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The Princess and the Frog(2009)
A modern twist on a classic tale, set in the great city of New Orleans, where a beautiful girl named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) meets a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again. A fateful kiss leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.
For more about The Princess and the Frog and the The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray release, see The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 4, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Musker, Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jim Cummings, Jennifer Lewis
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
» See full cast & crew
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray Review
A classic fairy tale gets a jazzy N'Orleans makeover...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 4, 2010
December 21, 1937. After enduring years of skepticism and overcoming countless obstacles, both creative and financial, a brave young visionary by the name of Walter Elias Disney gave the world its first animated feature film. Perhaps you've heard of it: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It swept audiences away to a Technicolor dreamscape; an absorbing fairy tale wonderland unlike anything anyone, young or old, had ever seen on the silver screen. It not only emerged as an overnight success, it afforded Disney the rare opportunity to do it all over again, first with Fantasia and Pinocchio, then with Dumbo and Bambi; classics that would go on to launch a now-indelible genre and stand the test of time. But the house that Uncle Walt built would eventually face hardship. Competing studios and hurried releases diluted the waters. Home video and Saturday morning cartoons weakened animation's theatrical swagger. And an explosion of CG-born hits cast doubt on the viability of hand-drawn films. By the end of 2004, a trio of misfires -- Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range -- seemed to signal the death knell of a long-standing institution. Thank the maker for risk-takers and purists like Pixar's John Lasseter and filmmaking duo John Musker and Ron Clements. Mounting a highly anticipated return to hand-drawn form, they delivered The Princess and the Frog, an arresting showcase piece in the tradition of Disney's finest that deserves its place in the studio's animation canon.
Loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, "The Frog Prince," and the 2002 E. D. Baker novel, "The Frog Princess," Disney's 49th animated feature focuses on a young woman named Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), a waitress and aspiring restaurant owner struggling to get by in 1920s New Orleans. But all that changes when a desperate prince named Naveen (Bruno Campos) -- a royal suitor transformed into a common swamp frog by an evil voodoo priest named Dr. Facilier (Keith David) -- approaches Tiana, mistaking her for a princess. Begging her for a kiss, and promising her whatever she wants in return, Naveen is shocked when the girl puckers up, plants one on his amphibious lips, and promptly turns into a frog herself. Now, as the pair race to undo the curse, they find help in the unlikeliest of places: in the company of a trumpet-packing alligator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), under the guidance of a gumbo-mouthed firefly named Ray (Jim Cummings), and in the presence of a kindly voodoo queen affectionately called Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis). But can they survive the dangers of the bayou? Can they escape the swamp's bumbling frog hunters, defeat Dr. Facilier's relentless shadow beasts, and discover a way to become human again? More importantly, will they turn on each other, or overlook the bond developing between them? Or will they learn a little something about life and love along the way?
Despite the N'Orleans spice and I teahl yoo whut-rhythms that permeate Musker and Clements' vivacious vision of Louisiana in the Roaring '20s, The Princess and the Frog tells a familiar tale of lovelorn souls and star-crossed loners; the sort of story Disney animation has celebrated since Prince Charming first set his eyes on Snow White. And that isn't a bad thing at all. Tiana may be the first African American Disney princess -- a notable milestone to be sure -- but that doesn't distract the film's directors or animators for a second. Theirs is a living, breathing bayou of clashing classes, immovable dreams, and unwavering hope; a world ripe with good intentions and better people. But it's also a city plagued by greedy opportunists and selfish charlatans; a breeding ground for evil and manipulation. At the same time, it inhales and exhales Creole culture, delivering one of the most fully realized, most unexpectedly resonant fairy tale kingdoms in Disney history. The filmmakers have left no mossy stone unturned: music bobs and weaves through the air, jazz simmers in the streets, and improvisation appears in every warm expression and lightning-quick gesture the Kid Ory regulars drum up. There are times when it all seems ready to burst and spill out of the screen, overtaking anyone willing to submerse themselves in Tiana's homeland; times when swirling light and piercing trumpet calls have their way with the senses, inviting feet to tap along to the music, eyes to go wide, and mouths to smile. But it never grows unwieldy, and it never spins out of control.
If The Princess and the Frog comes up short, it's because each individual element of the film is so potent, so vital and vibrant, that they sometimes fail to mesh as well as they should. Tiana and Naveen tend to get lost in a parade of lumbering alligators, exuberant musical numbers, Mardis Gras extravagance, blazing magic, and otherworldly delights. That's not to say they aren't memorable characters, just that their stature -- both physical and emotional -- limits their ability to stand out in a rather fanciful crowd. Even so, their plight is enough to hold the attention of busy adults and bouncing kids. Sure, young girls will get the most out of the Disney Princess Marketing Machine lurking within the film's shadows, but it's clear Musker and Clements aren't interested in selling Tiana dolls or tea sets. The pair politely pluck heart strings and draw their croaking couple closer together to deliver more meaningful messages: that love is more fulfilling than ambition, that happiness is more important than success, that value lies within regardless of how much wealth lies without. Decidedly modern lessons designed for the soon-to-be women of tomorrow; workers and mothers who will be challenged to balance their lives and careers; to be dutiful parents and invaluable upstarts in an increasingly progressive society. Suffice to say, Musker and Clements' messages are far more applicable to your daughters than the antiquated, pink-n-frilly find your darling prince-nonsense clogging the heart of other Disney Princess mainstays.
No, The Princess and the Frog isn't the second coming of hand-drawn animation (although it comes quite close), and no, it isn't the best Disney film of this or any generation. However, it is an exciting and lively fairy tale sure to enthrall the young, imaginative minds in your home. Fun, entertaining, and bursting with song and dance, it's an invigorating animated film the whole family can enjoy. Don't pass it by.
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney's beautiful hand-drawn homecoming arrives on Blu-ray with a rich, absolutely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded marvel that perfectly captures every nuance of the animation team's spirited lineart, every splash of wondrous color that erupts on screen, and every errant brush stroke that lends the film's painterly backdrops such heart and soul. Earthy greens and browns, savory blues and golds, and bottomless blacks are just the beginning; The Princess and the Frog's sweltering bayou palette is a sight to behold. Contrast is impeccable throughout (even when night and shadow surge), and color fills remain strong and stable regardless of how complex or elaborate a sequence becomes. Detail is flawless as well. Witness the spontaneity of the animators' lively lines, the tiny creases and wrinkles that grace Mama Odie's expressive face, the tiniest firefly rushing to light Tiana and Naveen's path. Moreover, I didn't spot any artifacting, aliasing, or edge enhancement, and I didn't catch any instances of banding (every animation enthusiast's sworn nemesis). I hesitate to use the word "never" -- I'm sure a frame-by-frame analysis would reveal some split-second mishap -- but I doubt anyone will find anything worth complaining about when the film is in motion. All in all, The Princess and the Frog offers yet another amazing animated presentation from a studio that values its animation above all else. Regardless of how you respond to the film itself, prepare to be blown away by its striking high definition video transfer.
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Princess and the Frog makes a grand Mardis Gras-inspired entrance with a rousing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The songs may not be as memorable as Disney's finest, but they certainly grab hold of your ear, reveling in the tom-tom-tom of leathery bass beats, the riz-dat-dat of rustling snare drums, and the crooning cries of an army of trumpets. Randy Newman's music comes alive time and time again, arriving from every direction and elevating the film well beyond the confines of the most devoted filmfan's home theater. Dialogue and sound effects follow suit, blessed with smart prioritization, crisp voices and tones, and excellent fidelity. Lines never drown in the swamps or languish in the humid New Orleans air; vocal performances are clean and clear; consistent LFE support infuses the entire experience with hearty booms and thooms; and rear speaker activity is aggressive, inviting, and altogether immersive. Just listen as Ray buzzes from channel to channel. Pay attention to Mama Odie's honey-dripped magic as it swirls about the soundfield. Bask in the chatty Louisiana streets, the prim and proper high society crowds, and the fertile grounds of the bayou. Directionality is precise and pans are silky smooth; dynamics are expansive and the soundscape is swimming with subtle movement and acoustic prowess. Make no mistake, The Princess and the Frog is an assault on the senses audiophiles of all ages will welcome with open arms.
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of The Princess and the Frog continues to impress with a notable supplemental package; one that includes a Picture-in-Picture experience, a captivating commentary, and a solid collection of featurettes. As an added bonus, the 3-disc set comes with both a standard DVD and Digital Copy of the film. High definition junkies may shake their heads, but most families, especially those with DVD players in their cars and children's playrooms, will enjoy the flexibility this multi-format release provides.
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Princess and the Frog may not be the insta-classic its most ardent fans and many critics have declared it to be, but it does represent a triumphant return to form for a studio built on the magic and artistry of hand drawn animation. Thankfully, Disney's Blu-ray release is a magnificent one. Its dazzling video transfer is as perfect as they come, its powerful DTS-HD Master Audio track is a sonic miracle in its own right, and its extensive supplemental package adds substantial value to the high definition proceedings. Few films warrant a blind buy, but anyone with children would be wise to skip a rental and drop this excellent release directly into their shopping carts.
The Princess and the Frog: Other Editions
The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Princess and the Frog UK Blu-ray Announced - May 27, 2010
The UK branch of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced the release of the 2D animated title The Princess and the Frog, which is slated for June 21. It will come in two editions: a Blu-ray/DVD combi pack and a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy superset.
• Today on Blu-ray - March 16th - March 16, 2010
When Disney purchased Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, one of the most influential factors behind the acquisition, besides acquiring the top computer animation studios in the world, was that John Lasseter, one of the powerhouses behind the rise of Pixar, would ...
• Disney Offering $10 Coupon for Princess and the Frog Blu-ray - March 15, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has a printable $10 off coupon good for the purchase of the The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack during its first week in stores. This coupon is redeemable at participating retailers, and there are ...
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