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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Large Frame Format > Disney DTS Region 3 Animated Features: Monster's Inc./Lion King/Finding Nemo

Disney Region 3 DVD’s: Monsters Inc, The Lion King, and Finding Nemo


                                   Picture:  Sound: Extras:  Film:

Monsters Inc                  A-         A-         A        B

The Lion King                  B+        A-         A        A-

Finding Nemo                     A-         A          A        A



Disney is one of the producers of DVD product at its best, but that statement is only true if you DO NOT live inside the U.S.  Or should we say if you buy many of the Region 1 DVD’s from them.  It is baffling how a studio with such reputation for excellence and a legacy could allow such an atrocity to occur with their catalog of films.  The first crime is that they control the demand of their titles with the infamous ‘Disney Vault’ and the second crime that they commit is only using Dolby Digital as an audio option for their animated features such as Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bugs Life, Tarzan, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Aladdin, and the list continues on the DVD format.  Even in the LaserDisc era the first Toy Story was issued in 12” form with a DTS option and from what I understand it was fantastic!


So the question and point of this review is mainly to alert the consumer that if you wish to get these films on DVD and truly want good sound for your money, than look outside the U.S.  If that happens, perhaps more people will demand better quality from the studio, which generally goes DTS for some of their films, but mainly live-action, and to generate a buzz for using DTS as a companion to Dolby Digital for real audiophiles.  There should be no reason why a U.S. citizen should have to track down Region 3 Korean, Japanese, or whatever other country carries the Region 3 code, in order to get a good product. 


Let’s begin with The Lion King, which remains one of Disney’s strongest animated features of all time, or at least over the past 25 years.  The film was also one of their last true successes before acquiring Pixar, who would then take everything to a new level with amazing digital animation occurring.  The Lion King was unlike anything anyone had seen in 1994 and even looking back the film is still of epic proportions.  Not only that, but the sound was designed BIG!  The Lion King received two of the biggest honors when it comes to quality and that is that it was blown-up for 70mm prints and also transferred to the IMAX ratio for an even more spectacular viewing! 


The film was animated and the intended aspect ratio for the film was 1.66 X 1, which typically was trimmed for 35mm prints to a 1.78 X 1/16:9 ratio and the 70mm IMAX prints would have been more like 1.50 X 1 because of the fisheye effect of the IMAX screen.  Blowing up and digital enhancement is also involved in the IMAX case, which purists might not like.  For this DVD both the region 1 and 3 are at the 1.66 X 1 ratio and they also look the same.  There is no doubt that a bit more compression is probably going to happen on the Region 3 disc, but that’s because of the inclusion of DTS as a third audio option.

I say third option because Disney also includes an enhanced audio option, which activates more surround activity and this is an upgrade Dolby Digital track that attempts to sound like DTS.  On the Region 3 disc you don’t even have to listen to either of the Dolby tracks because the real ‘enhanced mix’ IS the DTS version!!!!  After listening to that particular track there is no need to even compare.  The surrounds are constantly engaged and full of life and energy.  The music comes through with such force and precision.  Dialogue is quite clear and the overall performance is just astonishing.  The film was designed to be heard just like this with loud thumping of the animals moving, the swiftness of leaves or the music dancing around from channel to channel. 


Extras are identical to the 2-Disc Region 1 DVD. 


Monster’s Inc was a feature that came out and had more expectations than probably any other film from Pixar.  The hype for this film was huge after the enormous success of the two Toy Story films, Pixar was unleashing a film about monsters and the animation was kicked up yet another notch in the world of digital.  However, unlike the Toy Story features, Monsters Inc was a bit bubblish and almost too sweet for comfort.  While it still has loyal fans and has a huge following still, it is not their strongest feature and does not necessarily appeal to all ages or genders like some of their other outings. 


I had expected the film to have huge sound for DVD, and the Region 1 disc never fully delivered that, despite being a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX release, there was so much lacking in almost every category.  The bass was not full or enriching, the surrounds were merely convincing, and it just lacked punch.  However, the Region 3 disc with the inclusion of DTS makes that correction quickly.  While it may not nearly be as thunderous as some might hope for, it still has a huge powerful sound that the film deserves. 


Last, but not least, is Finding Nemo, which is just a downright hilarious feature that combines so much craft and sharpness all in one film.  The film also scored big for Pixar making it one of their best, if not THE best.  Even The Incredibles could not quite come close to the hilarity and just coolness of Nemo.  Unfortunately Nemo on DVD was just plain lame!  The sound was a mess for the Region 1 DVD, which had way too much bass coming through the mix and it was trying to sound full like DTS, but just became a nightmare. 


Alas, the Region 3 disc solves the problem with ease as the DTS manages that large sound design and maximizes every channel and output to its fullest.  Now what we are experiencing is the fullness and clarity that should go into every DVD.  The film can be played back from the Region 3 disc in either Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES Discrete, but once again the DTS-ES is far more superior in every category.  There are subtleties that are also picked up as well, especially in the music and the quieter moments of the film that are never brought to life in Dolby, but in DTS are really effective.  Bass is never a problem and dialogue is incredibly clear and distinct.  The surrounds are constantly floating (no pun intended) around with water sounds and other marine making the film bombastic. 


While I had no intention of really reviewing these films, I truly hope that more people become aware of other markets that are available for consumers that are tired of getting product that does not deliver.  There is no reason that if a particular DVD can be released outside the U.S. with the same extras that they cannot include DTS as an option.  I almost think that Disney believes that Americans are dumb and will buy anything and that way they can pull the blanket over our eyes, while in the other markets of the world the consumer demands the best quality and guess what…the get it!  We can get it too though if we join together in making it known that we want the best of the best, or buy a Region free player and enjoy!!!



-   Nate Goss


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