Plot: What’s it about?
Although the dinosaurs have lived there for some time, it seems like the Great Valley always has some surprises to spring on them. It has given them plenty to feast upon, safe places to live within, even a mysterious rock crashed there once, but this time, the Great Valley is about to change in a way none of them could have imagined. In this case, some unusual substance starts to fall from the sky and make the Great Valley colder than ever before, much to the surprise of all the dinosaurs who call the area home. At first, the snow is viewed as a fun and enchanting material, one that the dinosaurs roll in, play with, and sometimes celebrate. But they soon discover that the snow could be a threat to them, as the cold weather is not something they’re used to and unless they can adapt soon, it could be curtains. At the same time, Spike ends up following a Stegosaurus herd and by default, Ducky follows Spike to keep tabs. Of course, this means Littlefoot and the others have to venture out to bring back their friends, but it won’t be an easy task, to say the least. Even with the “help” of Mr. Thicknose in tow, can the little dinos rescue their friends?
This series kicked off with a few enjoyable films, but it has now fallen into direct to video status, which is often the kiss of death. An animated series aimed at kids can survive in this realm of course, but without a decent budget involved, the films lack the complex animation, dazzling visuals, and well known voice talent. The main name here is Robert Guillaume (Tv’s Benson), but aside from him, there’s no one of merit to discuss. The end result is close to a full length Saturday morning cartoon, which is not what I think most people want from this series. The first few films were well made, well written, and were quite good, but now we’re up to this eighth installment and as expected, things have started to wear thin. If some additional cash were injected into the series, perhaps some better animators, writers, and voice talents could be brought in and as such, the series could regain the level of entertainment it once offered. Until then however, these volumes keep getting worse and unless your kid is addicted to these characters, I’d say a rental will suffice.
Video: How does it look?
The Land Before Time VIII is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I wish Universal would produce these films with an anamorphic widescreen transfer in mind, but the effort here is still quite impressive, to be sure. The image is as clean as a whistle (which it should be, since it went straight to home video), with no grain or blemishes in the least to report. The colors are vivid and almost bounce right off the screen, especially in a few specific scenes. I saw no troubles with contrast either, as detail is high throughout and black levels remain stark & well balanced also. This is a sharp, rich visual presentation and I wish the animation would have been more complex, as this could have been a real visual marvel.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is close to what I expected, as this is a cartoon and as such, it packs little in terms of power. The surrounds are used at times however, for like the music and songs, but not much as far as traditional sound effects and such. The musical numbers sound good however, so kids should be pleased and in this case, that’s what counts. The normal vocals come through well also, with no signs of distortion or volume errors to mention. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some character bios, DVD ROM content, a selection of sing-a-long songs, and a few games for the kids.