Emperor's New Groove, The: Ultimate Groove Edition (2000)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-Oct-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Deleted Scenes
Music Video-Walk The Llama Llama
Featurette-Dance Sequence-Walk The Llama Llama
Game-The Emperor's Got Game
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer-2 + 3 TV spots
Audio Commentary-Randy Fullmer (Producer), Mark Dindal (Director) et al
Music Video-My Funny Friend And Me-Sting
Introduction-Extras
Featurette-Development-The Process; The Research Trip
Notes-Story Treatment
Gallery-Vis Dev;King/Sun;Workbk;Layout;Colour Key;BG;Char (3);Poster
Featurette-Story/Editorial-Process; Pitch (3); Reels
Featurette-Layout And Backgrounds; Scene Planning
Storyboard Comparisons
Featurette-Anim Process;CGI Props;Character Anim; Char Voices; Clean-Up
Multiple Angles-Production Progression
Featurette-Compositing; Clean-Up Comp; Music and Sound Fx; Mixing Demo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 75:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mark Dindal
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring David Spade
John Goodman
Eartha Kitt
Patrick Warburton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Sting


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I've got a bit of a thing for animated features lately. I have made the bold claim that the recent release of Shrek on DVD has seen that movie elevated to the number one spot in my house - and I don't even have any kids!. I've somehow managed to watch it three times in four days and still found time to write a couple of reviews. The next title off the pile for me to review was The Emperor's New Groove and it also just happened to be an animated feature, and from Disney no less. As a result, I'm getting asked lots of questions about any pending arrivals to the family, given the number of children's titles I have reviewed lately. Rest assured I am simply getting my collection started for when they do arrive...maybe... Anyway, I digress...

    The Emperor's New Groove is the story of Emperor Kuzco (the voice talents of Just Shoot Me's David Spade) who is a brash young emperor of a far away South American country set high in the Andes. He's single and spends his time grooving around the palace and generally being nasty, self-centred, and not very pleasant - as he often says - 'It's All About - Me'. In between putting down prospective brides and being mean to the local population, he engages in a battle of wits against his evil adviser Yzma (Eartha Kitt), who is hideously ugly and always scheming to get rid of him. She is ably assisted by her henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton) who also likes, in addition to breaking heads, cooking of all things. When a plan to kill Kuzco by poisoning him goes awry, and he is turned into a llama, Yzma must find a way to get rid of the bothersome animal/emperor. Kronk sticks him in a sack and dumps him, but he somehow manages to get stuck on a cart owned by Pacha (John Goodman), a peasant who lives in a nearby village. Kuzco is transported back to the village by the none-the-wiser Pacha. When the llama/emperor is discovered, Pacha and Kuzco don't hit things off too well mainly due to the young emperor's disdain for all things below his station and the fact that he is planning on building his new holiday home on the very site of Pacha's village. Somehow they must overcome this dislike and work together to get the emperor returned to his natural state and back to the palace, before Yzma and Kronk find them both.

    Essentially a buddy tale for kids, this is an entertaining animated featured that has the usual Disney elements (song by famous contemporary artist, a moral, and a nice happy ending), but also features a number of genuinely funny gags that even the adults will find themselves chuckling along to. It has elements of Aladdin, and quite understated attempts at humour that are not the norm for a Disney flick.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a transfer that doesn't require much comment, as it is without fault and is a very, very good example of what modern animated video should look like.
   
    Presented in a (mail-slotted) aspect of 1.66:1 it features 16x9 enhancement.

    Given the nature of animation these days, anything less than absolute exquisite sharpness and detail would be disappointing. This video transfer does not disappoint here at all. It is finely detailed with no problems of any sort.

    Colours are vibrant, with a very wide palette. The interiors of Kuzco's palace show brilliant splashes of reds and golds, while the jungle scenes offer sparkling greens and blues. All round, the colours are very pleasing to the eye and I'm sure the kiddies will appreciate it.

    There are no MPEG or any other artefacts present at all.

    There are several subtitles available. I sampled both the normal English flavour and the English for The Hearing Impaired. Both were remarkably accurate.

    This dual disc set features dual layered formatting for both discs. I was unable to detect any layer changes.

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

Audio

    Not the sort of track that will blow you away and not one to show off your home theatre setup, but it does the job nicely which is all you can ask.

    There are three audio tracks available for selection. These are English, Norwegian, and Danish. All are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. I listened to the English soundtrack by virtue of the fact that I do not speak either Norwegian or Danish. It offers good fidelity, though is mostly concentrated on the front channels.

    Dialogue is excellent, though some of Kuzco's lines are delivered pretty quickly by David Spade and can become a little bit lost in the jumble. Overall, an excellent dialogue effort, with obviously no audio sync problems.

    The songs are written and performed by Sting, whose single My Funny Friend and Me is the closing credits song and there is a funky intro number by Tom Jones. The score is composed by John Debney and provides the right mix of funky grooving music that the emperor needs to, well, groove.

    The use of the surround channels is not overly aggressive. In fact, there are only a couple of instances where they burst into life.

    The subwoofer also sees little use, though when called into action it complements the audio seamlessly and does not attract undue attention.

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

Extras

    Much like Ian's recent review of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and its substantial extras package, Disney have seen fit to kit out The Emperor's New Groove with a heavily laden package of extras that took me several hours to get through. They are all nicely bundled together on a second disc and even feature a sort-of "Best Bits" or "25 words or less" version for those that don't want to wade through the entire contents of Disc 2. The menus suffer from the usual Disney affliction of slow navigation, but are very smartly laid out with a nice navigation map on the inside slick cover. Unless otherwise stated all have Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

DISC ONE:

Main Menu Introduction

    A 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced introduction that features the oddball scene where the monkey eats the bug, then zooms into the palace where the emperor is grooving.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The main theme song playing over an animation of the Emperor still grooving. Also 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Deleted Scenes

    This scene is titled the Practice Destruction of Pacha's Village. Running for 1:29 minutes, it features an introduction from the animators explaining the reason for its removal. Presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 but not 16x9 enhanced.

Music Video - Rascal Flatts "Walk The Llama Llama"

    Running for 1:27 minutes, this is a sort of Wiggles style music video by Rascal Flatts for the song Walk the Llama Llama. Presented in an aspect of 1.66:1 it is not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Dance Sequence  "Walk The Llama Llama"

    This features the same song from Rascal Flatts, this time in the form of a dance along sequence. The video clip is the same as the music video above, but it appears in a smaller window on the screen. There is a young boy performing the Llama Llama dance at the bottom of the screen that presumably you are encouraged to learn and join in with. Running for 1.27 minutes it is in an aspect of 1.66:1 and is a non-16x9 enhanced video transfer.

Game - The Emperor's Got Game

    Not a DVD-ROM game but one to play on your DVD and the TV. I'm not a real fan of set-top games. These are more for the realm of the DVD-ROM arena, simply because there is only so much you can do with a set-top and the DVD remote, and they become very monotonous, very quickly. This game features two parts. Part one is a trivia game where you need to answer 5 questions correctly to get Kuzco back to the palace successfully before Yzma catches him (you do need to have watched the movie first - I did, and got five out of five!). Part Two is a simple game where you need to pour three magic potions into a glass in the correct order. A little more difficult, though there are only so many combinations to try.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    This behind the scenes featurette consists of three parts that can either all be played from the beginning or selected individually (though there is a bug with the menu selection of Option 2 - Creation of CGI Props: it does not work when selected). The three chapters presented here are The Research Trip To Peru, Creation of CGI Props, and Character Voices, running for 1.24, 2.16, and 5.00 minutes respectively. Each are presented Full Frame 1.33:1. These chapters must be considered a sort of 'best-of' the making-of as they are repeated in amongst the multitude of behind the scenes material on Disc 2.

Theatrical Trailer

    The theatrical trailer runs for 2.26 minutes and is presented in 1.33 Pan & Scan. It is quite poor quality considering the quality of the main feature with lots of grain present. Quite a funny trailer that captures (and I guess spoils) the more hilarious moments.

Audio Commentary

    This commentary features many of the crew that took part in the production of the movie. It is led by the Producer Randy Fullmer and Director Mark Dindal who introduce various other members of the animation team throughout the commentary. They discuss most of the animation process and why certain scenes occurred the way they did and what was changed and why. The various members that join them talk specifically about the characters that they developed or the part they played in the process. All speak very clearly and are obviously watching the film at the time. Because there are so many people talking, this type of commentary could often become confusing as to who is who, but this doesn't seem to be a problem with this commentary. Randy Fullmer and Mark Dindal, are instantly recognizable, probably because they appear throughout the entire 2 disc set, so you soon know when they are talking, and they introduce each new speaker very well. They also have a good rapport with each other and so this is a reasonably lively commentary track and adds to the overall quality. You will certainly learn something about the animation process after listening to this. If you don't, then move onto Disc 2 and watch the lot. After several hours there, you will know everything there is to know about animation.

Music Video - Sting "My Funny Friend and Me"

    Running for 2.48 minutes, this non 16x9 enhanced video is presented in 1.78:1 with snips from the movie in 1.33:1 Pan & Scan. An interview and  commentary from Sting is interspersed within the song. Here he reveals how he felt 'honoured' when he was to be given the chance to write and record several songs for a Disney flick.

 

DISC TWO:

Introduction

    A 1.30 minute introduction to Disc 2 by Producer Randy Fullmer and Director Mark Dindal. They pretend to sneak into the inner sanctum of the Disney Animation Studio for what promises to be a guided tour of the whole workings of the studio. Presented in a sort of madcap manner, these guys obviously enjoy each other's company, with plenty of good-natured ribbing and goofing around going on. Sets the scene for the rest of Disc 2.

    Disc 2 is divided into 8 main areas each with several menus under the main heading. Take a deep breath...here we go.

Get in the Groove

    This section features two sub-sections: the Studio Groove and the Animation Groove.

Studio Groove

    The Studio Groove is the abridged or best-of the bits found in the studio section of the disc. It runs for 23:50 minutes and covers pretty much everything you need to see if you don't have the time to wade through the whole disc. I like to refer to it as the '25 words or less version'. Summarises how the story is developed, the rough animation drawings are made, how the cleanup occurs, and the adding of sound to finish off.

Animation Groove

    The Animation Groove runs for 5:27 minutes and offers substantially less than the Studio Groove (maybe the 10 words or less version would be the best description). It offers side by side comparisons of one of the key scenes, showing how the rough drawing and the cleanup animation relate to the finished colour animation.

 

Development

Featurette - The Process

    The beginning of the process. This is how the characters are born and how the story evolves. Runs for 3:10 minutes.

Featurette - The Research Trip

    This is the same featurette that shows the team trip to Machu Pichu in Peru as found on Disc 1. Running time is 1:24 minutes.

Notes - Story Treatment

    Straight text on the screen. Several screens with a very detailed textual description of each scene as it will be played out. Virtually a novel on the screen.

Gallery - Visual Development

    300 or so images, shown initially as thumbnails, that are all able to be selected for viewing full screen. This is the way the story is initially constructed to give the animators something to work with. Broken into several areas, they detail The Palace, The City, The Jungle, and Pacha's Village among others.

Gallery - Kingdom of The Sun

    Kingdom of The Sun was the original title for The Emperor's New Groove. This section features a brief 13 second (I said brief didn't I!) introduction and 22 gallery photos showing some of the initial conceptual artwork.

 

Story and Editorial

Featurette - The Process

    Running for 5:08 minutes, this featurette shows the production team working out exactly how the story is going to progress.

Featurette - The Pitch

    There are three sub sections presented here, showing one of the story writers pitching his set of stills or storyboards with improvised sound effects to the director. We see two different versions of the Perfect World scene (the introduction with the Tom Jones song) and how the final storyboard version looked when complete. The three sections run for 1:49, 1:40, and 2:27 respectively. There is also a 32 second introduction from the production team.

Featurette - Putting it Up On the Reels

    This featurette runs for 2:47 minutes and is quite interesting. It shows the finished storyboards being projected in a theatrette, complete with audio effects. They are shown to the full production team to gauge their reaction to how the story is developing. Changes can then be made based on comments from the team.

Deleted Scenes

    There are three deleted scenes on offer. The first is the same scene that is present on Disc 1. All three have an introduction from the filmmakers explaining the reasons for the scene's removal. The first scene is a full colour scene (ie. it had been fully completed with audio and effects before its removal), the last two only reached the rough animation stage before they were removed.

    Destruction Of Pacha's village

    The same deleted scene that is found on Disc 1.

    Pacha's Family

    Running for over 6 minutes, this very boring scene shows some of the extended family of Pacha, including his father.

    Kuzcotopia

    Running for 3:20 minutes, this scene was how the film was originally intended to end with Kuzco completing his holiday home, but saving Pacha's village. Sting apparently suggested that this wasn't such a good idea as it still amounted to environmental vandalism and should be changed. It was. He obviously has a bit of pull with the producers.

 

Layouts and Backgrounds

    Four sub-sections are to found here, detailing layouts and backgrounds.

The Layouts and Backgrounds Departments

    This section details what the layout department does. The layout department is essentially the designer and cinematographer for the animated feature. They determine whether the feature will follow 'conventional' camera angles for example, and other technical aspects such as lighting. Running for 3:40 minutes, this is quite an interesting mini-featurette.

Inside Scene Planning

There are a further three sub-sub-sections present here.

    Scene Planning

    This featurette runs for 3:25 minutes and discusses how a particular scene is planned from start to finish. The scene displayed here is the opening number where the Emperor is grooving on the stage.

    Storyboard to Background Comparison

    A split screen featurette that shows the original storyboard and how the background looked in the finished product for comparison. The scene is the standard dining scene that appears throughout. Running time is 1:24 minutes.

    Gallery - Workbook

    An introduction running 20 seconds followed by 4 screens of around 30 different layout images.

Gallery - Layouts

    An introduction running 18 seconds followed by the best of the layout artwork compiled for the movie. There are 61 layouts in total. This gallery is one of the better ones that shows the layouts used in the film. Some make quite nice paintings or prints in their own right.

Gallery - Backgrounds and Colour Keys

    An introduction running for 15 seconds followed by probably the best gallery of the whole extras package. This gallery features the very colourful backgrounds used throughout the movie. There are a total of 117 backgrounds to select (all from thumbnails) and 143 colour keys (colour keys differ from backgrounds in that they also contain some of the characters that appear in those particular scenes).

 

Animation

Featurette - The Process

    The animation process is a featurette running for 4:24 minutes. This introductory feature outlines the different types of animation in a movie; Character animation, Cleanup animation, and CGI Props animation (ie. other bits that aren't characters that move).

Character Animation

There are three sub-sections for selection here.

    Character Voices

    Running for 5.00 minutes, this featurette shows the talent that performed the voices. There are interviews with the actors, including David Spade and Eartha Kitt.

    Background to Rough Animation Comparison

    Running for 1:23 minutes, this featurette shows the standard dinner scene with the completed backgrounds in one half of the split screen and the rough animation in the other.

    Character Design

    Each of the main characters have their own section here. They each have a series of animation tests playing to a musical score and  a number of design sketches in a gallery detailing what they are to look like. They run as follows; Kuzco - 5.17 minutes and 39 images, Pacha - 1:19 minutes and 22 images, Yzma - 2:10 minutes and 27 images, Kronk - 0:39 minutes and 24 images, Pacha's family - 12 images, and miscellaneous characters - 108 images.

    There is a slight shimmer to this screen around the sharp-lined edges that is slightly off-putting.

CGI Props

Running for 2:15 minutes, this brief feature looks at the other things that are in an animated feature that aren't characters but still require animation. In this instance, it is the cart that is hauled by Pacha that is examined.

Production Progression

    The only multi-angle featurette on the disc. With a 34 second introduction (mostly discussing how to operate the multi-angle thing), this featurette allows you to select from four different angles for the same scene (the dinner scene - you guessed right!). You can move through the Story Reel, The Rough Animation, The Clean-up Animation, or the Finished Product, all with the same audio track playing.

Cleanup Animation
    Introduction

    An introduction of 10 seconds that very quickly outlines how the cleanup process involves the rough drawn animations being re-drawn to fit to an exact model.

    Rough Animation to Cleanup Comparison

    The same old dinner scene again, split screen between the rough and the cleanup animations for easy comparison.

    Character Model Sheets

    The character model sheets show the exact specification that are to be used for each of the characters when they are redrawn in the cleanup animation stage. There are 9 screens of around 50 drawing sheets available here. All are selected from thumbnails.

Putting It All Together

    Three sub-sections detail the process of adding the colours to the final animation drawings. We're getting close to the end now.

Ink and Paint Compositing

    Even at this stage of the animation process, all that is finished is the cleaned-up drawn animation in black and white. Colour needs to be selected and added. This featurette deals with how colours are selected and applied. Running time 2:20 minutes.

Cleanup to Ink and Paint Comparison

    Running for 1:25, this shows the now-familiar dining scene, with a split screen comparing the cleaned-up animation and the now coloured animation.

Colour Models

    A 13 second introduction outlines what the colour models are and how they are used. You are able to select from 5 thumbnail artworks and display them full screen. They show the front and rear views of the completed colour characters. It is from here that the colours for all the animation drawings are sourced.

 

Music and Sound

    Three sub-sections deal with the all-important music and sound after the animation is complete. Almost done.

Music and Sound Effects

    Running for 5:05 minutes, this section deals with the post animation process of adding in the all-important music, sound effects, and dialogue. Shows an interesting clip where there is no sound at all, and boy is it boring. Makes you realise just how important the noisy bits really are.

Sting Music Video

    Exactly the same as the video clip offered on Disc 1.

Mixing Demo

    Now this is a really neat extra. With an intro of 43 seconds from the production team, this section then cuts away to a audio mixing desk. From here you can select to play either Dialogue, Music, Effects, None, or a mixture of any of the sound effects over the top of a particular scene (the one with Pacha and Kuzco on the rope bridge). The scene runs for 1:14 minutes and really showcases the power of DVD.


Publicity

Introduction

    A brief 55 second introduction from the filmmakers detailing what methods are available to them to try and help promote the film now that it is finished. After all, as they say, if people don't know about it, then how are they going to visit the cinema to watch it.

Trailer 1

    The same trailer that is presented on Disc 1.

Trailer 2

    This is the better of the two trailers. Presented in the correct aspect of 1.66:1 it is not 16x9 enhanced. It runs for 1:50 and presents the same general story approach to the other trailer but it does it faster, better, and loses none of the humour.

TV Spots

    The obligatory 30 second TV spots. All are 1.66:1 and non 16x9 enhanced.

Posters and Ad Campaign

    24 different posters that were used in the print media and billboards to advertise the flick. Quite a decent size and very colourful.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    The Emperor's New Groove - Ultimate Groove edition, much like the recent release of the stunning Shrek in Region 4, sees us miss out on the inclusion of the higher bitrate DTS soundtrack, which is disappointing. Apart from that, the discs are pretty much the same. From the reports I can find, the DTS track is slightly superior to the Dolby Digital 5.1, but given the nature of the movie, I'd favour the local disc in this instance on price alone.

    There is also a single disc version released in the US that features the contents of Disc 1 only (and at a cheaper price). I have not been able to find any reference to this being on sale in R4, so if you feel you can make do without the substantial extras afforded to the Ultimate Groove Edition, then this may be a viable alternative. You will also pick up a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Of course, with the dollar the way it is and postage, it is still cheaper to pick up the local dual disc edition.

Summary

    The Emperor's New Groove is an entertaining animated feature from Disney, one that seemed to escape all the hoopla that normally surrounds their releases. The kids will enjoy it, and the adults will not suffer too much from watching it (hey I watched it by myself!).

    The video is excellent and without fault. The audio is serviceable without being extraordinary.

    The extras are extraordinary (if not a little repetitive) in their quantity and quality. Some real effort has gone into this package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, November 07, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews
DVDAnswers - Warwick G

Comments (Add) NONE