Blu-ray Review: Disney's Frozen

By , Contributor
With a worldwide box office gross in excess of $1 billion and two Academy Awards (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song - “Let it Go”), it goes without saying that the 53rd entry in Walt Disney’s Animated Classics series is an unqualified smash hit. Frozen arrives as a Blu-ray on March 18, guaranteed to enjoy even greater popularity. Obviously, despite falling somewhat short of the studio’s most perfectly-realized classics, Disney knocked it clear out of the park with this one. Besides the gorgeous digital animation, the tremendously likeable voice cast is the film’s greatest asset. Oh, and of course there’s the effective song score by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Kristen Bell is suitably awkward as Princess Anna, younger sister of soon-to-be Ice Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel). Anna has no idea why she has been shunned by Elsa. The two were extremely close as children (as seen via a joy-turned-scary prologue), until Elsa’s mutant-like ability to freeze anything she touches nearly killed Anna. Trolls are able to save Anna’s life, but in healing her they clear her memory of all knowledge of Elsa’s powers. Forever sequestered for the good of those around her, Elsa emerges years later for her coronation. Anna’s impulsive engagement to Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) sets off a chain reaction that leads to Elsa revealing her dangerous cold-generating abilities. She flees to a mountain fortress, leading Anna on a quest—accompanied by ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a cute snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad)—to coax her back.

Frozen 1 TMR.jpgFrozen works on just about every level, driven by a witty screenplay courtesy of Jennifer Lee (who co-directed with Chris Buck). Some of the traditional romantic conventions of Disney animated films past are amusingly tweaked. Menzel is a vocal powerhouse as Queen Elsa, with her show-stopping “Let it Go” having become an instant standard. “Love is an Open Door,” the sly “love theme” between Anna and Prince Hans, works as a contemporary pop song. Josh Gad’s spotlight number “In Summer” might not exactly drive the narrative, but it’s hilarious. In fact, Gad’s off-kilter voicing of Olaf keeps the character from being an overly cutesy novelty. He manages to walk away with most of the film’s laughs (which is saying something, as Bell is quite funny too).

Frozen 2 TMR.jpgAs the plot thickens with Anna being cursed (by her sister) with a slowly-freezing heart, undoable only by an “act of true love,” the storytelling becomes surprisingly sophisticated. Maybe the youngest viewers will even need some help understanding the finer points, but the relatively dense plotting accounts for a lot of Frozen’s mass appeal. This isn’t a simplistic little story that teens and adults will be bored by. It’s a compelling adventure that includes a number of neat twists and unpredictable moments. At an hour and 42 minutes, it could’ve arguably been tightened just a bit. But it remains a marvel to look at, tuneful to listen to, and easily as re-watchable as any Disney feature in recent memory.

Frozen 3 TMR.jpgAs for visuals, this 1080p, AVC-encoded high definition presentation is sterling in every way. Razor sharp and boldly colorful, the hoary cliché “feast for the eyes” certainly applies to Frozen. The digital animation is wonderfully detailed and inventive to begin with, and on Blu-ray the wide array of textures and atmospheres can be fully appreciated. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix is every bit its equal, with a focus on full-bodied dialogue and bright music. Bottom end is never wanting, especially during the more extravagantly-staged scenes. The wind whooshing around the Snow Queen’s mountain is but one example of the immersive surround elements that make this such an exciting track.

Frozen 4 TMR.jpgSurely Disney could’ve ponied up a few more bonus features for this edition. The “main” feature, if it can be called that, is the seven-minute “D'Frosted: Disney's Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen,” which barely scratches the surface of how the original story was adapted for the film. Four unfinished deleted scenes run a total of about seven minutes, including introductions by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Those who love the song “Let It Go” will enjoy the multiple music videos offered here: one each in English (by Demi Lovato), Spanish (Martina Stoessel), Italian (Stoessel again), and Malaysian (Marsha Milan). None is as good as Idina Menzel’s rendition in the movie. The animated Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse!, which ran before Frozen in theaters, is a nice inclusion considering what a fun cartoon it is.

Frozen making of TMR.jpgOne other extra deserves special note, not because it’s all that valuable but because its presence is so perplexing. The title alone, “The Making of Frozen,” would suggest a behind-the-scenes featurette at the very least, if not an exhaustive piece documenting various aspects of the production. That’s not the case, as this three-minute bit is essentially a jokey tease. The film’s voice actor stars Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Kristen Bell parade around, singing a song about how people want to know about the making of Frozen. Then it ends and there’s no actual “making of” content. I guess we’ll have to wait for a reissue somewhere down the line for any actual insight.

Disney’s Frozen Blu-ray combo pack includes a standard DVD and iTunes-compatible digital copy.

Images: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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