Interactive game - Aladar's Adventure & Dinosearch
Disney/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 82 mins .
PG . PAL
Come with me if you want to live.
It was the time when the special editions of the Star Wars trilogy were being formulated and yours truly was running a Star Wars web site called RED 5. The page was becoming more and more popular by the day leading up to the release date of these revamped movies and it all happened so quickly that I was soon emailing a young man by the name of Mark Anthony Austin.
You see, Mark was working at ILM as one of the creature animators for the special edition of Star Wars, particularly the scenes involving the scurriers at the entrance to Mos Eisley and the dewbacks in the extended droid search scene. Mark was very critical of his work, his rushed work, but to me it looked pretty much spectacular. His greatest claim to fame at the time was that he donned the Bobe Fett uniform and can be seen in the added Jabba scene in A New Hope. And this guy was talking to me.
Alas, ILM didn't seem to be the place for him and he soon let me know that he was moving to Disney to work on a project for the next five years called Dinosaur, a completely CG animated Disney adventure, the likes of which have never been seen before. He was to work on the title character of Aladar, as the lead supervising animator and it was only a few days ago that I finally got to see the fruits of his labour.
Those 5 years produced a tale about a young Iguanadon named Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) whose adventure begins whilst he is still encased in his unhatched egg. A series of journeys lands his egg within a lemur nesting ground. He is adopted as one of their own and soon grows to a full size reptile. When a meteor destroys their tranquil island, Aladar and a family of lemurs must begin their search for a new home, only to come across the last of the remaining dinosaurs on a similar trek.
Realistic looking fur - finally.
This caravan is led by Kron (Samuel E. Wright), sister of Neera (Julianna Marguiles) and resident Aladar love interest. From here it is a battle against time, against leadership and against two Carnotaurs on the trail of food to get to the dinosaur nesting ground.
Whilst a little scarier than their normal PG rated efforts, Disney have manufactured an excellent tale here for all the family to enjoy with some of the most breathtaking CG animation seen to date that is seemlessly composited in with beautiful real life footage of various scenery.
With the likes of Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life under their belt, Disney have made a name for themselves as creating the best DVD transfers currently available on the market. Being able to skip the telecine part of the transfer process and go direct from digital to digital allows the resulting image to look magnificent and better than the celluloid equivalent. Dinosaur is the next addition to that family with "Pure Digital Magic" being achieved once again.
The image is simply flawless and breathtaking from scene to scene. It is the first time such photorealism has been achieved and Mark Austin made a point of noting that in his most recent email to me that the software written to achieve this has been years in the making. Needless to say, the next application will be a step even closer to reality.
The amount of detail in the image really does show what DVD is capable of and it also screams for this movie to be enjoyed on as big a screen as you can get your hands on. Legally of course. Black level is perfection itself, color saturation is superb, sharpness can't get any sharper and if ever your DVD player and TV were having the best digital sex possible, this would be it.
Do you come here often
To compliment the visual splendour of the movie, the audio soundtrack is probably going to give you the best it can from a 384 Kb/s 5.1 soundtrack. This is the lowest of lowest in the 5.1 domain yet still provides an excellent soundtrack for that ear candy we all crave from time to time.
The front sound stage is the crux of the soundtrack here and it is rendered beautifully from left, through centre and across to the right channel. A very seemless blend indeed. When the surrounds come into play, they also seemlessly come to the fore and never once provide that jarring head turning effect. Subtlety is the word here folks and even though the surrounds are very active, it's more of an envelopment than a distraction. You are thrown into the mix here and never want to leave.
Bass is the final element in this recording and it is ever present. If Danoz Direct ever released a work out video for your subwoofer, this would be it, the Bass-doer. The amp had to be turned off for the next hour just so it could catch its breath.
In comparison to the 2-disc collectors edition set in the US, we seem to have been given the Calista version. Disney have asked what they are doing wrong and we have told them so hopefully future releases will see a more consistent approach for all regions.
First up is an audio commentary by directors Eric Leighton and Ralph Zondag, Vis F/X supervisor Neil Krepala and DigiFX supervisor Neil Eskuri. A little too technical for my liking because an audio commentary makes it hard to explain the techniques without any visual aid.
The feature that brings a whole collection of extras together is the fossil feature that operates in the same fashion as the "white-rabbit" feature in the Matrix. Certain scenes from the movie will have a fossil skull appear in the top left corner and selecting this fossil will take you to storyboard comparisons, deleted scenes, behind the scenes, recording sessions, animatics and an alternate ending.
Hello there Mr Raptor
Closing out the collection are 2 interactive games "Aladar's Adventure" and "Dinosearch" that offer little in terms of keeping your interest, along with a Dinopedia section about select species from the movie. Throw in a theatrical trailer and a music video and you're done. This deserved a little more but it seemed to be targetted to a younger audience.
Jurassic Park this may not be and rightly so. It's a kids movie first and foremost and it's simplicity relates to the tots well. As an adult, the appeal is also there with it's stunning visuals and richter scale tripping soundtrack that will be on the demo shelf for many months, years even, to come.
The simplicity in the extras and that lack of the US DTS soundtrack seem to deter me from a fully fledged recommendation. It's a keeper though.