Barely cracking an hour in length, this weakling sequel to bellowing laugh riot Emperor’s New Groove slips, tumbles, and falls without focus. Ignited with secondary character Kronk (Patrick Warburton), this series of scattered vignettes profess to tell a trifecta of stories that bleed into one another by the final credit roll. They… sort of do.
Kronk needs a house, a wife, and approval of his unforgiving, soon-to-be-visiting father, and somewhere in this mix is returning purple clad villain Yzma (Eartha Kitt) selling youth potions to seniors. Kronk isn’t so much in a groove as much as he is jumbled and stepping on his own feet as he slips into flashback.
Kronk’s New Groove is promising, despite cruddier (if still smooth) animation and TV-level theatrics. Opening bursts of soulful pop generate zip and Yzma’s diabolical tune is right up there in the Dinsey musical vernacular. Rushed appearances of Kuzco (David Spade) notwithstanding, building blocks solidly bolt this video sequel on solid surfaces, until the temple walls crash down.
Kronk’s own storytelling fishes for gags, plopping itself into a murky rut once it hits a summer camp fiasco it can’t crawl out of. Romantic engagement with a rival counselor are a haven for child-level metaphors, siphoning honesty and sportsmanship from a thin narrative puddle. Stories are first issued to pack in familiar faces – cutting down on design budgets – then finding somewhere for them to be. Kuzco begins as a passive viewer, only to show up mute during the repetitious closing musical number.
Kronk, for the investment of energy given to him in the first feature, was one-note: a dolt. Presented here, he’s still a dolt and still one note. Weaseling in storylines that wrestle him toward positive messages strays afar from character embellishments. Kuzco, even starring in a brisk film himself, had two levels, a whiny Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde flare up for New Groove to work around. The follow-up is desperate for that same internal interaction.
It is tough to berate something intended for softer home viewing, a DVD the kids can pop in, sing along to, and remain captivated by. Kronk’s adventure has enough whimsey to woo an intended audience (kids may even like this one better), yet the unexpected sprouting fan base for Emperor’s New Groove should have signaled feature film franchise potential, not the bottomless, rotting pit of Disney home video. This should be more than passable.
Bizarre as it may be for technically inclined Blu-ray devotees, Kronk’s New Groove is a recipient of a better encode than its predecessor. Don’t blame the messenger, just Disney. Powered by AVC and locked to the same disc as the first film, this brisk effort is afforded careful compression which renders artifacts nullified. Colors are pure and lack intrusion from bothersome encoding faults.
Cheaper animation is revealed by resolution clarity, certain backdrops scanned in pixelated form, end results readily apparent to even casual viewers. Yzma’s wall of green potions is hilariously boxy, and of no fault of this encode. One assumes Disney cut corners, and never expected cost slashing to be made so obvious.
Lines often carry purity evident from Emperor’s, although can devolve into lesser, thicker streaks. Lacking pencil sketch qualities dims appeal, but again, isn’t an issue levied on the encode. Backdrops still show brush strokes and saturate with carefully chosen primaries.
Imagery is expectantly clean sans minor banding, negated to rare instances of specialized shadowing. There is little of it here. Approaching Kronk’s with smoother digital transitions is wrong-headed, although nonetheless a joy to see in action.
Vivid music pipes through from this DTS-HD offering, certainly creating a dominating opening, once out of flashback. LFE is heartily balanced, with vocals pushing from a center channel in clarifying dominance without spoiling instrumentals in the stereos. A late dance off competition equals in power, and adds in a cheering audience to fill surrounds.
Sound design is otherwise reserved, rarely breaking the soundstage away from a center-driven effort. Dialogue splits into the fronts inside the diner on a handful of occasions. Action is otherwise restricted and mundane. If the film lacks energy, so does its audio.
Nothing! You get nothing! Because even trailers are too much for this disc to bear!