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Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Brian Blessed, Nigel Hawthorne, Lance Henriksen, Wayne Knight, Alex D. Linz, Rosie O'Donnell, Taylor Dempsey, Jason Marsden
Writing Credits:
Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel, "Tarzan of the Apes"), Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White, Evelyn Gabai, Henry Mayo, Ned Teitelbaum

An immortal legend. As you've only imagined.

Swing into action and adventure with Disney's original classic, Tarzan, packed with fun-filled bonus features and award-winning music such as the memorable "You'll Be In My Heart" and "Trashin' The Camp." Disney's magnificent animated adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's story of the ape man begins deep within the jungle when baby Tarzan is adopted by a family of gorillas. Even though he is shunned as a "hairless wonder" by their leader, Tarzan is accepted by the gorillas and raised as one of their own. Together with his wisecracking ape buddy Terk and neurotic elephant pal Tantor, Tarzan learns how to surf and swing through the trees and survive in the animal kingdom. His "Two Worlds" collide with the arrival of humans, forcing Tarzan to choose between a civilized life with the beautiful Jane and the life he knows and loves with his gorilla family. Filled with humor, heart, and hilarious fun, Tarzan is an unforgettable adventure you'll watch again and again.

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$34.361 million on 3005 screens.
Domestic Gross
$171.085 million.

Rated G

Widescreen 1.66:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0
French Dolby Digital 5.0

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 10/18/2005

• Audio Commentary with Producer Bonnie Arnold and Directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Videos
• “Terk’s Tree Surfing Challenge”
• DisneyPedia: Living in the Jungle
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Tarzan: Special Edition (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2006)

1999's Tarzan established for almost the last time that Disney could have a hit with an animated film not created by Pixar. Since the enormous success of The Lion King in 1994, Disney's animated films had been essentially treading water prior to Tarzan, with the exceptions of Pixar offerings Toy Story in 1995 and A Bug's Life in 1998.

Without those hits, Disney's animated pictures were stuck in a rut; the movies made between the $99 million of Hercules in 1997 and $141 million with Pocahontas in 1995. That ain't chicken feed, but after the ecstatic $312 million high of The Lion King - and the raised expectations that came with that hit, these other totals didn't quite cut it.

Which was a shame, because some of those movies were quite good. I really liked 1996's Hunchback of Notre Dame, which seemed surprisingly daring and dark. Although I didn't initially care for either Pocahontas or Hercules, I've come to appreciate and enjoy both of them in the interim.

Since I dig Disney animated films, I was happy to see the success of Tarzan with its $170 million take. That's not because I care about how much money the studio makes. No, I took an interest in how these movies fared because I feared that if they continued to perform below expectations, Disney would savage their animation department and we'd cease to see the unprecedented output that the 1990s witnessed. Consider this: Disney released a traditionally animated film every year during that decade except for 1993. In no other decade did they produce so many full-length movies, and that doesn't even factor in the three Pixar efforts, two stop-motion features, and traditional but cheap programs like The Goofy Movie.

So my interest in the success of Tarzan related to more than just a desire to see a good movie. Not that any of this negates the fact that Tarzan indeed is a strong effort. The film does nothing particularly new or fresh. We get the usual adventures and the usual kooky sidekicks and the usual love interest and the usual menacing villain. Actually, the movie bears more than a passing resemblance to Pocahontas in that both films show greedy white dudes who want to exploit the natural resources - and inhabitants - of a mysterious (to them) new territory. We also see the wonders of those lands come to life through the eyes of some more open-minded - and romantically-appealing - visitors.

Despite those similarities, Tarzan in no way feels like Pocahontas, which was much more somber and serious. Tarzan has some moments of definite drama - quite a few of them, really - but it tends to stay more light-hearted than Pocahontas. I think that's because it actually shows a viability to the lifestyles lived by both Tarzan and Jane. We see the positives and negatives of each person's background, whereas in the older film we are hit over the hit with the (supposed) superiority of Pocahontas' culture. I found this lack of obsessive political correctness in Tarzan to be a relief.

Ultimately I feel that while Tarzan shows Disney as they do what Disney does best, it's not the best Disney's done. As a film, it's hard to find real faults, but it's also difficult to discern special pleasures. The movie offers a more kinetic animation experience than usual - Tarzan really flies about that jungle! - but little otherwise sets the film apart from other pictures.

This means that our main characters are strong, but not extremely compelling or memorable. Tony Goldwyn and Minnie Driver do well as Tarzan and Jane, respectively, but not anything more than that. Brian Blessed is fine as underdeveloped villain Clayton - it's hard to believe Blessed's the same guy who voiced Boss Nass in The Phantom Menace - but the thinness of the character is an issue. Glenn Close and Lance Henriksen are also very good as Tarzan's de facto parents, but I just can't say that I found them to be very memorable.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Tarzan as it relates to vocal performances comes from the fact that Rosie O'Donnell's work as Tarzan's gorilla buddy Terk didn't make me want to kill myself - or anyone else, for that matter. I used to like O'Donnell, but just like Jay Leno, once she got a talk show she became completely insufferable, so I feared her presence in Tarzan would ruin it. Happily, that's not the case. While I can't say I liked her performance, she generally seems unobtrusive and doesn't have much of an affect on the film either way. That's a victory, I suppose.

Hmm... I'm starting to suspect that my comments about Tarzan may indicate a dislike of the film, but that's not the case. Overall I find it to be exciting, funny and enjoyable, and it continues a long line of very fine Disney animated films. My reserved tone comes from the high expectations with which I tend to greet these releases, and the fact that I just don't think Tarzan matches up with Disney's best efforts. It's a firmly middle-of-the-pack offering from them, which still tops almost every animated film from studios not named Disney.

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

Tarzan appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie offered a consistently terrific visual experience.

Sharpness looked absolutely immaculate from start to finish; I never noticed the slightest amount of softness or haziness at any point. Moire effects and jagged edges were also blissfully absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. The print itself appeared perfectly clean and smooth; I saw no signs of grain, speckles, scratches, nicks, hairs or other defects.

Colors were absolutely wondrous, and they displayed fabulous depth, clarity, and vivacity. Jungle greens dominated, but we also got lovely yellows from Jane’s dress and some fiery reds during the climax. All looked dynamic and strong. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but not too thick. I found no reason to complain, as this was an excellent transfer.

Matters became more complex when I examined the audio of Tarzan. This title has had a rough history on DVD. The original movie-only DVD had a problem in which it reversed the front and rear left channels. Disney fixed that for the original Collector’s Edition DVD but the disc still received complaints due to the presence of only a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. Folks griped because there was no dedicated LFE channel for that mix.

For this 2005 DVD, Disney finally changed the situation. In addition to the original Dolby Digital 5.0 track, this one also included a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. As one might expect, the major difference stemmed from the reproduction of low-end material, as the 5.1 track presented far stronger bass response. However, that didn’t need to be the case.

Normally when you listen to a 5.0 soundtrack – or 2.0, or 1.0 – your receiver will take the low-end information and send it to the subwoofer on its own. However, that didn’t occur for the 5.0 mix of Tarzan because the DVD presented it as a 5.1 track. Your DVD and your receiver believe that Tarzan presented two 5.1 streams.

If you’re scratching your head, here’s the scoop. Both mixes have been encoded as 5.1; that’s what the DVD read and my receiver displayed. However, the 5.0 track simply lopped off the subwoofer information. That meant nothing went to that speaker, and the 5.0 version lacked substantial low-end. Oh, some bass still appeared, but it all came from the main channels and it lacked much impact.

This meant that the 5.1 track offered a much stronger experience. For both, the soundfield seemed engulfing and active, with a nicely spatial image that offered well-placed sounds. The rears provided a good level of information and were active participants in the mix. The various action scenes worked best, but the general ambience was also smooth and well-defined.

Sound quality seemed excellent. Dialogue was consistently clear and natural. Lines seemed neatly integrated with the image, something that's not always easy to do in animation. The music was smooth and well-rounded, while effects were realistic and detailed, with some very good bass at times.

If you listened to the 5.1 mix, that is. That version offered a strong auditory experience and merited an “A-“. For the 5.0 track, the diminished low-end wasn’t a fatal flaw, but that mix lacked much impact and would only deserve a “B-“.

What went wrong? The original disc did it right and offered an actual 5.0 mix that sent information to the subwoofer, but here someone screwed up and lopped off the bass. In any case, the new one’s 5.1 track worked well and was at least as good – if not better – than the original release’s audio.

One area in which the 2005 DVD fails to live up to the CE relates to extras. The 2005 version includes some of the old supplements – and a few new ones – but loses many pieces from the CE. I’ll note new components with an asterisk, so if you see no star, that means the element also appears on the original two-disc set.

We start with a retread: an audio commentary from producer Bonnie Arnold and directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They dig into a wealth of issues such as the music and working with Phil Collins, characters and story, the performances of the voice actors and casting, depictions of animals and the jungle, and animation concerns/technical details like the “Deep Canvas” process.

In other words, they cover pretty much everything we’d expect from this sort of track. They also add decent humor and interact in a lively manner. I think we find more praise than I’d like, but I still can’t offer too many complaints about this informative discussion.

Called “Abandoned Sequences” on the original DVD, we find three deleted scenes. These start with a one-minute and 50-second introduction from Bonnie Arnold as she discusses the reasons these segments didn't make the cut. We get "Alternate Opening" (two minutes, 15 seconds); "Terk Finds the Human Camp" (two minutes, 15 seconds); and "Riverboat Fight" (three minutes, 35 seconds). All exist in the realm of storyreels, as they never made it past the film’s planning stages. In the absence of actual deleted animation, these offer a great look at other directions the movie might have taken.

Under the banner of “Music and More”, three music videos appear. We find Phil Collins’ "You'll Be In My Heart", which offers an odd clip. Collins does the usual lip-synching, but in an unconventional manner, with some high-tech effects involved. This video also barely relates the existence of the film; we see a rough sketch of Tarzan as graffiti in one scene, and some human participants replicate the "hand-joining" facet of the movie, but these are almost subliminal forms of promotion. One could easily watch this four-minute and 18-second clip and not know it has a connection to Tarzan.

Such is not the case with the video for Collins’ "Strangers Like Me". This offers a three-minute clip that pretty closely follows the usual Disney "video for a song from an animated movie" formula: lots of fairly blah shots of lip-synching intercut with many scenes from the film itself. Yawn.

An alternate version of “Strangers” appears as well via a take by *Everlife. This three-minute, 30-second piece shows the group of rockin’ babes (imagine younger, hotter Joan Jetts) as they lip-synch in a live setting; we also get some movie snippets. They’re more attractive than Collins, but it’s a boring video, and their cover’s a glossy attempt at edgy rock Disney-style. That ain’t good. (And what’s with the band’s name? It makes them sound like a Christian rock group.)

“Music and More” ends with Studio Sessions With Phil Collins and 'N Sync, a two-minute and five-second snippet that combines shots of those improbable partners recording in the studio with some interview clips. If you just can't get enough of those teeny-bopper boy bands, you'll love this. As for me, I thought it was a bit dull.

Under “Games and Activities”, we find two separate components. *Terk’s Tree-Surfing Challenge breaks into three smaller areas. It gives us “Jungle Memory”, “Banana Round-Up” and “Clayton’s Trap”. The first requires you to remember movie characters, while the second offers a simple reflex game. “Trap” combines the two. None of them are challenging or much fun.

“Games and Activities” also presents a *DisneyPedia entry called “Living in the Jungle”. Similar features appear on other DVDs, as this teaches us about various animals like gorillas, leopards, baboons, and elephants. The five-minute and 54-second program should offer minor education for the kiddies.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get clips for Lady and the Tramp, The Wild Shaggy Dog, Valiant, and Studio Ghibli Films. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with ads for Old Yeller, Kronk’s New Groove, Power Rangers SPD, Kermit’s 50th Anniversary, and Toy Story 2.

Tarzan isn't a perfect movie or a perfect DVD. However, it's solid on both accounts. The film itself seems to improve with extra viewings, and it looks and sounds absolutely fantastic on this DVD. A few good supplements round out the set, with a very nice audio commentary as the highlight.

If you don’t already have the prior Collector’s Edition of Tarzan, I’d go with this one. However, those who possess the previous 2-DVD package won’t find much reason to repurchase the film. It offered similar picture and audio, and it also included many more supplements. It remains the best Tarzan out there.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6363 Stars Number of Votes: 11
3 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main