Cinelinx "lets it go" with the new Frozen Blu-ray from Disney!
A queen who can harness the power of winter turns her kingdom into a icy wasteland, and only her sister can convince her to end her cold reign. Features the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad.
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Over the past 15 years, Disney has done well with Pixar features, but their in-house animation features have had a hit-and-miss record. Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range didn’t do well with critics or at the box office, but the studio seemed to be on the upswing in recent years, with the success of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Frozen, however, is the best of the bunch, surprising many by being one of Disney’s best non-Pixar films of the past twenty years. It also became the first non-Pixar Disney film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story “The Snow Queen” is given a fresh, entertaining retelling, with fantastic songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Set in the kingdom of Arendelle, princesses Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) live in relative isolation, in an effort to hide Elsa’s magical power that can control the forces of winter. At her coronation as queen, Elsa’s powers are exposed and go out of control, causing her to retreat into the mountains and leaving her country covered in snow and ice. That sends Anna on a quest to bring her home, with a mountain man named Kristoff (Groff) and an enchanted snowman named Olaf (Gad) along for the ride.
Frozen feels more like a Broadway musical than a Disney musical; whether this is a good or bad thing depends largely on the viewer. Much of the major dialogue and interaction is sung rather than spoken, a practice which often makes it difficult to emotionally connect with the characters. Many of the great emotional scenes in Disney classics like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid happen outside of the musical numbers, and if Frozen has a fault, it is the fact that it needed more interaction between the characters. I tend to find CGI animation a bit too perfect, and as a result, it lacks the ability to emotionally connect with viewers like hand-drawn images can. To its' credit, Frozen does feature some outstanding voice performances in addition to the knockout musical numbers, which does help the viewer to invest emotionally in the characters.
The songs take on a modern, light-pop feel, which is a bit Glee-like, which is not good, because I loathe that show. Loathe, people. Thankfully, the music of Frozen is good enough to overcome that. This isn’t the first time Disney animated features have used contemporary music styles, but this may be one of its best applications. Josh Gad’s song “In Summer,” however, is a nice traditional diversion from the other songs, offering up a tune reminiscent of Cole Porter. It’s practically de-lovely.
I had no idea Kristen Bell was such an accomplished singer, but the real standout is Idina Menzel, who packs an emotional punch as Elsa. The bond between sisters is a rare theme for Disney to take on, and combined with a girl-power mantra and some engaging comic relief, Frozen becomes something special. It is a unique and entertaining viewing experience with appeal across age groups. It’s nice to see Disney magic doesn’t have to use the same Disney formula.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Blu-ray’s high definition transfer is fantastic, with a deep, rich color palette that is both natural and bold. Frozen features outstanding CGI animation, with some of the most lifelike movement I’ve ever seen, and the transfer translates this movement with no blur or loss of information or detail. Textures and backgrounds are visible in exquisite detail. This is a showcase-worthy transfer. The music is highlighted by an impressive 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack that envelops the viewer with a deep, rich sound. It is exceptional. 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are included in English, Spanish, and French.
The Blu-ray has some decent extras, although the disc overall isn’t packed with supplemental material like most major Disney releases. However, since Disney rushed this disc to retail while the movie is still in the box office top ten, I can forgive them for not being able to give us a ton of extras.
The new Mickey Mouse short “Get a Horse” is included, and it is an unconventional but entertaining cartoon, mixing old-school black and white Mickey with the new CGI 3D Mickey. The high-definition presentation is first-rate.
Also included is “The Making of Frozen,” a short featurette that isn’t quite what it claims to be. It’s clever and a bit funny, but way too Glee-like, which is not a good thing in my book. Did I mention I hate that show? Since I was actually looking forward to seeing some “behind-the-scenes” action, this featurette left me frustrated.
On the other hand, a second featurette, “D’Frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen,” is a great look at the history Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen” took from idea to screen. Originally planned as a feature in 1939 by Walt himself, the movie took a seventy year road to finally being made. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck discuss the film’s history, and Alice Davis, wife of legendary Disney animator Marc Davis (one of Walt’s original “Nine Old Men”) shows off concept work by her husband that he created for the film decades ago. It’s a great featurette.
Four deleted scenes are included in storyboard form, and can be viewed with optional introductions from directors Lee and Buck: “Never Underestimate the Power of Elsa,” “The Dressing Room,” “Meet Kristoff #1,” and “Meet Kristoff #2.” The scenes include temporary soundtracks and a few special effects embellishments (mostly snow) for the viewer’s sake, but the content overall isn’t particularly captivating, so it makes sense that they were cut.
If you’re a fan of the film’s music, particularly the Oscar-winning Best Song “Let It Go,” the disc provides music videos for the song in four languages, including Demi Lovato singing the English version, Martina Stoessel singing the Spanish and Italian version, and Marsha Milan singing the Malaysian version. An original teaser trailer and a digital copy of the film are also included.
The DVD included with the Blu-ray set includes the Mickey Mouse short, the music videos, and the trailer only.
Release date: March 18, 2014
Running time: 102 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.24:1
Audio: English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio (Blu-ray only), English Descriptive Video Service 2.0, English, French, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Special features: “Get a Horse” short, “The Making of Frozen” featurette, “D’Frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen” featurette, Four deleted scenes, Four music videos, original teaser trailer, and digital copy.
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
The Bottom Line: Frozen is Disney's snowy triumph
Frozen is Disney's best animated feature since The Lion King. The Bu-ray features a perfect picture and soundtrack, and there are some decent extras. This is a film and blu-ray suitable for young and old. We highly recommend it.