Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

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Released 20-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
THX Trailer-The Audience Is Listening
Audio Commentary-Don Hahn (Pro), Gary Trousdale (Co-Dir) & Kirk Wise (Co-Dir)
Audio-Visual Commentary-Don Hahn (Pro), Gary Trousdale (Co-Dir) & Kirk Wise (Co-Dir)
Featurette-DisneyPedia: Atlantis-Fact Or Fiction
Featurette-The Journey Begins;Creating Mythology;How To Speak Atlantean
Notes-History Of The Shepherd's Journal; Original Treatment
Gallery-Shepherd's Journal;S's Journal Designs;Designing Atlantis(8)
Featurette-Finding The Story; Designing Atlantis; Voices Of Atlantis
Deleted Scenes-4
Gallery-Style Guide;Colour Script;Layouts/Backgrounds; Vehicles (12)
Featurette-Creating The Characters;Setting The Scene;Digital Production
Notes-Character Dossiers (9)
Gallery-Character Design (17), Print Campaign
Featurette-Char Animation Tests (9)
Multiple Angles-Production Progression (3)
Featurette-Digital Production Tests; Music & Sound
Theatrical Trailer-4
Featurette-Atlantis Found
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 91:50 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:52)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Michael J. Fox
James Garner
John Mahoney
Claudia Christian
Phil Morris
Jacqueline Obradors
Don Novello
Florence Stanley
Jim Varney
Leonard Nimoy
Cree Summer
Corey Burton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp-Dual v2
RPI $39.95 Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English AV Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, minor animation during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    So here is a very atypical animated feature from Walt Disney Feature Animation - and very deliberately so. You will not find a cute little critter anywhere in this baby. How about characters bursting forth into big production song numbers? Nope, you will not find them either. Any chance of diabetics getting seriously ill from the doses of sugar? Not a chance! Okay, so what do we find since we have just eliminated the three staples of Disney animated features since 1937? How about a film that goes back and revisits that other Walt Disney Pictures tradition, one that has to some extent gone by the wayside over the years. Come again? Well, surely you remember those live action, widescreen films that the studio did in the fifties and sixties? You know, things like Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson? Well, Atlantis - The Lost Empire is precisely one of those! Made by pretty much the same team that made The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, this is about as far away from that film as they could get and still be called Disney. By drawing upon that tradition of live action adventure films and combining it with the tradition of the animated features, Walt Disney Feature Animation might just have started a third great tradition.

    Whilst breaking a lot of new (or is that old?) ground for Walt Disney Feature Animation (there is smoking in it for goodness sake!), the film also holds a little more interest than usual for me. Sure, I am a long time fan of their animated features (as evidenced I suppose by the fact that I review the bulk of such releases for the site) but whilst in Florida in early 2001 I had the opportunity to visit Disney-MGM studios and do the tour through the animation studios there. What film were they doing some work on in preparation for the theatrical release? None other than Atlantis - The Lost Empire. So I had a chance to see some of the animation before finalisation, and even at that stage the animation was looking like something quite special. It is not something entirely new that is going to make people stand up and say "wow" like Shrek or Toy Story. Rather it is a very, very skilful blend of traditional, hand drawn animation that has been the staple of Walt Disney Feature Animation for many years and newer computer animation techniques. The result is something very good indeed in terms of animation and this really grabs you from the first couple of minutes of the film - from the opening logo through to the main title. This portion of the film sets out what happened to Atlantis and establishes the basis of the film. Forget that though - just check out the animation. Some really superb stuff that even in comparison with some of the other great pieces of animation around holds up very well indeed. In particular, the scenes of Atlantis at the height of its power are almost gob-smacking in quality and some of the superb subtlety of shadows and water effects just have to be seen. If you are an animation fan, you are going to love this film!

    So what is it all about? Well, the story is pretty much told from the point of view of one Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox), a wannabe explorer who is stuck in the boiler room at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Wishing to follow in the footsteps of his great grandfather Thadeus Thatch, he has a plan to go in search of the great lost city of Atlantis. His research has indicated that it is located not where it was thought to be located, and he is trying to convince the Board to fund his expedition. Their views on Milo are such that his chances of heading an expedition are less than impossible. But then fate takes a hand by his meeting one Helga Sinclair (voiced by the sultry sounding Claudia Christian), whose employer has more faith in Milo than the Board. So it is that Milo finds himself in the presence of Preston Whitmore (voiced by John Mahoney) with a couple of presents - one being The Shepherd's Journal, the famed book that divulges the secrets of Atlantis, the other being the news of an expedition. So, Milo finds himself embarking upon the Ulysses for a voyage of a life time - in search of Atlantis. The main team, aside from those already met, includes the duplicitous Commander Rourke (James Garner), the villainous explosives expert Vinny Santorini (superbly voiced by Don Novello), the unusual Gaetan Moliere (Corey Burton), the youthful mechanical wizard Audrey Ramirez (the beautiful Jacqueline Obradors), the kindly doctor Joshua Sweet (Phil Morris, and you will understand the joke when you watch the film), the sardonic Mrs Packard (the film stealing Florence Stanley) and the cook known as Cookie (the late, great and sadly missed Jim Varney). To Atlantis they head where they find perhaps not what they were expecting - including Kida (Cree Summer) as the Atlantean monarch in waiting and the King himself (Leonard Nimoy). Once there we are confronted by the rights and wrongs of archaeological exploration.

    Unlike so many Disney animated features, you really have to go outside of the animated genre for comparisons for the film. It simply is that unusual in the Disney canon. The story itself, to which many contributed, is good but ultimately proves the weak link of the film. It simply needed to be a little more atypical Disney, as there is just a little too much Disney sugar still residing, but it would rank better than most of the animated features done to date. Where the film really wins is in the animation as already indicated and in the voice casting. This is perhaps one of the most distinctive voice casts ever assembled by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the result is superb. The whole show is stolen by Florence Stanley, who turns a small role into something utterly unforgettable! Some of the lines she was given are just gut busters when she wraps her tongue around them. You don't hear voice work as good as this every day. Only slightly less impressive was Don Novello and were it not for Florence Stanley, he would have been unrivalled in the film. Some of his improvs, as noted in the commentary, are terrific and he just adds this wonderful tone to a character that would otherwise have been quite vapid. Of course the late, great Jim Varney was always guaranteed to provide a great performance and so it is here. Again it is a small role, but his take on the cook is so brilliant that it is hard to ignore. It does not matter where you listen in this voice cast, there is a great performance and in any other film individuals would have stood out a lot more. Here, they just add to a superb voice cast that does a terrific job overall.

    Atlantis-The Lost Empire is a landmark film in a very different way for Walt Disney Feature Animation and in some ways it is a shame that this did not do a lot better at the box office. Perhaps this will just be one of those sleeper classics that will gain its respect from the home video release. I was not expecting a lot from the film, other than some great animation since I had already seen that, but this was a lot more than I was expecting in every way. Not a true classic like The Lion King but still very worthy of your investigation. If you ever needing convincing that animation and the cinemascope vision did belong together, this is the film to do it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    You have probably seen the adverts from a certain motor vehicle manufacturer that feature the word "bugger" quite a lot. Those adverts sort of come to mind when sitting down to write the review of the DVD. Why? Well, quite simply this is a flawless transfer in every way - bar one. It features consistent, albeit relatively minor, aliasing throughout that is going to deny it reference quality stature as a transfer. Bugger! In all other respects this is a mightily impressive transfer, and it surely deserves elevation into the Hall of Fame otherwise.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    As you might have gathered, there is not an awful lot to say about the transfer in a general sense. Basically, it is superb from go to whoa with a really fine sense of detail and sharpness. Not really super sharp, which is rather thankful in some ways as I tend to think it detracts from the animation, but well up there with the best animated features around. The detail though is simply unbelievable at times and every time I watch the film I am quite amazed by the perception of depth that has been achieved through the combination of animation styles, even though this is supposed to be a traditionally animated film (which basically means two dimensional). Clarity is beyond reproach and I don't think you would be able to find any grain here at all.

    Another winning area is the colour. Even though this is supposed to be a little darker in tone, you would not notice it from the colours. Whilst not vibrant in the truest sense of the word, what we have here is a gorgeous blend of colour that if you take the time to look at presents a seriously fine display. I am especially delighted by the opening sequence of Atlantis itself where we get to see the city in all of its glory - the wonder of the colour is a delight. There is not a microgram of indication of any problems with the colour in any way. The depth and consistency of the tones is really very good and I don't think I have seen better from Disney.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer, which makes the sole problem of the DVD all the more noticeable. The aliasing issue is, I readily admit, very minor in nature and those watching for sheer pleasure may well miss most instances of it. Nonetheless it is there and particular examples can be found at 15:48, 18:21 and 59:11, although all character's lines readily show the general nature of the problem. A pity, as in all other respects this is a reference quality transfer. There are no readily apparent film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 79:52. Whilst placed mid-scene, the position has been very well chosen and the layer change is virtually unnoticeable. It is not at all disruptive to the flow of the film.

    There is a limited array of subtitle options on the DVD, but at least we get two English options - "ordinary" English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I checked out both of the subtitles and watched about forty minutes of each of them. They did not miss much at all and are very accurate and easy to read.

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

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English dts 5.1 soundtrack, an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and an English Audio-Visual Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack. I listened to all of the soundtracks in their entirety (and you wonder why it takes so long to review DVDs?). One thing I must say is that it is terrific that we are seeing support of the dts format from Disney in Region 4 and I hope this is a harbinger of even more dts releases during the course of 2002.

    The soundtracks are all beyond reproach and dialogue is very easy to understand in all the soundtracks. Apart from the obvious issues with animation sync, made all the more complicated by the existence of the created Atlantean language, there are no issues with audio sync in the transfer.

    Being such a divergence in style for Disney, the approach to the music score obviously had to be very different to the previous animated features. To a large extent it is, and whilst I would not be willing to suggest that this is Academy Award winning stuff, James Newton Howard has certainly provided the film with an excellent score. Obviously a more traditional score since it lacks the big song numbers, the music certainly gives the film every impetus and it is probably regrettable that we have not got an isolated music score on the DVD.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a first rate effort, with some lovely surround channel work. Whilst there are not a huge number of instances where directional effects could come into play, when they were required the soundtrack was more than up to the task. I found the whole soundtrack very nicely enveloping, really drawing you into the film, and really I made not a single note about the soundtrack other than this. The bass channel gets a nice workout, and is very well mixed into the overall soundscape, so there are no problems of it overpowering the whole film. And all this from only a 384 Kb/s soundtrack!

    The dts 5.1 soundtrack is if anything an even more awesome sounding effort, and it is one of the half bit-rate efforts. Would hate to think how good it would sound at full bit-rate! The more encompassing style of sound of dts provides a noticeable degree of more body to the sound. This makes the surround channel use even more noticeable and gives the overall soundscape a degree more richness and bass than is the case with the Dolby Digital soundtrack. Whilst some will bemoan the fact that it is a half bit-rate soundtrack, I would rather take the half full approach and rejoice that we have two superlative soundtracks to choose from.

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

Extras

    You have got to hand it to Disney - when they put their minds to it, they can really turn out an extras package and a half. Considering that this is by no means the best film ever to come from the studio, the effort and extent of the package provided is extraordinarily good and certainly puts the pressure on other distributors to match and exceed these deluxe two disc sets. Despite the sheer size of the package, it has to be said little here is genuine filler only, and whilst it does not quite match the package put together for Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, it certainly is well worth the trouble to investigate in its entirety. But you will need to set aside a fair chunk of time to do so, for this could well take up to eight hours to investigate. The one thing that stands out clearly in the presentation is the fact that the benefits and requirements of the DVD format were well understood and time has been taken to record additional material, most especially interviews with a sizeable chunk of the production team, for inclusion in the subsequent DVD release.

Menus

    The unifying theme of the menus on the second disc is the submarine itself, in a glorious 3-D vision. It is therefore a very minor pity that the first disc has a more traditional menu, not so themed. Still, after some good introductory animation and audio, the main menu on the first disc sure looks the goods and features animation and audio enhancement. These enhancements are featured on all menus, and on the second disc you get some wonderful contributions from the exceedingly droll, and quite funny, Mrs Packard. All menus are full screen and are 16x9 enhanced. Unless otherwise noted, all audio in the extras package is Dolby Digital 2.0 and all video is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Disc One:

THX Trailer - The Audience Is Listening

Audio Commentary - Don Hahn (Producer), Gary Trousdale (Co-Director) and Kirk Wise (Co-Director)

    Whilst they do have an irritating tendency to crack bad jokes, and obviously wish to prove that everyone who works at Disney is a borderline nutter, it has to be said that this is a rather easy going and quite listenable commentary that is worthy of your time. They provide plenty in the way of background information, behind the scenes changes and so on that really provide a deal of enhancement of the understanding of the way the film gestated over four and a half years. Whilst by no means the best I have ever heard, it is one of those rare commentaries where I would indulge in it again.

Audio-Visual Commentary - Don Hahn (Producer), Gary Trousdale (Co-Director) and Kirk Wise (Co-Director)

    With everyone trying to find new ways of presenting extras with a bit more zing, we get to see all sorts of stuff. Some good, some bad and some downright atrocious. So what have Disney added to the art of extras packages? An audio-visual commentary, that's what! As far as I am aware this is the first time this sort of thing has been done, and it is quite interesting. The underlying commentary is of course the same basic commentary as above but at various points during the film, using the art of seamless branching, you are taken away from the film and shown something pertinent to the film. This occurs 11 times during the commentary and these are:

    The eleven scenes total 23:17 in length and it has to be said that in general the concept works pretty well. The immediacy of having the parts right there and then certainly aids the understanding of the way the way evolved. A big plus to Disney for this one, it works pretty well. If you don't want to listen to the commentary to get to the visual insertions, no problems - there is the option to just play the feature inserts by themselves from the appropriate menu.

Featurette - DisneyPedia: Atlantis - Fact or Fiction

    Annoyingly not featuring any time coding information, this self running extra is basically a bunch of notes about Atlantis. For those that are perhaps not so into the whole mythology of Atlantis, this is a nice overview of the whole deal. The presentation is in a Full Frame format which is not 16x9 enhanced.

Disc Two:

    Before you even get going on Disc Two you encounter a short introduction called Progress On Parade, done in the style of a newsreel production, complete with fake film artefacts. This serves as a brief explanation of what is to follow, and is presented in a Full Frame format that is 16x9 enhanced. Disc Two is divided into seven sections: History, Story and Editorial, Art Direction, Animation Production, Digital Production, Music and Sound and Publicity. You can access the various sections either in the normal way through the menu choice Explore or via a very plain text menu choice Files. In addition to the menu choices, you can select Tour, which is basically a two hour long documentary on the making of the film, bringing together parts of the more extensive selections available. More of this anon. The seven sections are then themselves split into further sections.

History:

    This is split into four items sections: The Journey Begins, Creating Mythology, The Shepherd's Journal and How To Speak Atlantean.

Featurette - The Journey Begins (9:05)

    Like nearly all the featurettes on the DVD, this basically comprises interview material with a wide range of persons who worked on the film with some behind the scenes footage as well as extracts from the film. This is an interesting delving into the gestation of the film, from the time straight after The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.

Featurette - Creating Mythology (8:21)

    With the interview material interspersed with what are presumably a bunch of design drawings, this also interesting effort looks at the research involved regarding Atlantis, and how they took the actual mythology and extended it into the visual film imagery of the myth. This is actually a little more difficult than you would imagine, especially with the depth of back story created for the film.

Notes - The Shepherd's Journal

    Something of a mish-mash of presentations, we start with a section called The History Of The Shepherd's Journal. This is 31 pages of completely fake history of the journal! This is probably the most extensive back story creation that I have ever seen for a film! We then move onto a section entitled Designs, which comprises 31 still images on 4 pages presented in the same style that we saw on Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. The final inclusion in this section is actually the journal itself and we get the chance to read five double leafs of the book - provided you have taken notice of the Atlantean alphabet presented elsewhere and can therefore extrapolate the words on the pages. Interesting enough, and somewhat innovatively presented.

Featurette - How To Speak Atlantean (2:13)

    A shortish introduction to the Atlantean alphabet and language specially created for the film. Hosted by Mark Okrand who created the language, it is presented in the style of a black and white educational production complete with fake film artefacts and sound distortions. It is not 16x9 enhanced. Of marginal interest to me, but others might find it more interesting.

Story And Editorial:

    This is split into three sections: Finding The Story, Deleted Scenes and Original Treatment.

Featurette - Finding The Story (11:20)

    Another quite interesting look into the gestation of the film, this time with respect of the story itself. On this occasion, there are plenty of storyboards of long lost story lines that are inserted into the interview material. Unfortunately the storyboards are a little on the shimmery side, but not really disturbingly so.

Deleted Scenes (4)

    All four are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 of which only the first is 16x9 enhanced. The other three are not so favoured, which is a little understandable since the first is the only one representing completed animation. The four scenes are:

    The reasons why the latter three scenes never progressed beyond storyboards is fairly obvious, but I am not so sure that the elimination of the original opening sequence was quite as beneficial as everyone seems to think.

Notes - Original Treatment

   Comprising 89 stills, being a mix of text and coloured storyboard-type drawings, this is basically a potted demonstration of the film as originally penned. Interesting as a comparison to the final story.

Art Direction:

    This is split into five sections: Designing Atlantis, The Explorers World, Atlantis, Mike Mignola Designs and Art Direction Style Guide.

Featurette - Designing Atlantis (11:20)

    Obviously dealing with the designing of the lost city, this demonstrates some of the influences that were involved in coming up with the final, rather stunning design. Includes some behind the scenes footage amongst the interview material. Quite interesting.

Gallery - The Explorers World

    A set of three galleries depicting designs for Washington D.C. (25 images on 3 pages), The Mothership (15 images on 2 pages) and Aboard The Ulysses (26 images on 3 pages).

Gallery - Atlantis

    A set of four galleries depicting designs for The Road To Atlantis (58 images on 7 pages), The City (76 images on 9 pages), The King's Chamber (8 images on 1 page) and The Crystal Chamber (32 images on 4 pages).

Gallery - Mike Mignola Designs

    A gallery of some of the very striking designs done by the comic book renowned Mike Mignola for various aspects of the production. Great stuff, comprising 47 images on 7 pages.

Gallery - Art Direction Style Guide

    Exactly what it says it is - a guide to the style of Atlantis presenting 38 images on 5 pages.

Animation Production:

    This comprises three main sections: The Characters, Setting The Scene and Layouts and Backgrounds. The Characters section is then split into further main sections: The Voices Of Atlantis, Creating The Characters, The Whitmore Expedition and The Atlanteans.

Featurette - The Voices Of Atlantis (12:00)

    Apart from the usual interviews with the crew, there are also short interviews with most of the main voice talent - Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer, James Garner, John Mahoney, Corey Burton and so on. Quite an interesting effort, especially as we get to see some of the recording sessions with the full dramatic posturings of the voice talent.

Featurette - Creating The Characters (26:17)

    The longest of the myriad of featurettes on the DVD, this is also one of the most interesting as it covers the evolution of the characters in quite decent detail. The various animators set the scene for the whole thing with their short interviews. Lots of drawings and lots of explanation - you cannot really ask for more than this.

Gallery - The Whitmore Expedition

    This really is not a gallery but there really is no one way of easily describing this selection from the extras package. Each of the main characters is detailed here so if you want to know anything about them, this is where to head. Each of the main characters has a dossier file, which is basically the fake history of each character presented in dossier style. Milo, Lyle Rourke, Dr Sweet, Vinny and Wilhelmina Packard run to five pages each, Helga and Audrey run to six pages, whilst Moliere has four pages and Cookie has seven pages. Take the time to read them - they are well thought out. Each character has a collection of design images to illustrate their development: Milo - 118 images on 14 pages, Rourke - 59 images on 8 pages, Dr Sweet - 24 images on 3 pages, Vinny - 18 images on 2 pages, Helga - 60 images on 8 pages, Audrey - 27 images on 3 pages, Packard - 14 images on 2 pages, Moliere - 37 images on 5 pages, Cookie - 36 images on 4 pages, Whitmore - 191 images on 4 pages, and miscellaneous characters - 191 images on 22 pages. As you can see, quite an extensive collection! Contrasting the vast still images are some animation tests: Milo (0:44), Rourke (0:28), Dr Sweet (0:28), Helga (0:16), Audrey (0:13), Packard (0:12), Moliere (0:16) and Cookie (0:22). These all take the form of short, rough animations are are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in general, which is not 16x9 enhanced. Rounding out this section is the sole Production Progression in the extras package. It is of Milo and runs 0:24. You use the angle function of your player to switch between the three options: rough animation, cleanup animation and final colour.

Gallery - The Atlanteans

    In a similar vein to The Whitmore Expedition, this modest little collection is broken into three sections: Kida, King Nedakh and Miscellaneous Atlanteans. Only Kida has an animation test, lasting 0:46, presented in a non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.35:1. All three are blessed with a collection of images highlighting their design: Kida's collection comprises 76 images on 9 pages, King Nedakh's comprises 73 images on 9 pages and the Miscellaneous Atlanteans' comprises 103 images on 12 pages.

Featurette - Setting The Scene (12:16)

    Returning to the interviews, this effort details the work involved in designing the the overall look of the film, the choices of colour and the efforts involved in the effects animation. Whilst perhaps not as interesting as some of the featurettes on the DVD, there is still enough to make the viewing worthwhile.

Gallery - Layouts And Backgrounds

    Actually comprising two separate galleries, Color Script and Layouts and Backgrounds, these are pretty much self explanatory. Color Script presents 59 images on 7 pages which quite well show the development of the script as far as the adoption of colour is concerned. Layouts and Backgrounds presents 141 images on 17 pages showing exactly that.

Digital Production:

    Split into six main sections entitled Digital Production, Digital Production Tests, The Expedition Vehicles, The Atlantean Armada, Vehicle Size Comparison and Characters. If you like the intricacies of digital animation, then this is the section for you!

Featurette - Digital Production (10:16)

    The usual interview based effort to keep the consistency up across the DVD. Interesting though as it shows some of the less obvious problems of this sort of animated film - namely how to weld three distinctly different styles of animation into one coherent picture.

Featurette - Digital Production Tests (6:20)

    It might appear possible on paper but the true test is to actually do it in the computer and weld the different stuff together on film. This shorter featurette shows the results of those animation tests. This is not 16x9 enhanced.

Gallery - The Expedition Vehicles

    Providing the vehicle equivalent of The Whitmore Expedition gallery, the format is very similar. It comprises five main sub-sections - The Ulysses, Sub Pods, Aqua-Evac, The Convoy Vehicles and Miscellaneous Vehicles - with The Convoy Vehicles further split into seven smaller sections - The Digger, Troop Transport, Cookie's Chuck Wagon, The Tinder Box, The Tanker and Gyro-Evac, Whitmore's Wing and Command Car. Each item has a turnaround - basically a detailed but uncoloured raw computer model turning around - varying in length from 2:24 (Miscellaneous Vehicles) to 0:20 (Sub Pods), which in themselves are quite interesting but after a while viewing the whole collection turn out to be very, very boring. Each item too has a pile of design images, varying from 4 images to 46 images. In total there are 191 images on 28 pages. The only real variety in the section is the fact that there is a progression showing the development of The Ulysses (which is the submarine by the way) that lasts for 0:40. Most of the stuff in the section is not 16x9 enhanced, with only the turnaround for The Ulysses apparently being 16x9 enhanced, and the aspect ratios are variable ranging from 1.66:1 to 2.35:1. It has to be said that by the end of this section, things have got a little boring. There is also some evidence of aliasing in the turnarounds that is a bit distracting.

Gallery - The Atlantean Armada

    Well if the previous gallery provided the vehicular equivalent of The Whitmore Expedition gallery, this obviously provides the similar equivalent to the The Atlanteans gallery. Everything is combined into the one section here, with a turnaround lasting 2:11 followed by 87 design images on 10 pages. It suffers the same issues with aliasing as the previous gallery's turnarounds, but is more consistently presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 that is not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Vehicle Size Comparison (0:43)

    The shortest featurette on the DVD but arguably the most useful one. The film never really gives you a good sense of the relative size of the various parts of the film - so this is the best way of determining that relative size. The scope of some of the vehicles is most impressive!

Gallery - Characters

    Not all the characters were traditional hand animations and this section concentrates on the two big digital characters - namely The Leviathan and the Stone Giants. The final part of the section deals with the host of Digital Extras in the film. All three have the obligatory turnaround - 2:05, 0:28 and 1:38 respectively - with the former two also offering 17 and 24 still images. The turnarounds are variously 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 in aspect ratio and are not 16x9 enhanced. The Digital Extras turnaround seems to suffer somewhat from noise.

Music And Sound:

    At last - a section with just one item, namely itself!

Featurette - Music And Sound (8:59)

    Wherein the main driving forces behind the film get to talk about the music contributions of James Newton Howard and the sound contributions of Gary Rydstrom. Worthwhile though as the music is really very good.

Publicity:

Theatrical Trailer #1 (1:11)

Theatrical Trailer #2 (1:17)

Theatrical Trailer #3 (2:55)

Theatrical Trailer #4 (0:57)

    Obviously basic variations on the same theme. Trailers #1 and #2 appear to be basically teaser trailers for the purpose of advance promotion of the film. Trailer #3 is a true theatrical trailer whilst Trailer #4 appears to be an extended television trailer. They are all presented in the same format, which is regrettably not 16x9 enhanced. Nothing much wrong with these technically speaking.

Print Campaign

    A rather unexciting collection of 17 still images on 2 pages.

 

    This concludes the main trawl through the Explore menu options, other than to mention what amounts to an afterthought in the manner of an Easter egg (almost). It is not obvious in the menu but as you arrow left or right across the middle, an option for DVD credits appears. Not much but it's there anyway.

Featurette - The Making Of Atlantis: The Lost Empire (119:05)

    What, more? you ask. Well, not really. This is what the Tour option comprises, and it is broadly speaking an integrated, sequential view of the main featurettes already discussed above (The Journey Begins, Creating Mythology, Finding The Story, Designing Atlantis, The Voices Of Atlantis, Creating The Characters, Setting The Scene, Digital Production and Music And Sound) bookended by two otherwise hidden featurettes (unless you use the File menu) - a short Introduction (1:29) and Atlantis Found (7:41). The former comprises interview snippets with various crew members. The latter comprises interviews too with the crew but more along the lines of what Atlantis has meant to them. If you are not into fiddling around with every option on the DVD, then this is about as good as it gets in making-of featurettes.

R4 vs R1

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

    In a package of this scope, most of the stuff on the Region 1 release would hopefully have made the trans-Pacific hop for the Region 4 release. This is very much the case, although reading a couple of reputable reviews would indicate that there are some differences. We believe the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The comparison is obviously with the two-disc Collector's Edition version available in Region 1. It should be pointed out that there is also a pared-down single disc version that features both a widescreen and pan and scan version of the film, but way less extras. All in all, I would call this one even. It should be noted, though, that DVD File indicate that all supplementary materials on the Region 1 Collector's Edition is 16x9 enhanced. Obviously, this is not so in Region 4 and if proven correct, could be a swayer in favour of Region 1.

Summary

    Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs set a very high standard of DVD presentation for Disney and to be honest this does not quite live up to that benchmark. However, it remains an impressive DVD package, the likes of which we do not see too often and in that regard it certainly warrants investigation. For those that do investigate the DVD, you shall be justly rewarded with an underrated film and some very, very good animation. Perhaps my expectations going in were overly influenced by the negative press that I had heard about the film, but in the end I enjoyed the film and even though I hate extras, did find plenty of interest in the expansive extras package.

    Mind you, Disney still insist on those crappy looking and cheap looking soft transparent double Brackley cases that destroy the whole quality of the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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