When it comes to animated Disney features, not every film is a bonafide classic. Even now, films like The Black Cauldron, Oliver and Company, and their last hand-drawn venture (The Princess and the Frog) barely made its budget back. Although I suppose a worldwide gross of $267 million is nothing to frown about. Most of these films may have performed poorly in theaters, but manage to find a new life on home video. While I was one of the few who caught The Emperor’s New Groove on the big screen, it’s been able to find its audience in the afterlife and is making its Blu-ray debut this week. For better and worse, its direct-to-video sequel — Kronk’s New Groove — is also attached. Something Disney has been doing a lot of lately with their lesser efforts.
Both Grooves find their way onto Blu-ray on a 50GB disc with absolutely no features giving both films enough wiggle room to keep from cramping the picture. (Although there is an audio commentary on Emperor’s included DVD copy.) Emperor comes in a 1.68:1 aspect ratio with Kronk in a screen-filling 1.78. Having been a theatrical release, Emperor looks the best of the two, but they both come with a few anomalies along the way. Emperor’s biggest flaw may be some minor aliasing in the finer lines. Notably when characters are far away and moving around quickly. I didn’t see any banding here and the colors are as bright and crisp as you’d expect. The same can be said for Kronk’s transfer, but here there is some faint banding. It’s pretty light and you’d probably only really notice it if you’re paying close attention or have your color turned up just a little too high. Aside from that, there’s not really much in the way of bad and of course, the prints are as pristine as you’d expect from a Disney release.
Both films feature 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks and sound as lively as they should considering they feature a few original songs. Emperor manages to come out on top again with Kronk never finding a real groove but considering its origin should not come as a surprise. The opening number of Emperor really kicks things off on a high note with the Tom Jones sung “Perfect World,” horns blaring and background singers wailing. When it comes to Kronk, the only song you’ll even remember being in it is courtesy of Eartha Kitt singing “Feel Like a Million.” Surrounds are kept to a minimum in both, but resonate more during Emperor, what little there is in Kronk are usually part of musical cues more than environmental. Neither are meant to be assaults on the senses, so thankfully, dialogue is clean and clear, with directionality managing to shine through surprisingly during both.
Time spent with Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) and Yzma’s (Kitt) flavor of the month henchman Kronk (David Warburton) is better made in Emperor’s New Groove. Both films are a silly good time, but Kronk’s New Groove is centered around a main character who overstays his welcome in the limelight with a plot as minimal as you’d expect in a Disney sequel. There’s a surprising amount of head scratching film references ranging from Lord of the Rings, Evita, and A Few Good Men. Through Kronk’s New Groove, all Kronk wants is a big thumbs up from his flaring-nostrils-of-rejection Papi (John Mahoney), but as far as this double feature Blu-ray goes, it gets at least one, simply for Emperor’s New Groove.
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