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I have been hesitant to review any of Warner Home Video’s "bargain" DVD titles because I didn’t want to let my overwhelming distaste for full frame transfers prejudice my opinions against any particular disc. Let’s face it, open matte and/or cropped transfers are downright disrespectful of filmmakers, as well as the movies themselves. Heck, I’ve become so spoiled by the wonders of DVD format that I am less than enthused when a wide screen transfer isn’t enhanced for 16:9 playback. That is why TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY ($15) is the first of Warner’s bargain DVDs that I can review without any preconceived notions.

TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY isn’t great cinema, but it is the kind of mindless jungle fun that one would find in a Tarzan movie from the good old days when Johnny Weissmuller strapped on a loincloth. TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY stars Casper Van Dien as the latest incarnation Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legendary character. After returning to civilization and assuming the mantle of Lord Greystoke, Tarzan once again hears the call of the jungle and must return to Africa. Once he gets back to his roots (and vines), Tarzan must fend off a group of poachers/treasure hunters who have stumbled onto the location of a mystical "Lost City" that is also an enormous treasure house.

Now, what would a Tarzan movie be without a Jane? Well, I won’t even bother to answer that question, however TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY does feature Jane March in the role of Jane. For those of you expecting Jane March to get naked in the jungle- sorry guys, TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY is strictly family entertainment. Jane does however, follow her apeman to Africa, where she arouses the villain before being predictably kidnapped by Tarzan’s nemesis Nigel Ravens (Steven Waddington). After swinging from a few vines, saving animals from poachers and engaging in some African mysticism, Tarzan gets down to the business of kicking the crud out of the bad guys, rescuing Jane and preserving the "Lost City." Sure the story has holes big enough for our hero ride a charging elephant through, but then again, the film doesn’t try to be anything more than mildly diverting family fare. The cast of TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY also includes Winston Ntshona, Rapulana Seiphemo and Ian Roberts.

Warner Home Video has made TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY available on DVD in a great looking wide screen transfer that restores the film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16:9 playback. TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY features a lot of nice looking jungle photography that is well reproduced on DVD. The image is sharp and detailed, although shadow detail is a bit limited during some of the darker sequences. Colors are vividly saturated and flesh tones appear very natural. Neither chroma noise or digital compression artifacts offered any visual distractions.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround, which proves there is still some life in the older matrixed format. The forward soundstage has good channel separation and strong dialogue reproduction. As for the surrounds, they are fairly active, but do display the limitations of the Dolby Surround format. Bass reproduction is reasonably solid. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD. By the way, if one bothers to read all the credits, TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY did have discrete Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. I guess omitting discrete surround from this DVD was a way to make this title cost effective at $14.98.

The interactive menus are no more simplistic than those featured on DVDs costing trice as much. Through the menus, one can access the standard scene selection and language setup features.

TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY is not the kind of movie that anyone would have purchased on DVD at $24.98 or even $19.98. Therefore, Warner Home Video did a smart thing by pricing this title at $14.98, since consumers can pick this title up for less than ten bucks. At that price, TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY becomes a worthwhile acquisition, even for a single evening’s entertainment.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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