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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Brian Smith
Cast:
Harrison Chad, Brenda Grate, George Carlin, Brad Garrett, Estelle Harris, Lance Henriksen, Harrison Fahn, Glenn Close
Writing Credits:
Jim Kammerud, Brian Smith

Synopsis:
Experience the beginning of the legend with Disney's Tarzan II, a hilarious, all-new motion picture. Terk, Tantor and all your favorite characters are back, and they've brought along some new friends, in an action-packed adventure that's sure to delight the entire family.

Before he was King of the Jungle, Tarzan was an awkward young kid just trying to fit in. When one of his missteps puts his family in jeopardy, Tarzan decides they would be better of without him. His thrilling new journey brings his face-to-face with the mysterious Zugor, the most powerful force in the land. Together, Tarzan and Zugor discover that being different is not a weakness, and that friends and family are the greatest strength of all.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 71 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/14/2005

Bonus:
• “Tarzan’s Matter of Facts” Trivia Track
• “Gorilla Grumble” Game
• “Terk and Tantor’s Jungle Guide”
• “Bringing the Legend to Life” Featurette
• Music Video
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Tarzan II (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2005)

With 2005’s Tarzan II, we get another of Disney’s “midquels”. These aren’t sequels, as they don’t follow events that occur after the conclusion of the first flicks. They also don’t qualify as prequels, since they don’t take place prior to the original movies.

Instead, efforts like Tarzan II, The Lion King 1 1/2, and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas all take place during the primary films. Lion King 1 1/2 offers the cleverest twist of the bunch, as it shows the original’s events from a different perspective. Christmas provides tepid entertainment at best, as it does little to accentuate the pleasures of its inspiration.

As for Tarzan II, it focuses on the young Apeman (voiced by Harrison Chad) in his pre-pubescent state. He finds it hard to fit in with the jungle crowd, especially since most of the apes appear to disapprove of him. Tarzan’s mom (Glenn Close) and friends Terk (Brenda Grate) and Tantor (Harrison Fahn) try to reassure him, but he still feels the cool dissatisfaction of the others, mostly represented by leader Kerchak (Lance Henriksen).

This gets worse when Tarzan’s lack of ape-like skills requires his rescue and injures his mother. The gorillas believe he died, and when he returns, he overhears thoughts that his mom’s better off without him. Believing himself to be a threat to those he loves, Tarzan runs away and tries to find a new home. The rest of the movie follows his efforts and where they lead him.

For two reasons, we know Tarzan will end up back with his mom and the other gorillas. First of all, we saw the original flick so we know what happens to the adult character. Secondly, it’s a Disney movie; that fact makes his happy homecoming inevitable.

Sometimes it seems like half the Disney films tell us to be ourselves and don’t worry if we fit in with everyone else, while the other half teach us how to fit in and be like everybody else. Tarzan II sort of straddles the two domains, though it seems obvious that it’ll end with Tarzan’s realization that he should be himself.

That lack of creativity infuses all parts of Tarzan II. It borrows liberally from all sorts of other Disney flicks, with a primary emphasis on Lion King. We see many other influences as well.

This isn’t unusual for Disney films, as many of them feature fairly similar stories. Nonetheless, they usually find a way to break out and become distinctive. That never happens with the relentlessly pedestrian Tarzan II. It always feels like a retread and has nothing new to say.

At times Tarzan II comes across more like a spin-off than anything else. We spend an awful lot of time with secondary characters and don’t get all that many shots of Tarzan himself. Yeah, he still pops up more often than anyone else, but in a movie called Tarzan II, I expected more. Probably due to the thinness of the plot, the flick relies on these other personalities to carry the day. Too bad it doesn’t work, and it just creates an inconsistent, thin tale.

Ultimately, a flat story and a lack of inspiration become the downfall of Tarzan II. Would I call it a bad flick? No - I’ve seen some truly terribly Disney “direct to video” offerings and Tarzan II is considerably more entertaining than the likes of nonsense like Peter Pan II and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Nonetheless, the film never manages to become anything more than mediocre.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Tarzan II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As with most Disney animated releases, this one offered very positive visuals.

Across the board, sharpness looked excellent. The movie always displayed excellent clarity. At no point did I notice any signs of softness or fuzziness. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, and I also saw no edge enhancement. Print flaws remained totally absent.

Given the movie’s jungle setting, greens heavily dominated the palette. All hues were natural and warm. The movie featured these with good distinction and definition. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots demonstrated nice smoothness and detail. I thought the film lacked a certain sparkle to make it truly outstanding, but it was consistently positive and merited an “A-“.

While not as good as the visuals, the audio of Tarzan II worked acceptably well. The DVD boasted Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. I thought the DTS version seemed slightly more robust, but not to a substantial degree, especially when I accounted for differences in volume levels. Overall, the pair appeared very similar.

The soundfield opened things up to an acceptable degree. It featured a surprising amount of directional speech and also presented strong stereo imaging for the music. Effects broadened matters to present a nice sense of environment, and the occasional action scene added greater life. These helped create a reasonably wide soundscape that became reasonably involving.

Audio quality was perfectly solid. Speech consistently came across as natural and crisp, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and bold, as the score demonstrated good definition. Effects also showed nice range and clarity. Bass response was a little restrained but added some kick. The soundtracks worked fine for the material.

Though not packed with extras, Tarzan II adds a few components. The most substantial one comes from Tarzan’s Matter of Facts trivia track. This uses the subtitle stream to present facts about gorillas, elephants, and the other animals seen in the film as well as some information about locations, indigenous plants, and other related tidbits. Clearly oriented at the kiddies, this piece sticks with extremely basic notes that appear infrequently. You might activate this for yours kids to read as they watch the flick, but it won’t offer much for older viewers. It does feature lots of wacky asides that kids in the eight to 12 range will probably enjoy.

Next we find a five-minute and 32-second featurette called Bringing the Legend to Life. It includes the usual assortment of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear notes from co-writer/director Brian Smith, vocal artist Tiffany Evans, producer Carolyn Bates, singer/songwriter Phil Collins, and actors Harrison Chad, Estelle Harris, George Carlin, and Glenn Close. They chat about the inspiration for the film, cast and characters, the challenges of voice acting, the music. Unsurprisingly, this short program stays with a fluffy tone and doesn’t tell us a ton of good material, though the comments from the actors add some decent information.

We get a music video for Tiffany Evans’ “Who Am I?” Though it starts with a minor fantasy premise, the video ends up as just another combination of lip-synching and movie clips. It’s better than average for the form, but that doesn’t mean much, and it seems pretty lackluster.

Under “Games and Activities”, two elements appear. Gorilla Grumble requires you to remember patterns of beatings administered by two primate punks. It’s not a gimme, but it’s not that difficult either. Correct completion results in no concrete reward.

For the other component, we get Tantor and Terk’s Jungle Guide. Here you can select from 12 various jungle animals and learn factoids - and misfactoids from Tantor and Terk - about the critters. The information remains basic, so expect a program aimed at the kiddies. The goofy misinformation from Tantor and Terk is surprisingly amusing, though.

Inside the Sneak Peeks area, we get the usual allotment of ads. We find promos for Cinderella, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch 2, Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween, Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest, Kronk’s New Groove and Power Rangers SPD.

Occasionally the folks at Disney produce good “direct to video” efforts. Tarzan II isn’t one of them. It works better than many but that’s more of a reflection on the lackluster quality of so many of these releases. Tarzan II remains relentlessly average. The DVD presents very strong picture plus positive audio and a mix of minor supplements. Unless you or your kids just adore the Tarzan, leave this forgettable program on the shelves.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.44 Stars Number of Votes: 25
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