about every moving object) which gives a blurred look to any moving object. Shadow detail is as drawn and there is no low level noise.

    The colours are very pure with no graduations of blocking indicating that this transfer probably came straight from the computers that helped animate it. There are lots of bright primary colours and some wonderful sunsets.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present in the transfer. There is quite a bit of aliasing on lines near the horizontal such as at 0:57. There are no film artefacts supporting the direct from digital transfer theory.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 47:24. It is rather badly placed and quite obvious. This is a shame as only thirty seconds earlier there was a complete fade to black which would have hidden the change completely.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is a single Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on this disc.

    Dialogue quality is good throughout as is the audio sync.

    The music is orchestral along with some songs to try and build some emotion. The orchestral score works quite well, but I am not so sure about the songs.

    The music and some ambience make it into the surround speakers but I heard little in the way of directional effects. A missed opportunity here as an old biplane makes several overhead and left/right passages.

    Other than supporting the music there was little activity from the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The static 1.33:1 menu has a montage of scenes leading up to a static image of Balto leading a sleigh team. There are three selections; play, scenes and bonus.

Trailer: The Land Before Time: The Great Migration.

    This is a one minute trailer for the direct to video release of the 10th (that's right, the tenth!) movie in the Land Before Time series. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, this is a fair representation of the film.

The Ultimate Rescue Challenge Game

    A game where the premise is that you have to help Balto find his way home by navigating a series of puzzles. The first is to choose which of two paths to take, the second to help find Much and Luk who have hidden somewhere in the scene. You use the menu to select arrows that show either direction or a hiding spot in the two examples. There seems to be little skill involved as there are no hints as to the right direction - you simply guess and are sent back if you guess wrong.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title is due for release in R1 in February 2005. Based on preliminary release information the only differences are in the subtitles (French and Spanish) and in the soundtracks with an extra two Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, one in French and the other in Spanish.

    This leaves us with a default R4 win.


    There is a subplot in this story with Boris the Goose and a female goose that has flown in for Spring, and we discover one of the reasons that Boris has never migrated while he tries to woo the lady of the eiderdown. This adds a bit of fun but little else. Addendum: After writing this review I noticed that I am at odds with 11-odd people on IMDB who seemed to quite like this film. Everyone likes different things and this movie just didn't engage me the way the earlier ones did.

    The video is marred by the aliasing.

    The audio is functional but hardly a 5.1 effort.

    The extras are of little consequence.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Monday, January 10, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
I disagree, it is MUCH better than Wolf Quest !!! - Anonymous