Samurai Jack-The Premiere Movie (NTSC) (2001) (NTSC)
Featurette-Behind the Sword
Featurette-Samurai Jack Archives
Featurette-Samurai Jack Bonus Episode
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||65:50 (Case: 70)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Genndy Tartakovsky|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The pilot episode on this DVD starts out quite sombrely as the story of a young boy who watches as his father is defeated and kidnapped by the evil, shape-shifting, magic-wielding warlord named Aku (this being the Japanese word for "evil"). The young boy becomes a samurai warrior, training for the day when he can finally take on and defeat the oppressive Aku. The day of this battle arrives and the samurai meets his challenge. However, just as the samurai is about to defeat his nemesis, Aku uses his last remaining magic to fling him into the future, using a time portal. It turns out that the future is indeed a pretty bleak-place - openly Blade Runner-ish in its feel - where Aku has become the all-powerful dictator. The local youths in the future dub the strange new samurai "Jack", and help him in his quest to try to return to the past. Jack in return helps the locals fight Aku's oppressive drones.
OK, it sounds like a pretty silly plot when you have to describe it, and it probably is. But hey, it makes for an interesting concept for a new animated series. And it must be said, this is definitely a lot better quality than your run-of-the-mill kids' animated series. It contains a very bold and stylistic animation style, some surrealistic backgrounds (all hand-drawn) and some very slick production, including great use of devices such as split-screen effects, freeze frames and slow motion to break it up visually. These aspects, along with a punchy soundtrack, quick pace and witty dialogue should broaden the cartoon's appeal to "kids (most probably boys) of all ages". If you haven't heard of this animated series before, as indeed I hadn't, then I recommend checking it out - it's a lot of fun.
Note that the above plot synopsis summarises the pilot episode (actually 3 normal-length episodes, it would appear). Apart from this feature/pilot, this DVD also features a bonus episode from the series - and I found this one even cooler and funnier than the pilot! The inclusion of this episode as an extra on the DVD is clever marketing by Warner Bros, as it does leave you wanting to see more. I wonder if there will be a Samurai Jack 2 DVD release?...
This video transfer is excellent, and can't be faulted for this type of release. The video aspect ratio is naturally 1.33:1. Note that this is an NTSC transfer though, so you will need an NTSC-compatible TV to view it.
Sharpness is fine, with excellent detail and no apparent grain. Shadow detail is obviously not relevant and there is no noise in the transfer.
Colours in this animation are certainly striking and are very well rendered indeed on this DVD - extremely bold and well saturated, but without tending to over-saturation at all.
There are no MPEG artefacts, no film-to-video artefacts and no source artefacts. That is, apart from the odd judder effect I noted with some of the quick pans. These might possibly be judder effects associated with the infamous NTSC "3:2 pull down", or may just have been an intentional part of the animation style. Anyway, it's hardly an issue.
There are only English subtitles included on this disc, despite the claim on the rear cover that it also includes Spanish subtitles. I sampled the English subtitles and they are fine, only missing the odd word here and there.
This is a single layer disc.
The audio transfer is all that it needs to be, being 2 channel and fulfilling its role perfectly.
Dialogue quality is fine - audio sync being obviously less of an issue for animation - and the transfer delivers on all the levels that the driving soundtrack calls for. The stereo speakers get a good workout, and the subwoofer is also called upon fairly constantly to fill out the bottom end of the bass in the soundtrack.
There are no sound drop-outs, audio hiss or any other anomalies.
A surround mix probably wouldn't have really added much and so its absence is understandable.
|Surround Channel Use|
A great list of extras, which fill out the background to the feature and provide a great teaser of the series. All the extras are presented in 1.33:1 video and 2-channel audio.
A nice extra, featuring a sequence of artwork set to music, showcasing the progressive stages of animation, from early original design drawings through to final animation style.
This episode is a hoot! I won't give away the plot, but let me just say that the introduction of a rather burly, bagpipe-playing, name-calling, antagonistic Scottish clansman makes for a lot of fun and provides a great foil for our friend Jack!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
(Note: this section re-edited 19 September 2002.)
The Region 4 release of this DVD misses out on: a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (note that this is not listed on the back cover, but is present nonetheless) and a DVD-Rom feature, providing a screen saver, game and website link. The Region 1 version in turn misses out on the Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
A pity that we miss out on the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, plus the DVD Rom link for the kids. The latter I can easily live without, but it is annoying to find we miss out on a 5.1 mix just so we can get an extra language track. I am reliably informed by a reader who has this R1 release that the 5.1 mix is quite good, too.
Looks like the R1 disc is the version of choice then. However, as the disc is available here at a discount price, it will be a personal preference as to whether you feel it is worthwhile paying the extra money to import this disc.
(Many thanks to our reader JMM from Spain, for pointing out the extra 5.1 soundtrack on the R1 version - not listed in the specs.)
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using Component output|
|Display||Toshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Yamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Amplification||Elektra Home Theatre surround power amp|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears|