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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Tarzan: Special Edition (1999)

"You know, I've been thinking lately that Tarzan may be some sub-species of elephant."
- Tantor (Wayne Knight)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 02, 2005

Stars: Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver
Other Stars: Glenn Close, Wayne Knight, Rosie O'Donnell, Brian Blessed
Director: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:28m:18s
Release Date: October 18, 2005
UPC: 786936264524
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

During the 20th century, the character of Tarzan has appeared in film in many different styles of films, from the early serial-type pictures to theatrical presentations like 1984's Greystoke. The most popular Tarzan was Johnny Weissmuller, but many different actors have donned the loin cloth and swung from jungle trees through the years. In 1999, Disney decided the time was right to create an animated version of the character, and the film was a nice success for the studio, whose hand-drawn animated films were on their way out of the House of Mouse's future plans.

As with most of Disney's hand-drawn fare, Tarzan was an animated musical, with most of the music here performed by Phil Collins. In winning the Academy Award for Best Song for You'll Be in My Heart, this singer/songwriter followed in the footsteps of fellow pop star Elton John, who won for his work in Disney's The Lion King. Music has always played a huge part in classic Disney animated features, and Tarzan would prove to be the last of these projects to feature such Oscar-caliber music.

Disney's storyline stays fairly true to the original tale that was penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs. As a baby, Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn) has been raised by apes in the jungle and, naturally knows nothing about being a human, or what occurs in the "real world." His best friend is Terk (Rosie O'Donnell), a witty, troublemaking ape who is like a sister to him. Now a grown man, Tarzan accidentally stumbles across a hunter named Clayton (Brian Blessed) and his female companion Jane (Minnie Driver). When Tarzan and Jane meet, it is initially awkward; soon, this fair maiden falls in love with the ape-man, but their new love is being challenged by Clayton and his dastardly intentions for our hero's jungle home.

Most of the voice talent does solid work, yet these actors aren't as compelling as those in Disney's animated classics of the 1990s. Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) makes a good Tarzan, having enough of a "manly" voice for the job, and Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting) puts her English accent to work as the prissy Jane. It's also nice to hear Brian Blessed's (Flash Gordon) voice, giving Clayton that extra something that makes for a good Disney villain. Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction) is also good as Kala, but I personally could have done without the annoying Rosie O'Donnell (A League of Their Own), who's just too much here.

I was amazed that I could tolerate, even enjoy, Phil Collins original songs. This music just seems to go perfectly with what's happening on screen, adding to the excitement of Tarzan's swinging escapades. You'll Be in My Heart is definitely worthy of the Oscar it won, but the rest of the tunes here are worth a listen as well.

One of Tarzan's gleaming qualities is just how action-packed it is. The film will keep you on the edge of your seat as Tarzan soars through the jungle, jumping from tree-to-tree in an effortless manner. The animation here is superb, often taking us on a first-person journey with Tarzan, who travels with break-neck speed. This is some of the fastest, most intense animated movement we've ever seen, and as an action film, Tarzan definitely delivers.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is virtually identical to that on the "collector's edition," but that's a good thing, since there wasn't much room for improvement to begin with. This is as invigorating a visual experience as you'll get in a hand-drawn animated film, with the highlight of the presentation being the numerous, nearly first-person views of Tarzan as he's bouncing off the tree-tops and gliding through the jungle. The color sceme throughout the film is bright and incredibly vivid, also benefiting from a complete lack of blemishes and edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Both the old Dolby Digital 5.0 track and a brand new, 5.1 mix is included. The only thing that the new mix has to offer is a bit more aggressive bass, but the original track was solid in its own right. The channel separation is nice, with some very impressive directional effects in play during the jungle-soaring sequences. The dialogue and musical lyrics are crystal clear, and work in perfect tandem with the rest of these mixes.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lady and the Tramp: 2-Disc Special Edition, The Wild, Shaggy Dog, Valiant, Studio Ghibli Films, Kronk's New Groove, Toy Story 2, Old Yeller, Kermit's 50th Anniversary, Power Rangers: S.P.D.
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Producer Bonnie Arnold, directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music and More - Four music videos
  2. Terk's Tree Surfing Challenge - Interactive Game
Extras Review: There are a couple of new features and even some that are carryovers from the earlier release. One of these old extras is an excellent audio commentary track with producer Bonnie Arnold and directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima. All three of these participants seem to be very close as they play perfectly off of each other, going into great detail on everything from adapting the original Tarzan story to the complex steps in the animation process.

The three deleted scenes have been ported over as well, including the two-minute introduction by Arnold. These sequences include an alternate opening as well as a different take on the climactic riverboat battle sequence.

The Music and More extras section has four music videos, with the version of Strangers Like Me by Everlife as the new addition to this release. The other three clips are You'll Be in My Heart and Strangers Like Me by Phil Collins, and Trashin' the Camp, which is footage from a studio session with Collins and 'N Sync.

All of the features in the Games and Activities submenu are new, including DisneyPedia: Living in the Jungle. This nearly six-minute segment is a fun and educational look at the real-life animals on which those in Tarzan are based. Also in this section is Terk's Tree Surfing Challenge, which is a series of three interactive games that test your memory skills, your ability to collect items quickly, and how fast you can dodge Clayton's traps while sliding through the trees.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

What was initially announced as a two-disc set on par with Disney's previously released, now out-of-print "Collector's Edition" set, is now a single-disc reissue called Tarzan: Special Edition. The video is the same, but there is a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and a couple of new extras that don't come close to making up for the lack of supplements from that stellar earlier release. So, if you already own the "Collector's Edition" there's no reason to pick up this new disc, but fans of Tarzan who don't yet own it on DVD shouldpick this up.


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