Starting with the 1931 Silly Symphony short, “The Ugly Duckling,” the stories of Hans Christian Andersen have long been a great source of inspiration and success for the Walt Disney Company. The 1939 color remake of that short won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Fifty years later, The Little Mermaid was the first film in the decade-long Disney Renaissance when the studio returned to its former glory. And now there is Frozen, the 53rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and arguably the greatest Andersen adaptation by Disney, which at the time of this writing sits at #12 on the All-Time Worldwide Box Office list
Inspired by The Snow Queen, which had been in development numerous times at the company, Frozen tells the story about the relationship between two sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has the ability to create and control ice and snow, and her younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell). When they were children, Elsa accidentally injured Anna with her powers. Concerned about Elsa's ability to control herself, her father, the King of Arendelle, decides to hide her away from everyone. Elsa's guilt over what she had done causes her to stay away from her sister, which confuses Anna, whose memory of the incident was erased.
As the years pass, Elsa's powers grow. She comes of age and Coronation Day is planned where she will be made Queen. Anna is excited by the prospect because she thinks with the castle being opened up for the ceremony she might meet her true love among the visitors. And she does just that with the first man she meets, Prince Hans of Southern Isles, fits and they want to get married, which Elsa is against. The sisters argue at the reception, which causes Elsa to lose control of her powers. She scares everyone and is considered a monster, leading her to run away into the mountains and causing a severe snowstorm that cripples Arendelle. Anna chases after her and finds help from mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and Olaf, the living snowman (Josh Gad).
What works best in Frozen is the way the story plays with viewers' expectations and Anna's. She's the hero of the story and doesn't realize it. While Kristoff would serve as the traditional hero in most stories, Anna is the smart, brave one who usually gets them out of situations. It's a refreshing change, as is the climax when an act of true love is required to save the day. The film is filled with good humor, especially from Olaf who dreams of the warmth of summer days. Although I didn't find many of the songs memorable, the Oscar-winning “Let It Go” is a worthy addition to the classic-filled Disney catalog. It's a memorable pop song filled with empowering lyrics.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2:24:1. While CGI animation has its understandable detractors from those who prefer hand-drawn animation, the visuals here are very impressive. The colors come through in vivid hues. Blacks are very rich and whites are quite bright. There are many fine details that will catch your eye.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track offers an immersive experience. Dialogue is always clear, and the songs and music fill the surrounds as do the effects, which are positioned well among the soundscape. There's a wide dymanic range anchored by the booming LFE, which delivers a very strong bottom end, as heard during the storms and the actions of the ice castle guard.
Extras are light and will surely be expanded in future editions that are certain to come. “Get A Horse” (HD, 6 min) is the Mickey Mouse short that accompanied Frozen. It's very funny, getting many of its jokes by playing with the film format and forms of animation. The Making of Frozen (HD, 3 min) features three of the film's stars in a silly skit. D'frosted: Disney's Journey from Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen (7 min) offers a brief look at how the story finally was adapted into a feature. Should have gone into more depth. Four Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 min) with Introductions by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee show storyboards accompanied by audio. Under Music Videos (HD, 16 min) there are four different versions of “Let It Go” (End Credit Cersion) by Demi Lovato (English), Martina Stoessel (Spanish and Italian), and Marsha Milan (Malaysian). Lastly is the original teaser trailer (HD, 2 min). Am surprised they had no kareoke option so kids could singalong to the movie.
Although those looking for an more expansive collection of extras may want to forego this first release of Frozen, those interested in the movie itself will surely be satisifed with this. It delivers an enjoyable story those who haven't seen it and an outstanding high-def presentation. Recommended.