Tarzan appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a consistently terrific visual experience.
Sharpness looked immaculate from start to finish, as I never noticed the slightest amount of softness or haziness at any point. This was a concise, distinctive presentation. Moire effects and jagged edges were absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. The print itself appeared clean and smooth, with no print flaws on display.
Colors looked solid. Jungle greens dominated, but we also got lovely yellows from Jane’s dress and some fiery reds during the climax. All looked dynamic and strong. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but not too thick. I found no reason to complain, as this was an excellent transfer.
I thought the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.0 soundfield seemed engulfing and active, with a nicely spatial image that offered well-placed sounds. The rears provided a good level of information and were active participants in the mix. The various action scenes worked best, but the general ambience was also smooth and well-defined.
Sound quality seemed excellent. Dialogue was consistently clear and natural. Lines seemed neatly integrated with the image, something that's not always easy to do in animation. The music was smooth and well-rounded, while effects were realistic and detailed, with some very good bass at times. Everything meshed together to make this a fine soundtrack.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the Special Edition DVD from 2005? Audio appeared bolder and smoother, while visuals were tighter, brighter and more film-like. The DVD looked/sounded good for its format but couldn’t compete with this excellent release.
The Blu-ray mixes extras from the 2005 DVD as well as Collector’s Edition DVD from 2000, and we begin with an audio commentary from producer Bonnie Arnold and directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They dig into a wealth of issues such as the music and working with Phil Collins, characters and story, the performances of the voice actors and casting, depictions of animals and the jungle, and animation concerns/technical details like the “Deep Canvas” process.
In other words, they cover pretty much everything we’d expect from this sort of track. They also add decent humor and interact in a lively manner. I think we find more praise than I’d like, but I still can’t offer too many complaints about this informative discussion.
"History And Development" offers an area that consists mainly of some brief video programs. From Burroughs To Disney lasts two minutes and 40 seconds and essentially acts as a brief introduction to the topic. The Early Presentation Reel runs for one minute, 58 seconds as it presents a visual introduction to the movie that was used to sell the suits on the idea; it combines concept art with an early Tarzan song from Phil Collins. Research Trip to Africa shows the animators and other creative folks involved as they visit Africa to get a better feel for the subject; this piece lasts two minutes, 58 seconds.
Our next section is "The Characters of Tarzan, which focuses mainly on the visual evolution of the participants. Unsurprisingly, the first area - which examines the T-man himself - is the most extensive. Creating Tarzan follows the same general structure of all the other video featurettes we've seen, with interviews and production clips that discuss the basics of Tarzan; it lasts for four minutes, four seconds.
Next is Animating Tarzan a slightly more extensive program that does a better job of detailing that process. Lead animator Glen Keane narrates and it runs for six minutes and 39 seconds. This piece shows all of the issues that concerned bringing Tarzan to life.
The rest of the "Characters" section details the other personalities and all follow the same template established in the "Tarzan" area. We locate these featurettes: "Creating Jane and Porter" (2:58), "Creating Kala and Kerchak" (3:04), "Creating Terk and Tantor" (3:00) and "Creating Clayton" (3:22). All offer brief but useful examinations of design/animation choices for the film.
Next we move to the "Animation Production" section. Essentially, deep canvas let artists create three-dimensional "sets" within the computer so the camera could fly all over the place and create a much more kinetic feeling. The Deep Canvas Process offers a two-minute, 43-second overview of the technique. More info appears in Deep Canvas Demonstration, a five-minute, six-second program that spells out the way it works in a more detailed manner.
Up next comes the "Story and Editorial" section. Building the Story is another general overview of the subject; it lasts for three minutes and 13 seconds and includes the usual interviews and production clips to tell us about the story process. Storyboard to Film Comparison offers the standard look at how the original conception of a scene compares to its ultimate execution. This area presents the film's opening scene, with the boards on the top half of the screen and the finished movie on the bottom; it lasts for three minutes and 23 seconds.
“Publicity” includes three trailers for Tarzan. A DisneyPedia entry called “Living in the Jungle” teaches us about various animals like gorillas, leopards, baboons, and elephants. The five-minute and 55-second program should offer minor education for the kiddies.
We find three deleted scenes. These start with a one-minute and 50-second introduction from Bonnie Arnold as she discusses the reasons these segments didn't make the cut. We get "Alternate Opening" (two minutes, 12 seconds); "Terk Finds the Human Camp" (two minutes, 19 seconds); and "Riverboat Fight" (three minutes, 36 seconds). All exist in the realm of storyreels, as they never made it past the film’s planning stages. In the absence of actual deleted animation, these offer a great look at other directions the movie might have taken.
Under the banner of “Music and More”, three music videos appear. We find Phil Collins’ "You'll Be In My Heart", which offers an odd clip. Collins does the usual lip-synching, but in an unconventional manner, with some high-tech effects involved. This video also barely relates the existence of the film; we see a rough sketch of Tarzan as graffiti in one scene, and some human participants replicate the "hand-joining" facet of the movie, but these are almost subliminal forms of promotion. One could easily watch this four-minute and 18-second clip and not know it has a connection to Tarzan.
Such is not the case with the video for Collins’ "Strangers Like Me". This offers a three-minute clip that pretty closely follows the usual Disney "video for a song from an animated movie" formula: lots of fairly blah shots of lip-synching intercut with many scenes from the film itself. Yawn.
An alternate version of “Strangers” appears as well via a take by Everlife. This three-minute, 30-second piece shows the group of rockin’ babes (imagine younger, hotter Joan Jetts) as they lip-synch in a live setting; we also get some movie snippets. They’re more attractive than Collins, but it’s a boring video, and their cover’s a glossy attempt at edgy rock Disney-style. That ain’t good. (And what’s with the band’s name? It makes them sound like a Christian rock group.)
The two-minute, 51-second The Making of the Music offers interviews from songwriter/performer Phil Collins and score composer Mark Mancina and also combines film clips and shots of Collins performing the music. Tarzan Goes International functions along the lines of the usual "multi-language reel" except that in addition to hearing Collins sing "Stranger Like Me" in five languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish and German), we see some clips of this and we also watch some interviews with him. This program lasts for two minutes and 24 seconds.
“Music and More” also includes with Studio Sessions With Phil Collins and 'N Sync, a two-minute and six-second snippet that combines shots of those improbable partners recording in the studio with some interview clips. I thought it was a bit dull.
The area ends with Original Phil Collins Song Demos. This starts with a one-minute, 50-second introduction from music producer Chris Montan that briefly discusses the material we'll find. We then hear early versions of "Lullaby" (aka "You'll Be In My Heart"), "Son Of Man/Celebration", "Rhythm Piece" (aka "Trashin' The Camp"), and "I Will Follow" (aka "Strangers Like Me"). We also get one completely unused piece, "6/8 Intro". These last a total of 20 minutes, eight seconds. They provide a nice look at the creative process since we can hear the early beginnings of these tunes.
The disc opens with ads for Planes: Fire & Rescue, Sleeping Beauty, and Legend of the Neverbeast. Sneak Peeks throws in promos for Gravity Falls and Disney Parks.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of Tarzan. This includes deleted scenes, “Creating Tarzan”, “Animating Tarzan”, “The Making of the Music” and “Tarzan Goes International”.
Tarzan isn't a perfect movie but it provides a capable piece of animated entertainment. The film mixes enough action, laughs and charm to become a winner. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio along with a pretty good collection of bonus materials. Though it doesn’t include all of the supplements from prior releases, it’s still the best combination of extras and movie presentation we’ve gotten.
To rate this film, visit the 2005 DVD review of TARZAN