DirectorChris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Release Date(s)2013 (March 18, 2014)
Studio(s)Buena Vista Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C-
Based upon the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Snow Queen,” Frozen tells the story of two sisters torn apart from each after it’s discovered that one of them is born with the ability to freeze things around her with her hands. Fearing their daughter will be an outcast among other people, her royal parents lock her away until she learns to control her powers. When she finally is brought out of isolation for her coronation, she accidentally displays her powers by freezing the entire kingdom. She then runs away and it’s up to her sister to find her and convince her to come home and unfreeze their kingdom.
Frozen, if you weren’t aware of it by now, is probably Disney’s biggest animated success in many years. Not since The Lion King has one of their animated films hit so hard with audiences, and the film’s theme song, “Let it Go,” is one of the biggest reasons for its success. But, for all of its good fortune, I can’t say that I really understand why. I’m not saying that I believe it to be unworthy of anyone’s attention, but I just don’t see what’s so special about it to make it the pop culture phenomenon that it has become. So yes, I’m going to be the naysayer here.
There are some positive points, like how they take traditional fairytale notions and turn them on their heads. I can’t talk about them specifically without getting into spoilers, obviously, but from a character standpoint, it makes things more interesting than they would have been otherwise, as well as setting up a more satisfying ending. You get the impression that it’s going to end one way, and they surprise you with something much better. And of course, there’s also the animation, which is terrific. Those are the main aspects that I dig.
My biggest problem with the film is how song-heavy it is, at least in the beginning. The story doesn’t really hit pavement and get underway until a good half an hour into the proceedings, and by that time, you’ve been bombarded with song after song with none of them really moving the story along as quickly as they should. In other words, things don’t really progress very naturally to keep the story interesting, and as a result, I found it hard to latch onto the film in the beginning. I’ve also never cared for the design of the female characters in the newer Disney animated films, but that’s a moot point because after several successful films utilizing the design, it seems to be the general norm.
It’s a mostly entertaining film overall, filled with lots of great animation, good songs, an ok story, and some decent comic relief. Yet for all of its animated and technical wizardry, Frozen makes for a slightly more interesting family movie than most, but not much more than that. Obviously, I’m not the audience that it was intended for, but for me, the hype surrounding it wasn’t justified. I know it took a lot of hard work and years of development to get Frozen to the screen, which I certainly appreciate, but the final result is far from the masterpiece I was led to believe that it was.
Despite my feelings, Disney’s Blu-ray release of Frozen sports a magnificent presentation, both visually and aurally. There’s not much to say really because it’s superlative in every aspect. It’s full of detail with amazing clarity, vivid colors, deep blacks and perfect contrast and brightness levels. I couldn’t find any flaws with it at all. Everything is as it should be. The audio, which comes in several options (English 7.1 DTS-HD, English Descriptive Video Service 2.0 Dolby Digital, and French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital), is a sonic wallop. The main 7.1 track provides an exceptional surround experience. Dialogue and music are always clean and clear, and sound effects and ambiance envelop you completely. Needless to say, there’s plenty of sound activity, bursting with LFE. So it’s a perfect presentation, in both departments. There are some subtitle options in English SDH, English, French, and Spanish for those who might need them.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the supplemental materials. Geared mostly towards families and with very little interest in showing off how the film came to be (and the years of work that went into making it), a set of lackluster an unsatisfactory extras have been included. There’s the theatrical short Get a Horse!; The Making of Frozen 3-minute featurette; the D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen 7-minute featurette; four deleted scenes with introductions by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee; 4 different music videos of the “Let it Go” song by three different artists (overkill, much?); the film’s original teaser trailer; a set of sneak peeks; and a paper insert with a Digital Copy code and a Disney Movie Rewards code. The DVD that’s also been included features an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack instead of 7.1 DTS-HD, as well as the standard Disney Fast Play option. The extras on the DVD are also identical to those on the Blu-ray, except for the deleted scenes and featurettes. It’s great that at least some deleted scenes were included, but without a more comprehensive making-of segment (or segments), these extras are pretty weak and never permit this release to earn its Collector’s Edition title.
On the positive side, Frozen is certainly an entertaining film for families, which is a good thing. Not too many well-made family films come along that often. Most are cheap, unintelligent and have no real substance to them other than somebody falling down, talking in a high-pitched voice or making bodily noises. Frozen isn’t that, but it’s not perfect either. Few films are, I suppose. As for its Blu-ray release, the video and audio presentations are worth the price, and maybe in a future release they’ll get more into the actual making of the film for enthusiasts.
- Tim Salmons