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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/18/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/10/2014
We've always been told that you can't have your cake and eat it too. That certainly isn't true in the case of Walt Disney Studios and animation. For nearly 20 years, Disney has partnered with Pixar in distributing their animated films and handling the merchandise related to those movies. Even if Pixar is entitled to a majority of the revenue in this agreement, it has still filled Disney's coffers. At the same time, Disney's in-house animation department has been turning out its own computer-generated animated films. While some of their early entries received a luke-warm welcome, the more recent Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph were both hits. Now, Disney has done it again with the international hit Frozen.
Frozen takes place in the ancient land of Arendelle. There, we meet sisters Elsa and Anna, both of whom are princesses.. For reasons never explained, Elsa has the ability to conjure snow and ice, and Anna loves to play with her sibling's creations. One night, they sneak out of bed to play in the great hall, and Anna slips and falls from one of Elsa's ice creations. Their parents rush Anna to the trolls, who take away any memory of Elsa's powers from Anna's head. Then, the castle is sealed and Elsa, feeling remorseful, refuses to play with Anna. Years pass and the King and Queen are killed at sea. When she comes of age, it's announced that Anna (voiced by Idina Menzel) will be crowned. Thus, the castle is opened for the first time in years, and Anna (voiced by Kristin Bell) revels in the freedom. She meets Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana) and is swept off her feet. At the coronation, things go awry and Elsa's powers are revealed. Labeled a monster, she flees into the mountains. Anna goes after her and meets Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), who agrees to help her. Can Anna help Elsa get her powers under control?
In our age where trends rule everything, we've grown very accustomed to movies opening big (or relatively big) at the box office and then quickly fading away in preparation for their home video debut three months later. However, that wasn't the case with Frozen. The movie had "legs" (as it's known in the industry) and remained in the Top 10 for weeks. Of course, this all culminated with Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.
Given all of that, I was expecting quite a bit from Frozen. What I didn't expect was a movie which lost me from the outset. We see Elsa and Anna playing and then Elsa hits Anna with a cold blast (or whatever you want to call it) and she falls to the floor. Suddenly, the panicked King and Queen are taking her to the rock trolls who work some soft of voodoo on her, erasing her memory. The problem is that the accident didn't look that severe, and we're never told how bad it was. Was Anna near death? I've certainly seen my two daughters do worse. So, when the castle is sealed and Elsa turns her back on her sister, it all feels like overkill and doesn't make any sense.
Things continue to get wonky when Elsa loses control at the coronation and flees to the mountains. Apparently in earlier versions of the script, Elsa was the villain. In the finished product, they didn't rectify that situation, as Elsa is still a villain...sort of. She runs away and builds a fortress made of ice (Someone get me Superman on the phone.) and she sics a snow-monster on intruders (In a scene which I found very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast). Meanwhile, the audience is left to wonder what all of the fuss is about. Elsa was now the queen -- she could have simply told her subjects to deal with the fact that she has magic powers. Speaking of which, the movie never explains why Elsa is magic and Anna isn't. We also don't get any background on why a seemingly normal place would have rock trolls or why Elsa can bring things like the snow-monster or Olaf the snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) to life.
Now the question becomes, how were millions duped into loving this bizarre movie? On the surface, Frozen has everything necessary to be a Disney classic. The songs are good, and they did the right thing casting Idina Menzel, as her vocal abilities add a level of talent to the film which distinguishes it from similar efforts. There are some funny moments, and Olaf certainly spices up the second half of the film, joining a long-line of fun Disney sidekicks. The animation looks fantastic and I really like what Disney has done with both Tangled and Frozen in that the films are CG, but maintain qualities of the studio's classic hand-drawn films. So, given that animated films take years to make, how did something with so many plot-holes make its way to the big-screen. Was the assumption that kids wouldn't notice? I don't know how anyone could overlook the fact that the movie makes little sense and leaves us with too many unanswered questions. Frozen may have its charms, but it left me cold.
Frozen opens with a song praising ice and then shows people freaking out when it gets cold on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source materials. This presumably digital-to-digital transfer brings us great colors, most notably blues and greens, and a picture which is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is fantastic and we can see the intricacy of the animation. The depth is excellent, even in this 2D version. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are excellent, as they illustrate sounds coming from off-screen or moving from side-to-side. The surround sound effects are great as well, as we get many individual sounds coming from the rear speakers. The subwoofer effects provide quality bass during the action sequences. As one would hope, the songs sound fantastic. Overall, a great technical package.
The Frozen Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. "Get a Horse!" (6 minutes) is the short which was shown prior to Frozen during its theatrical run. It's a tribute to the early days of Disney shorts...and it's just terrible. "The Making of Frozen" (3 minutes) is a bizarre music video of sorts where Bell, Groff, and Gad sing their way through the Disney animation studio. (And it tells us little about how the film was made.) "D'Frosted: Disney's Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen" (7 minutes) takes us into the vaults to see that other projects either related to or inspired by Andersen's story had existed at Disney prior to the making of Frozen. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes when viewed with introductions by Directors Buck and Lee. These are all in storyboard form and one offers a more villainous view of Elsa. We get MUSIC VIDEOS for the song "Let It Go", one by Demi Lovato and one by Martina Stoessel. The final extra is the TEASER TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long