MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Kristen Bell as ANNA
Idina Menzel as ELSA
Jonathan Groff as KRISTOFF
Josh Gad as OLAF
Santino Fontana as HANS
Alan Tudyk as DUKE
Directed by: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
BY KEVIN CARR
No matter how you look at it, “Frozen” is a phenomenon. Before it was released last fall, there was relatively little awareness out there, even for a movie-centric guy like myself. Prior to Thanksgiving, “Frozen” was nothing more than a new upcoming Disney movie that seemed aimed at fans of the Disney Princess brand.
Then it was released, and all that changed.
The film swept the nation – and the world – by storm, eventually grossing close to $400 million in North America and more than $1 billion worldwide. It won the Oscar, the songs received oodles of play on the radio and via YouTube covers by everyone from little kids to Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators, and the animated landscape seems to exist in a world where “Frozen” has always been.
Like “The Little Mermaid,” “Frozen” takes a Hans Christian Andersen story and gives it a beautiful spin with Disney magic. Elsa (Idina Menzel) is a princess with the amazing ability to control frost, snow and ice. After accidentally freezing her sister as a young girl, Elsa goes into seclusion. Once grown up, Elsa is set to rule while her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) still longs for a relationship. A mishap at a fancy ball causes Elsa to accidentally freeze the kingdom. It’s up to Anna to find her, calm her down and bring her back home.
Even though “Frozen” fits nicely into the Disney Princess mold, it has some significant and progressive differences. First, there’s no distinct bad guy, no wicked witch ready to do evil. Instead, this is a relationship story, where two sisters must overcome their differences. Sure, there’s a bit of a love story with Anna meeting an ice vendor named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), who helps her along the way. It also has the traditional cute sidekick in the form of the magical snowman Olaf (Josh Gad).
However, instead of following the traditional fairy tale story, “Frozen” takes things in a different direction. It ceases being a formulaic Disney animated film and becomes something unique. Of course, this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking for Disney, considering some of the classic movies like “The Jungle Book,” “Lady and the Tramp” and the fiercely differentiated “Fantastia” bucked the formula system fifty years ago.
The movie also makes a return to some other Disney traditions naturally. We get a musical in this film, which was overly pushed in “Princess and the Frog” and ended up not quite clicking with huge audience numbers. The music is great, and many of the songs will stick with you past viewing the film.
Of course, the animation is gorgeous, with ice and snow being one of the best subject matters for computer generated effects. This makes the film a strong sell on the Blu-ray format because you’ll want as much resolution as possible when watching this movie at home. And the uncompressed audio mix of the Blu-ray doesn’t hurt things either.
The bonus features aren’t spectacular, but I’m sure there will be another release down the road, either as a special Christmas edition or after the movie returns to the Disney Vault for a couple years. (In short, if you’re dying for more bonus content, wait for a later release. If you want the film now, get it on Blu-ray and enjoy the additional DVD and Digital Copy option for your kids.)
Bonus content includes the whimsical musical number “The Making of Frozen” as well as a more traditional behind-the-scene “D’frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen.” There are also a slate of deleted scenes, different music video versions of “Let It Go (End Credits Version)” and the Oscar-nominated short “Get a Horse,” which pays homage to old-school black-and-white animation as well as modern 3D animation.