FROZEN Blu-ray Review

     April 1, 2014


It’s no shock that Frozen — the great animated film by Disney — became a hit, but it’s a little surprising it became a phenomenon.  Currently the film is still in theaters, even though it’s now on DVD and Blu-ray, and it’s about to cross the $400 Million dollar mark domestically, while it’s now the twelfth highest grossing film of all time worldwide (unadjusted, of course), and could cross into the top ten when all is said and done.

Hit the jump for my Frozen Blu-ray review.

frozen-blu-ray-reviewAs we see in the prologue, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is gifted with the power of being able to create snow, ice and cold temperatures, which allows her to play games with her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell).  But when their horseplay leads to Anna being seriously injured, the family decide to hide Elsa’s gifts for fear she accidentally hurts anyone else, or gets called out as a freak.  The parents die in a boating accident, and so the two daughters grow up alone, which leaves Anna alienated from her sister because Elsa doesn’t seem to want to spend any time with her, even if Elsa is doing it for both of their sakes.

But they can’t avoid the public entirely, and so when Elsa comes of age she has to hold a coronation ceremony.  It’s during this event that Anna meets Hans (Santino Fontana) and the two fall in love quickly, though — as Elsa points out — Anna hasn’t really met anyone before, and she could just be falling for whoever shows up first.  Anna and Hans plot to get married regardless, while the coronation gets ruined when Elsa’s powers are revealed.  Elsa runs off, but leaves their town covered in ice and snow, and so Anna goes in pursuit with help from guides Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman that comes to life through Elsa’s magic.  Back in the court there’s an obviously evil Duke (Alan Tudyk), but as — to be expected — the machinations aren’t that simple, and to save both Elsa and Anna an act of true love is required.

frozen-blu-ray-reviewThough many animated films have musical numbers, the Pixar model has become the dominate one for the last fifteen years, and it’s rare in a Pixar film for a character to burst into song (I can only think of Wheezy at the end of Toy Story 2).  As such, most of the recent animated films either have original songs that aren’t a part of the text, or they feature already famous pop songs (think Shrek and “I’m a Believer,” etc.).  The more recent Disney films have had songs, but none that memorable, or nothing as memorable as “Circle of Life” or “Under the Sea.” Can anyone remember the songs from The Princess and The Frog? Basically, there haven’t been any big Broadway numbers in a Disney film in almost a generation.  Enter “Let it Go…”

Actually, enter most of the songs in the film.  This is the first film in a long while where the songs burst off the screen, and makes audiences want to sing along.  There are now over a million youtube videos where little kids and adults are singing along to “Let it Go” (it’s hard to say it’s precise, but the search results reveal “About 3,520,000 results”).  The film won the Best Song Oscar for a reason.  And it seems that people have been longing for a film to sing along to, with “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “In Summer’ etc.  equally as catchy.  Will Hollywood realize that audiences love musicals? Probably not, but where the film is charming, and has a good moral that subverts some of the “true love”/princesses needing princes ideology that has been a driving force in a lot of previous Disney films, it’s hard to imagine that the film would have burrowed into the hearts of so many younger and older viewers if it wasn’t for the music.  That said, it’s a good movie with a charming cast and a film that obviously found itself along the way.  But it’s definitely made by those numbers.

frozen-blu-ray-reviewDisney’s Blu-ray release comes with a DVD and digital copy, while the film is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD master audio and in widescreen (2.24:1).  The aspect ratio is a weird choice (it was originally released in 3D and in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio), and I wish it were explained why they went with the compromised aspect ratio in the release.  That said, the picture and sound quality are spectacular.  Computer generated cinema, which is basically ported over, can only look as bad as the original master in these situations, and so there’s a great wow factor to this one.

Alas, the extras are virtually non-existent, which suggests (at least considering how successful the film was) a special edition hitting in a couple of months.  The set comes with the short “Get a Horse” (6 min.) which played before the film in its theatrical release, and plays beautifully on the history of Mickey Mouse shorts.  There’s a non-making of musical number called “The Making of Frozen” (3 min.), which features another catchy number and a funny look at the Disney lot, while the most substantial featurette is “D’Frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen” (7 min.) which gets into how Walt Disney had almost tackled the material, but didn’t.  There are four deleted scenes (7 min.), which show that the film went through a lot of work to get into its present shape, and are introduced by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, while there’s also four different versions of “Let it Go” included on here as music videos, as performed by Demi Lovato (in English), Martina Stoessel (in Spanish and in Italian), and Marsha Milan (in Malaysian).  The film’s theatrical trailer is also included.

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