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A Walt Disney Home Video Release
1999, 78 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Featuring the Voices of:  Tony Goldwyn, Glenn Close, Minnie Driver, Brian Blessed, Nigel Hawthorne, Lance Henriksen, Alex D. Linz, Rosie O'Donnell, Taylor Dempsey
List Price:  $34.99 USD, released 02/01/00
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.0, French 5.0, Spanish 5.0
Subtitles:  English, Spanish
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Music Video, Trivia Game, "Trashin’ The Camp" Behind-The-Scenes, Interactive Read-Along, Theatrical Trailer, Bonus Trailers, Interactive Menus, Scene Selection.

I know what you’re thinking – what, another version of Tarzan? But this one’s done by Disney! And done right. Tarzan is positively the best Disney animated movie to come out in quite a while. Fantastic artwork, engaging sound and a well-written plot come together into what they can rightly call a "masterpiece" or "instant classic". The movie starts off rather unusually with a musical montage of two events: Tarzan’s parents being shipwrecked on an island and building a tree house, and an ape family losing their young baby to a leopard. The movie actually begins when the ape mother hears a baby crying in the jungle and goes to investigate. Not to give anything further away, the movie follows Tarzan’s growth into a young man when he finally has contact with the outside world... and must figure out exactly what he wants to do. Excellent entertainment for the entire family.

Disney threw their previous DVD creation restrictions to the wind and provided an absolutely stunning THX-certified anamorphic video transfer. Listed as 1.66:1 on the packaging, the widescreen aspect ratio needed small black bars added to the sides to fit it into the 1.78:1 (16x9) format. The "overscan" on your television, even when properly calibrated, should completely remove these from view. Colors are rich and vibrant, as any good animated movie should be. Black levels are deep and steady, while brightness is even. Due mostly to the fact that Disney used the absolute highest possible bitrate, the entire film is sharp and detailed without any visible artifacting. The disc packs an impressive 7 gigabytes of data (impressive for an 88 minute film) onto dual layers, with the change occurring at 0:34.09, or 21 seconds into chapter 16. Equally notable, Tarzan has been divided into 36 chapters – that’s nearly one every two minutes!

The audio side of this disc is almost as excellent. The Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack is absolutely immersive with solid bass, crisp trebles and clear dialogue. Although there is no ".1" subwoofer track, all subwoofer material is reproduced on the other 5 channels. This is how it was presented in the theater and it seems to translate well to the home environment. However, all is not perfect. As you may have heard, a mastering error on Disney’s part reproduced some of the front-left speaker material in the rear-left channel, creating a lopsided surround soundfield. Though only really noticeable in a few scenes, it does mar what otherwise would have been reference-quality audio. It is hoped Disney will correct this problem and re-press the disc. Also on the DVD are full-fledged 5.0 soundtracks for French and Spanish languages – neither of which exhibit the aforementioned flaw. English and Spanish subtitles are included, as is English Closed Captioning.

Considering this isn’t a special edition – the only discs Disney usually graces with special features – Tarzan is quite decked out. First, there’s a children’s read-along (or read to yourself) storybook. This replicates the usual Disney paper/cassette versions. Although the television is not ideal for reading by, it was a thoughtful inclusion. The Phil Collins "Strangers Like Me" music video is there, in 2.0 audio and full-screen video. A short "Trashin’ The Camp" clip provides a behind-the-scenes look at recording the song. The original theatrical trailer is provided in full-screen video and (oddly) 5.1 audio, as is the very interesting sneak peak for the upcoming "Dinosaur" 3D computer-animated movie. As a bonus, 5 more trailers for Disney movies and games are packaged, though they are annoyingly run each time the disc is started. They can be skipped, but you have to hit the fast-forward button five times to get past them. Finally, there’s a Tarzan trivia game and static scene selection screens. A small DVD-ROM section provides a playable demo of the Tarzan action game, plus links to Disney websites.

The audio glitch, while not severe, should still be addressed by Disney. If they do and I receive a corrected disc this review will be modified to reflect it. Otherwise, this is a nearly reference-quality presentation of a great movie. Even with Disney’s high list price of $35 USD Tarzan is well worth it.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on March 6, 2000.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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