Frozen

Picture
Sound
Extras
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fable The Snow Queen, Frozen opens by introducing us to two princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa has been born with power over cold—a curse she can’t control. To protect Anna and others, Elsa locks herself in her room as the two siblings grow into young adulthood.

But eventually her power is finally and unwittingly unleashed. When Elsa exiles herself to live alone in an icy mountain kingdom, Anna sets off to save her. Along the way, two young men complicate Anna’s quest, one of them a too-anxious suitor, the other a too-reluctant one.

There’s plenty of comic relief here (from a feisty snowman, Olaf, and a cuddly reindeer, Sven), but this is, at its heart, a more serious story than the usual animated fare. Moreover, Frozen is also every inch a musical, a genre that Disney nearly abandoned after a late ’80s and ’90s string of animated musical hits. The songs here are not as consistently brilliant as in, for example, The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, but they’re far from pedestrian. The high point is the brilliant and Oscar-winning showstopper, “Let It Go,” sung by Broadway star and the voice of Elsa, Idina Menzel. The music and visuals in this sequence alone justify the price of this Blu-ray.

614frozen.box.jpgComputer animation has become so sophisticated today that filmmakers likely have to be careful to avoid making animated characters look too real. Otherwise, audiences might think they’ve walked into a theater showing live-action film with CGI effects! No risk of that here, but Frozen’s computer animation is gorgeous. The color, detail, and contrast are breathtaking, and the strikingly designed images will put your jaw firmly on the floor.

The soundtrack begins on a high point as well, with a stunning, wordless chorus. But much of what follows, throughout the film, is dynamically restricted, sparing with its deep bass, amped up in the vocal presence region, and airless on the very top end. As Elsa sings her big number, for example, she enters spaces that should provide at least a hint of ambient reverberation. But instead she sounds like she’s singing in an acoustically dead studio. Compared with Frozen’s soundtrack, the audio is more alive, dynamic, open, and detailed in Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s own Tangled.

The limited extras include the theatrical short Get a Horse, the movie’s teaser trailer, and deleted (storyboarded) scenes, music videos of “Let It Go” in English, Spanish, Italian, and Malaysian (but unfortunately not Idinamenzelian). In one of the two making-of shorts, you suffer a Glee-like chorus of singers and dancers endlessly repeating “How did we make, how did we make, how did we make Frozen?”, until you realize this is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of making-of documentaries!

This set does not include a 3D disc, though the movie was released theatrically in 3D. Might there be a Disney Diamond Edition in our future, with the package including a 3D version?

As I write this, Frozen has just become the highest-grossing theatrical animated feature of all time, a landmark that will likely be enhanced with this Blu-ray release. Despite my reservations about the sound, it’s a must-see for all lovers of great movies, and not just animated ones.

Blu-Ray
Studio: Disney, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.24:1
Audio Format: DTS HD-Master Audio 7.1
Length: 102 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel

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