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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Dutch: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Production notes
  • Music video - Elton John
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Documentaries - Basics of Animation

The Road to El Dorado

Dreamworks/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 89 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Four years in the making by Dreamworks, with a talented cast of voices, and an award winning team of musical talent comes an animated film telling the tale of two rogues, Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh), trying to make their fortune the easy way.

Winning a map to the legendary city of El Dorado in a game with loaded dice, the two make there getaway and end up trapped on a ship making its way to conquer the New World, under the command of Cortez. A quick escape, and longboat journey through a tropical storm, and our unlikely heroes are washed up onto a beachy shore - a beachy shore with landmarks similar to those on the map.

The two follow their treasure map, at last coming upon the fabled City of Gold, where the local inhabitants mistake them for gods. But can Tulio and Miguel keep up the masquerade and get away with the gold before the Chief and Tzekel-Kan catch on to their ruse?

""You fight like my sister!" - Miguel
"I've fought your sister. That's a compliment!" - Tulio"

  Video
Contract

It would not surprise me in the slightest to learn that DVD had been created to preserve and showcase animated films. Quite simply, it's amazing. Colours are bright and vibrant, leaping out from the screen. Detail is perfect, even down the deliberate motion blur in some sections of the animation - if you'd like to recreate Tzekel-Kan's book, just hit the pause button and start sketching - it's that good.

Throughout the entirety of the film, I only noticed one glitch, involving some nasty pixellation during a wipe from one shot to the next in the musical number "It's Tough to Be a God". It's over with very quickly, and probably would have gone unnoticed if I was not in the habit of looking for problems. It's entirely possible it was simply minor damage to my disc - I did need to stop and clean the disc before my 515 would finish the film. I'll update this in a day or two, when I've had the opportunity to check out a second copy of the disc - so stay tuned.

With no hint of film grain, dirt or noise, you'd almost swear your DVD player was rendering the film real time for you.

Update: OK, I've had a chance to examine another instance of this disc, and I'm sorry to say the glitch is still present. But like I said, it's small and gone by the time you've noticed something was wrong - if you notice it at all.

  Audio
Contract

There are times when I'm glad I went to the expense of buying a 5.1 sound system, and watching this film was one of them. Elton John's and Hans Zimmer's fantastic soundtrack will draw you into the film, and the 5.1 mix means it will do so with ease, helping you to become one with the music. Dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, and well positioned.

When it boils down to it, a good soundtrack is one that tends to go un-noticed, because noticing it would divert your attention from where it should be focused - the movie. That's precisely what El Dorado provides - a soundtrack that simply enhances the events on screen.

  Extras
Contract

An interesting collection of extras:

  • Director's Commentary - Commentaries tend to vary in entertainment and interest. This particular commentary, with El Dorado's two directors, Don Paul and Bibo Bergeron, is somewhat middle of the road - interesting in some parts, entertaining in others, but falling flat at times. They definitely have a lot to say, speaking from the moment the clouds of the Dreamworks promo hit the screen until well into the end credits - and an animated film has a lot of end credits.

    It's worth listening to once, but with the film soundtrack playing quietly in the background you may find your hearing switching focus, concentrating more on the film, than it's directors.

  • Behind the Scenes Featurette - it was with some trepidation that I hit the "Enter" button on this option, having been led by many DVDs in the past to expect a 7 minute piece that contained a couple of interview questions with a couple of the cast and crew, but that was at least half made up of footage from the film. You can imagine my delight when I find a 25 minute "Making of" that interviews most of the key people involved with the films - actors, directors, producers, and musical talent. In addition, there's a smattering of footage from the voice recording sessions of the actors. Well worth the time, and leaves you wanting to see more.
  • Basics of Animation - I found the title of this extra somewhat misleading, as it's not so much about how animation is created. Instead, it's a discussion of the colour styles used in the film, showing how the colour of a scene would be presented, in a manner similar to storyboarding. Running at 40 minutes, with a scene by scene breakdown, this is not likely to be something you'll watch more than once - unless, of course, you're a budding animater yourself.
  • Music Video - a music video of one of the songs used in the film, "Someday Out of the Blue", in which we get to see Elton in his first ever animated appearance.
  • Theatrical Trailer - the American theatrical trailer, complete with green MPAA rating screen.

  Overall  
Contract

You can probably tell that I enjoyed The Road to El Dorado. Having seen it during it's theatrical release last year, I leapt at the opportunity to watch and review the DVD, expecting a quality package from Dreamworks. And that's precisely what we've got (one minor glitch aside).

Some people may think, "Oh, it's a cartoon, it's for kids." Now while it may be animated, and will most likely appeal to children (why can I see action figures when I look at Altivo and the armadillo?) this is no Disney film. The script is very tight, and the banter between Kline and Branagh is simply magic. Why no one has thought to put them both in the same film before, I'll never know.

So, in closing - get the disc!

Update: A kind reader (thanks Adrian!) pointed out that Kline and Branagh were both in Wild, Wild West together, albeit on opposing sides.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=452
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      And I quote...
    "I'll bet two pasedas that you'll love El Dorado. ...you'd almost swear your DVD player was rendering the film real time for you."
    - Andrew MacLennan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-515
    • TV:
          Philips 29PT6361
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2700
    • Speakers:
          Aaron ATS-5
    • Centre Speaker:
          Aaron CC-240
    • Surrounds:
          Aaron SS-120
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-240
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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