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The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove(2000-2005)
The misadventures of an arrogant, egocentric young Emperor named Kuzco, who is transformed into a llama by his power-hungry advisor -- the devious diva Yzma. Stranded in a jungle, Kuzco's only chance to get back home and reclaim the high life rests with a good-hearted peasant named Pacha.
For more about The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove and the The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray release, see the The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Mark Dindal
Writers: Chris Williams, Michael LaBash (I), Mark Dindal, Tom Rogers, David Reynolds, Anthony Leondis
Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick, John Fiedler
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray Review
"Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 3, 2013
Disney is well aware of the appeal and reach of its catalog, down to the best and worst films in its canon. Titles like Cinderella and Peter Pan arrive separately and to great fanfare, while other titles shuffle onto shelves en masse, sans the red-carpet treatment afforded their Platinum and Diamond Edition brethren. In August 2012, it was The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, Pocahontas, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, The Tigger Movie and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, all released on the same day. Earlier this year, in March, it was The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Mulan, Mulan II, Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2. And now animation fans can add six more movies to their Blu-ray collection with Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Atlantis 2: Milo's Return, Lilo & Stitch, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, The Emperor's New Groove and Kronk's New Groove.
But something is amiss this go around. Once again, the original films and their direct-to-video sequels are paired on single BD-50 discs. This time, though, only Atlantis includes special features on the Blu-ray disc itself. Extras for Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove (and their sequels) are relegated to the bonus DVD copies in each 2-Movie set. Moreover, video and audio are vastly improved, but the transfers suffer from a number of (admittedly minor) issues. Combined with the displaced extras, it's hard to miss Disney's diminishing standards. Packing a 2-Movie Collection on a single disc is becoming more and more important to the studio; more important than delivering the fullest, most intuitive experience.
And the films? The theatrically released features are as divisive as ever. Some will find them decidedly desperate and unimaginative; a pale imitation of the Disney Renaissance greats. Others, like myself, will find a few flawed but fun, and one -- Lilo & Stitch -- a bonafide classic, seeing the trio as a not-so-distant spiritual extension to those same Renaissance classics. The direct-to-video sequels, though, aren't nearly as polished or entertaining on the whole, making the 2-Movie Collections hit or miss pairings primed to placate longtime fans and underwhelm the unconverted.
The Emperor's New Groove - 3/5
One of Disney Animation's most tumultuous productions, The Emperor's New Groove was practically doomed almost from the start. Ongoing delays, title changes, indecisiveness, crippling creative differences, jarring shifts in the film's tone, abysmal test screenings, executive threats, director departures, an eleventh hour overhaul and an ever-narrowing release window were just a few of the seemingly insurmountable hurdles incoming filmmaker Mark Dindal faced when signing onto the project, which makes the resulting film -- a watchable... strike that, fairly entertaining third-tier animated buddy comedy -- something of a miracle. It's not a classic miracle, or even a very remarkable one. But with big heart and bigger laughs, Disney's 40th animated feature is at least a good bit of fun, if not a touch too direct-to-video for a theatrically released film.
It isn't hard to identify Groove's issues. Emperor Kuzco (SNL alum David Spade), the arrogant Incan ruler who's transformed into a lowly llama, delivers a whole lot of snark and very little spark. Pacha (John Goodman), the broad-shouldered peasant who befriends the soon-to-be humbled emperor in new clothes, has even less of a backstory to build on than hastily developed Kuzco. And far too much time is spent with villains Yzma (Eartha Kitt), the treacherous advisor to the king, and Kronk (Patrick Warburton), her loyal stooge. The problems don't end there either. The script is a patchwork quilt of competing ideas. Many of the jokes and sight gags are much too self-aware. The point-A to point-B adventure suffers from SMCS (Saturday Morning Cartoon Syndrome). The animation promotes style and modern sensibility over everything else. (Think Hercules on a tinier scale.) And the film isn't all that cohesive, or the slightest bit surprising for that matter. Predictability rules supreme over Kuzco's return to the throne, and formula is heaped atop formula.
Maybe it's that adversity, though, that lends The Emperor's New Groove its strength. The voice performances, animation and script never quite gel or impress, but each one is energetic and eager to please, and that translates to excitement and enthusiasm you just can't bottle and reproduce. Even thirteen years after its release -- thirteen years in which the film's pop culture references have only aged -- I found myself laughing. Quiet laughs. Explosive laughs. Breath-stealing laughs. Groove is funny, and retains a breakneck pace that's murder on pacing but a godsend for comedy. Considering the film's many, many trials and tribulations, its various incarnations and its hurried to theaters release, it's a wonder any of it clicks, much less works. None of it saves The Emperor's New Groove from its most fundamental flaws and scattershot stylings, but as lesser Disney fare goes, there's plenty of room for its rapidfire wit, fits and flourishes in any animation fan's collection.
Kronk's New Groove - 2/5
Had Kronk's New Groove been about old habits dying hard, there might be more to say about Disney's direct-to-video sequel than, "eh, s'alright." More a bloated, 72-minute bonus short than a full-fledged followup to The Emperor's New Groove, the origin and further adventures of Yzma's henchman-turned-hero has a few laughs but quickly descends into aimlessness. Not that it had much potential to begin with. The first film was already too heavy on villainy; trailing after Kronk, lovable lug though he may be, doesn't offer much in the way of villainy but spends far too much time with a character better served in small helpings. It's even more disappointing with the original cast in tow, Spade and Goodman included. Animation offers near-unlimited possibilities, and yet we're handed a feature-length diversion instead of anything more substantial.
Warburton does what he can with what he's given, as does Kitt, Tracey Ullman, Wendie Malick, John Mahoney and an unexpectedly accomplished roster of supporting voices, new and old. The script simply isn't there, the jokes are tired and worn, the animation is a step down from its big screen counterpart, and the entire experience is groomed for children, and young children at that. Never mind the parents in the room who enjoyed The Emperor's New Groove, or older kids looking for something more than an early morning Disney Channel special. And it amounts to little more. Unremarkable and wholly forgettable, it's a mildly entertaining bonus feature at its best, a complete letdown at its worst. There are better ways to spend an hour -- even in Disney's already mediocre direct-to-video sequel canon -- and far better ways to spend a movie night with the family.
The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Emperor's New Groove - 3.5/5
The Emperor's New Groove sports a groovy 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that nevertheless has a few fundamental flaws of its own. Banding and aliasing are apparently a given in the latest crop of Disney 2-Movie Collections, and each one rears its head here as well. Neither is too substantial, but with a hint of macroblocking, ringing and contrast inconsistencies, it adds up to an initial (but soon easily overlooked) disappointment. Thankfully, the film has never looked better. Colors are bold and vivid (when the occasional uptick in brightness doesn't wash them out), primaries are loud and playful, and black levels are suitably inky. It only helps that the animators' line art is razor sharp -- almost to the point of exposing the limitations of animation in 1080p as the finest of lines are concerned -- and nary a detail escapes Disney's remaster. Ultimately, most viewers will applaud the transfer and scratch their heads at a less-than-perfect video score. But it doesn't take much scrutiny to spot the seams in the presentation, minor as each one may be.
Click here for full review and additional Emperor's New Groove screenshots.
Kronk's New Groove - 3.5/5
Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is decent enough, even though it falls prey to some of the same issues as its predecessor. There's a bit of banding here, a spot of aliasing there, and a crispness that both elevates and betrays the sequel's on-the-cheap source. Line art is sharp but prone to ringing, and the otherwise pristine image isn't free of anomalies by any means; some inherent, some not. Still, the movie is fittingly bright and colorful, with splashes of primary vibrance and satisfying blacks. There isn't a sliver of softness or a dusting of noise either, and this is most likely about as good as it will ever get.
Click here for full review and additional Kronk's New Groove screenshots.
The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Emperor's New Groove - 4/5
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track serves up a solid lossless mix; one that's only lessened by the film's relatively one-note sound design, which is as frugal and funky as the movie it accompanies. Rear speaker activity is light but effective, and what it lacks in immersion it makes up for whenever Groove indulges in bursts of comedy and song. The same could be said of LFE output, which is restrained but reliable, lending punch as needed and power on occasion. Through it all, voices are crystal clear and nicely prioritized, directionality is decidedly decent, pans are smooth and dynamics are on point. No, The Emperor's New Groove isn't a sonic powerhouse. It's simply a breezy, fully capable, seemingly effortless presentation of its source, and in this case, that's a very good thing.
Kronk's New Groove - 3.5/5
Relatively flat and front-heavy, Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track provides a solid presentation of the sequel's sound design, without much in the way of issues or memorable moments. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, the soundscape is well supported, and LFE output is decent, particularly considering the featherweight story it clings to. The rear speakers have some welcome fun, inconsequential as it is, and the small-screen sonic experience delivers on the few promises it makes. No real complaints here; no high praise either.
The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 2-Movie Collection release of The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove is a 3-disc set. However, in what has now become Disney's practice, the feature films are housed on a single BD-50, with two standard DVDs -- one for each movie -- rounding out the set. It's far from perfect; some will deem it convenient, others an irritation.
Unfortunately, The Emperor's New Groove and its sequel's special features aren't included on the films' Blu-ray disc; only on the bonus DVD copies. That isn't a huge problem when it comes to the production featurettes, behind-the-scenes material, deleted scenes and other extras, but is a problem when it comes to the first film's audio commentary, which can only be listened to when viewing the DVD edition of the film. Thus the reduced supplements score. Saving disc space to accommodate two films and lossless tracks was no doubt the motivation, but it only serves to highlight just how inadequate the current 2-Movie Collection setup can be.
The Emperor's New Groove / Kronk's New Groove Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Does The Emperor's New Groove leave something to be desired? Absolutely. Quite a lot actually. But that doesn't mean it isn't without charisma. Despite making a very long, oh so terrible trek through development hell, it's a surprisingly functional, even hilarious buddy comedy, with just enough personality to overshadow its deeper character flaws. Disney's Blu-ray release is better, with above average video and solid lossless audio; its only outright disappointment being its barebones supplemental package, which features none of the extras included on the 2001 Collector's Edition DVD.
Then there's Kronk's New Groove, which amounts to disposable children's entertainment. Nothing more. It misses almost every opportunity that comes its way, and the majority of returning cast members are reduced to supporting players, which is a grave mistake. Its Blu-ray incarnation is better, thanks to a solid AV presentation, but there isn't a lot of value here, save the fact that the sequel is attached to The Emperor's New Groove.
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