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Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
For more about Frozen and the Frozen Blu-ray release, see Frozen Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 7, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee (XXX)
» See full cast & crew
Frozen Blu-ray Review
Some animated films are worth melting for...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 7, 2014
It isn't very often that a film lugging around so much baggage -- abandoned concepts, production delays, personnel changes, top to bottom rewrites, and eleventh hour alterations, just to scratch the surface -- ends up being anything other than a complete and total mess. It's rare enough to see a remotely functional movie emerge from the depths of production hell, much less a cleverly structured, memorably staged, wholly entertaining delight. And yet that's exactly what Frozen is: that rare diamond in the rough that defies all odds and delivers on both its promise and potential. Rounding out a four-film run that's given us new classics Tangled (2010), Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Frozen makes it difficult to deny that we're (at the very least) three years into a second renaissance in Disney animation -- the Lasseter Renaissance if you will -- an exciting era of wonder, laughter and joy ideally suited to the young and the young at heart.
Fearless optimist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Veronica Mars), a princess of Arendelle, sets off on an epic journey -- teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff, The Conspirator, Taking Woodstock) and his loyal reindeer Sven -- to find her older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel, Enchanted, Rent, whose ice powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad, Love & Other Drugs, Jobs) Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
Melting what could have been an icy emotional core is Bell and Menzel's Anna and Elsa; two of the most satisfyingly rounded and realized Disney princesses to come along in some time. Though each is driven by a basic need for love and acceptance, the winding road they travel to come into their own is as breezy and smartly penned as the best in Disney's canon. Just beneath the richly textured surface is the Frozen princesses that could have been; generic and flat, fire and ice, lazily crammed into separate moral corners. But directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee cautiously, almost meticulously turn corners usually left unturned, continually leading the film in a different direction than Disney filmmakers of the past would have certainly taken it. Anna is no more a damsel in distress than Elsa is a classic villain, and the twists and surprises that await are masterfully crafted and executed. Bell and Menzel lend welcome warmth to the leading ladies too, injecting just the right amount of humor, heart and pathos into their very different but equally empathetic characters.
Some might accuse Frozen of Tangled envy, tossing a handsome would-be prince and two colorful sidekicks into a film that doesn't necessarily need either. And maybe there's a bit of truth to such accusations. However, tremendous effort is devoted to distancing Kristoff from Flynn Rider, Sven and Olaf from Maximus and Pascal, and really the whole of the film from its (ever so slightly superior) first cousin. An unmistakably successful effort I might add, as Frozen's relationship with Tangled begins and ends with its animation and character design. Disney has been working to bring Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale to the screen for more than seventy years -- going back to Walt Disney himself, who passed away before cracking an adaptation of Andersen's seemingly uncrackable "Snow Queen" -- making the polish and precision of the 2013 animated musical that much more impressive. From script to animation, story to dialogue, and musical score to some of the best Disney songs in recent memory (one of which, the rousing, beautifully conceived "Let It Go," rightfully took home an Academy Award), Frozen is infinitely more than the sum of its parts or the ensemble of its heroes. It's the film Disney purists have been crying for, classicists have insisted the studio is incapable of producing without dear Uncle Walt at the helm, and fans of "The Greats" have been clamoring for all these years. It also just so happens to be an ingeniously modern spin on a classic tale; one that finally, finally gives little girls princesses that aren't cursed to float around in weirdly misogynistic snow globes.
Should Frozen have won Best Animated Feature? If you've seen Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-nominated The Wind Rises, you might have a bone to pick with the Academy. I know I do. That said, The Wind Rises, worthy as it was, wasn't "robbed," merely beaten in a narrow race, and a single race at that. Frozen's biggest critics tend to be those who have yet to see it. But when given even the smallest of chances, it delivers; when approached without preconceived expectations, it dazzles and delights. Children will laugh, cheer and dangle off the edges of their seats. (Boys as well as girls, although it took more than a little convincing to get my nine-year-old to give it a go. "Two princesses, dad. Two. No way," I believe was stage one of his argument.) Adults, meanwhile, will beam like little kids, taken back to a nostalgic bygone age when Disney Animation was a magical catharsis, not a genre label.
Frozen Blu-ray, Video Quality
Frozen is set to heat up the iciest hearts with a stunning, wonderfully proficient 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that's straight-from-the-digital-tap gorgeous. Every detail -- the tiniest particles of snow, the stony skin of a troll, a thin hair catching the light, dust floating past a window sill, the smallest freckle, strands of reindeer fur, on and on and on -- is captured beautifully and as perfectly resolved as the current resolution ceiling allows. Colors are bold and striking as well, with wonderfully saturated hues, vivid primaries, dazzling whites, delicate purples and chilly blues, rich blacks and precise, carefully balanced contrast leveling. The encode is impeccable as well, with only a stray sliver of negligible aliasing here and there. (So negligible I hesitate to even mention it.) Significant banding, artifacting, noise and other villains of animation are nowhere to be found, and there aren't any troubling eyesores whatsoever. The Blu-ray release of Frozen looks as magnificent as anyone could hope for. Fans will be ecstatic.
Frozen Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If Frozen's video presentation doesn't thaw out your inner child, its DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track certainly will. A full, enveloping soundfield is only the tip of the iceberg, as the film's sound design makes the most of every channel at its disposal. Big, bountiful low-end output delivers deep, earthy thooms, lends weight to every clash and eruption of magic, and presence to any element that needs to make an impact. The rear speakers match the LFE channel oomph for oomph, spreading the snowy vistas and fire-lit interiors of Arendelle around the listener so effectively that it's tough not to marvel at the directional prowess of it all. Pans are smooth and transparent, effects effortlessly whiz from one end of the room to the next, and the soundscape is only rendered that much more involving and convincing by each element showcased. Dialogue remains crystal clear, notably grounded and perfectly prioritized from start to finish as well, without a single exception. All told, Disney has conjured up an early front-runner for best animated AV presentation of the year.
Frozen Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Frozen Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
More than the most refreshing animated surprise of 2013, Frozen is a lovingly crafted, wonderfully nuanced dual-princess fairy tale for the modern age. It isn't quite as well-rounded or gender-neutral as Tangled, and it probably shouldn't have defeated Miyazaki's The Wind Rises for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, but none of that should detract from everything Frozen accomplishes. Disney's Blu-ray release is excellent too... if, that is, you're willing to overlook its terribly anemic half-hour supplemental package, which offers very little insight into the film's production. Fortunately, perfect video and audio have a way of softening the sting of any disappointment, and the studio's stunning video presentation and outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track do just that. (And then some.) Not everyone will warm to Frozen's charms, but I suspect those who do -- essentially anyone who gives the 70-years-in-the-making animated musical a fair shot -- will still be watching the film in twenty years with a new generation of children and grandchildren.
Frozen: Other Editions
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