(review taken almost entirely from the review of the prior single disc release.)
The makers of "The Emperor's New Groove" were reportedly making a movie with a different tone and feel when Disney came in and desired some substancial reworking. The final film is often supremely hilarious and, after a few years and several repeat viewings, it's really grown to become one of my favorite Disney movies. However, I suppose the one piece of the puzzle that depends on whether or not one will enjoy it is - do you enjoy the humor of David Spade?
Personally, I think Spade's hilarious and he's as his best as the Emperor Kuzco, a spoiled brat who delights in getting his way all day. He fires his advisor, an old witch named Yzma(Eartha Kitt) and she ends up trying to kill him. In her attempt, though, she accidentially turns him into a Llama. Yzma is assisted by Kronk(Patrick Warburton, who was always hilarious as Puddy in "Seinfeld"), but Kronk fails in trying to get rid of Llama Kuzco.
Kuzco ends up on the cart of Pacha(John Goodman), the peasant whose home he threatened to take down and replace with a Summer home called "Kuzcotopia". Although Kuzco in Llama form is still a jerk, Pacha agrees to help him navigate the jungle after Kuzco finds himself in the middle of some trouble. The two march onwards across the country, trying to get Kuzco turned back into a human, while Pacha hopes to convince him not to turn his village into a Summer home.
There's two great things about "The Emperor's New Groove": Spade and Warburton. Thankfully, the filmmakers didn't try to block the "edge" from coming into this family film, which often allows Spade to turn his sarcasm volume up to 11. Warburton is hilarious with the exact opposite approach; his deadpan way of reading lines turns out to be often incredibly funny. Like his character on "Seinfeld", his throwaway delivery is priceless. Kitt and Goodman provide solid supporting performances, but their characters seem often there to set-up some of the funnier lines from Spade and Warburton.
There's only a few minor things that I didn't like as much about "Emperor"; there are some minutes here and there that drag as a few jokes fall a bit flat. The animation isn't quite as impressive as some of the other recent Disney films, but I suppose it works for the relaxed story.
Still, it's a light, enjoyable work that's sometimes very funny. I would have liked to have seen what the original version of the film was all about (it was titled "Kingdom of the Sun"), but hopefully we'll see some of the original version in the deleted scenes section of the eventual DVD release (update: nope.)
VIDEO: There has been an increasing amount of DVD transfers of animated movies that have been almost shockingly beautiful ("Tarzan", "Road To El Dorado".) "The Emperor's New Groove" is well-animated, but it's not quite as stunning visually as those two films. But, for the material, the anamorphic widescreen presentation is beautiful. Presented in the film's 1.66:1 aspect ratio, sharpness and detail are excellent and the animation is shown off well.
There's nothing in the way of print flaws - this is a clean presentation all the way through. I noticed a very tiny bit of pixelation once, but that was hardly noticable. Edge enhancement and other problems are absent.
Colors are bright, bold and well-saturated, looking stellar throughout the movie, as would be expected. It's not going to stun like the image quality did for "Dinosaur", "Tarzan" or even "Road To El Dorado", but it's definitely the best that "Emperor's New Groove" could look. Image quality on this release appears to be exactly the same as the prior release.
SOUND: "The Emperor's New Groove" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. Although many animated films have really begun to take advantage of surround sound to enhance the experience, "The Emperor's New Groove" really remains a rather basic comedy with no need for heavy activity.
There is some surround use throughout the movie, though, but it's mainly for John Debney's fun, entertaining score that really fits perfectly in tone with the film. Dialogue (and it's a pretty dialogue-driven picture) sounds clear and easily heard throughout the film. It's a fine sound presentation for the material, and provides good quality audio. The DTS sounded a bit crisper and more dynamic, but both audio options are perfectly enjoyable. Audio quality appears to be exactly the same as the prior release.
Commentary: This is a commentary from producer Randy Fullmer, director Mark Dindal, Art Director Colin Stimpson, Character Designer Joseph Moshier, Head Of Story Stephen Anderson, Kuzco Animator Nik Ramieri and Pacha Animator Bruce Smith. Director Dindal and Producer Fullmer are the main participants throughout the track, but different artists and individuals come in throughout the track to offer their roles and contributions to the movie.
The commentary was more enjoyable than the previous Disney animated commentary tracks that I've listened to lately, which were more heavily technical in nature. The contributors here are willing to joke about the proceedings and have a sense of humor about the process, which provides some entertaining moments between the addition of some informative and interesting comments about getting the movie together from the begining to the final animated product. There's little or nothing in the way of pauses of silence throughout the track, and it's a fun, enjoyable commentary that children and adults can enjoy and learn about the animation process from. I was rather dissapointed though, that there's really no discussion here about how the film had to be changed from a drama to a comedy. Since there is a disclaimer before the commentary, I thought there was going to be a ton of information about how the picture had to be changed, but that didn't happen. Still a good track, though.
Deleted Scene: As I was saying before, there was a great deal of discussion during the film's release about how it had to be changed in tone, so I would think there would be additional footage available - nope. We do get one deleted scene here, as soldiers stage a practice destruction of the village. Although the film does have some edgy moments, this is a bit too dark for the movie and was wisely taken out. Although not looking to be quite in a final format, it's not presented in rough stage, either.
Research Trip: This short featurette offers both the producer and director talking about their trip to Machu Pichu and a Llama farm to get ideas for the animated feature (1 min, 26 sec).
Character Voices This is a 5 minute featurette that introduces us to the actors who voice the main characters and their thoughts (as well as the thoughts of the animators) about their character.
Computer Generated Images: The animators lead us through the computer animation process for many of the computer-generated details that are included throughout "The Emperor's New Groove".(2 min, 20 sec).
Music Video: Rascal Flatts - "Walk The Llama Llama".
Also: "Emperor's Got Groove" interactive game, DVD-ROM content(game, website, etc).
Final Thoughts: This "New Groove" edition of "Emperor's New Groove" is a repackaging of the prior single disc release, so those who have either of the prior two DVD releases of this movie have no reason at all to upgrade to this new release. Those who don't already own the movie and are considering a purchase (and aren't interested in the supplements offered by the 2-DVD "Ultimate Edition") should seek a purchase, as the movie's hilarious.