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Frozen Digital 3D Review

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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 26 2014 - 03:26 PM

Frozen Digital 3D Review

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation, both here on Home Theater Forum and on other sites around the internet, regarding Disney’s decision to not release their most recent animated hit film, Frozen, on 3D Blu-ray, and instead release the 3D version to digital distribution exclusively here in the US. That version is now available on VUDU, Wal-Mart’s online video service, but is it really worth the somewhat hefty price tag?

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Studio: Disney

Distributed By: Other

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MVC, 720P/MVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: PG

Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.

Package Includes: Digital Copy

Disc Type: Other

Region: A

Release Date: 02/25/2014

MSRP: $34.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Disney’s Frozen is a surprisingly fresh update to the traditional Disney fairy tale princess formula. As the film opens, we meet four of the main characters as children: Anna, her sister Elsa (who has the power to create ice and snow), Kristoff, and his pet reindeer Sven. When Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the face with an ice blast, knocking her unconscious. Their parents, the King and Queen of Arendelle, take Anna to the troll leader, Pabbie (Ciaran Hinds), who heals her, but in the process removes all memories of Elsa’s powers and warns Elsa that a similar blast to the heart can only be healed by an act of true love, and that she needs to learn to control her powers, with fear being her ultimate undoing. As the years go by, Elsa becomes more and more distant from Anna and those around her, fearing that others will earn of her secret.On coronation day, the castle is opened to the public to witness Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) being crowned as Queen. After the ceremony, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) meets Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), the two fall instantly in love, and ask Elsa for her blessing. Elsa disapproves of the proposed marriage, causing a public argument between her and Anna, causing Elsa to lose control of her powers and subsequently sending Arendelle into an eternal winter as Elsa flees the city. Leaving Hans in control of Arendelle, Anna heads out after her sister. During the search, she runs into Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven during a stop for supplies, and persuades them to help her search for Elsa. But the confrontation does not go well, with Elsa again accidentally striking Anna, this time in the heart. Kristoff rushes Anna to Pabbie, who reminds them that the only thing that can save Anna is an act of true love. Can Kristoff get Anna to her true love in time, and can they get Elsa to lift the eternal winter from Arendelle?While Tangled was a minor return of the Disney animated musical, Frozen is a full-fledged return, with a total of nine strong songs from writing team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Winnie the Pooh) and score by Christophe Beck (Date Night). The voice cast is also strong (who knew that Kristen Bell could sing?), that also includes Alan Tudyk (who channels Hans Conried as the Duke of Weselton), Josh Gad (snowman Olaf, who almost steals the movie), as well as veterans Edie McClurg, Robert Pine, and Maurice LaMarche. But what makes Frozen such a breath of fresh air is how it takes the traditional Walt Disney fairy tale princess genre, and then breaks that convention. The villain of the piece is not who you think it is, and the script even does a double twist on the act of true love that will save Anna's life. Directors Chris Buck (Surf's Up) and first-timer Jennifer Lee keep the story moving at a steady pace, either with production numbers (that never seem to stop the story), action sequences, or humor set pieces. It is no wonder this has been one of Disney's first major animated hits in a long time.


Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: 4/5

The copy provided to me for review only included the 3D version, so that is all that will be reviewed here. Although VUDU provides an HDX stream that supports 1080p resolution and an HD stream with 720p, the hardware you use as your playback device (as well as your internet speed) will determine the quality of your presentation.The equipment used for this review:Samsung UN60F7100 LED 3D HDTVSamsung SSG-5100GB Active 3D GlassesSony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray PlayerSony PlayStation 3 (120Gb Slim)Marantz SR-5008 Receiver (in 5.1 configuration)Polk Tsi100 Bookshelf SpeakersPolk CS10 Center Channel SpeakerOSD PS10 SubwooferOSD SPHERE-1 Satellite SpeakersOn the Sony BDP-S5100, when selecting the HDX stream, my TV indicated it was receiving a 1080/24p 3D signal. Switching to the HD stream resulted in a 720/60p 3D signal. Regardless of which stream I chose on the PS3, the TV would only receive a 720/60p feed from the game console. Switching back to the VUDU menu on the PS3 resulted in a 1080/60p feed. For purposes of this review, the entire feature was viewed in HDX from the BDP-S5100 in 1080/24p 3D.The first thing I noticed, as the movie started, was that the Disney logo was slightly shifted to the right, leaving a black gap on the left side of the screen. This quickly corrected itself once the Walt Disney Animation Studios logo began, filling the entire width of my TV, and the film remained this way for the rest of the feature. Out of curiosity, I selected the 2-minute preview of the 2D version on VUDU, and the Disney logo filled the width of my screen (see the comparison below).Colors are vibrant, as one would expect in a Disney animated feature, and detail is also very good, particularly in the textures of Olaf's carrot nose and Sven's fur. Black levels are also very good, but nowhere near as good as I've seen on other Disney 3D Blu-ray titles. I also noticed a few minor, barely noticeable, banding issues during the Let It Go production number as Elsa builds her ice castle.As with most Disney and Pixar 3D animated titles, the 3D is used more to show depth in the image rather than pop-outs. This depth is done extremely well (much as it was on Wreck It Ralph), giving a grand sense of distance not only between characters but during the journeys the characters take throughout the course of the story. Snow is also well-done in 3D, with an occasional speck almost breaking out from the front plane several times. Olaf's nose also comes very close on several occasions to break that front plane.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The only audio option is a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack in English. Dialogue is clear throughout, especially during the musical numbers. Bass response is quite good, although there's not a whole lot of discrete LFE effects worth noting. Surround activity seemed limited to music and some occasional discrete effects, but still provided an immersive experience. Having been released theatrically in Dolby Atmos, I was expecting a much more aggressive surround mix.


Special Features Rating: 0/5

If you purchase the 3D only edition (for $34.99), unfortunately that comes with no additional features whatsoever. What is disappointing, though, is that VUDU does offer a 2D/3D bundle (for $35.99) that not only includes the short Get A Horse (in 2D, however), it also includes five featurettes (The Making of Frozen, D'frosted: Disney's Journey From Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen, Deleted Scenes, Music Videos, and Teaser Trailer). I contacted VUDU to inquire if it was possible to upgrade my 3D version to the 2D/3D bundle, and was told that due to licensing issues, that was not possible, and I would have to purchase the 2D version to get the bonus materials and the ability to watch Frozen on my portable devices.


Overall Rating: 3/5

The price tag of $34.99 is pretty hefty when you consider all you get is the movie in 3D and nothing more. To make matters worse, the 3D version will not play back on non-3D equipment (or so says VUDU), so if you really want the 3D version, just make sure you purchase the 2D/3D bundle for that extra dollar more. If Disney is reading this review, it would be really nice if either the bonus features were also available with the 3D version, or allow those who do purchase the 2D version in March the ability to upgrade the included digital copy to 3D for a nominal ($5 or less) fee.


Reviewed By: Todd Erwin


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#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 26 2014 - 03:36 PM

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The voice cast is also strong (who knew that Kristen Bell could sing?)

 

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#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 26 2014 - 03:39 PM

Disney3D.jpg

Opening logo from 3D version

 

Disney2D.jpg

Opening logo from 2D version



#4 of 34 OFFLINE   bujaki

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Posted February 26 2014 - 05:08 PM

If you watch the Disney clip of 25 singers singing "Let It Go" in their vernacular languages, you will notice that the worst voice, imo, belongs to Idina Menzel. Why is nasal singing considered attractive? Bell, Groff, they can sing.

Start slinging the brickbats, Idinettes!



#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Ejanss

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Posted February 26 2014 - 06:01 PM

Well, at least it's a "Greatest Disney movie ever!" review from someone who actually SAW Wreck-It Ralph...

I was beginning to think that at least 80% of the core fans hadn't, and were coming in straight off of Tangled (both of which I thought were better by a mile).



#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted February 26 2014 - 11:12 PM

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Remembering DIVX, that failed pay-per-use DVD format that was a topic of intense hatred back in 1998-99 but seems to have been mostly forgotten about now, I have to say that this scheme of releasing stuff via 'digital' weeks ahead of disc feels very similar to DIVX. Buying a movie this way is about the same as buying an unlimited-play DIVX disc- you can only watch it on your registered devices, and it can be taken off-line at any time for any reason. The industry is pushing towards this by releasing titles early, but I will NEVER buy a movie this way, and if it becomes the only way to buy movies then I will just stop buying them period. It's just a bit disheartening that people aren't as up in arms about this as they were with DIVX.


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#7 of 34 OFFLINE   DennisBassi

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Posted February 27 2014 - 02:29 AM

+1

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted February 27 2014 - 04:41 AM

So you can buy the UK Blu-ray 3D for $30 including shipping to the US, that has Get a Horse in 3D and extras. Or, you can pay $40 for the same except it's the digital version and Get a Horse is in 2D.


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#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted February 27 2014 - 06:18 AM

Yeah, Disney screwed the pooch on this one. I'm expecting it to be a 'worst of 14' contender Roland. I ordered the UK version a month ago...

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#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted February 27 2014 - 07:39 AM

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"If Disney is reading this review, it would be really nice if either the bonus features were also available with the 3D version, or allow those who do purchase the 2D version in March the ability to upgrade the included digital copy to 3D for a nominal ($5 or less) fee."

 

My comment: If Disney is reading this review, I, and I imagine many other people here, are completely incensed that you are neglecting (actually, actively screwing) those who want 3-D hard copies. What is with you people? Every "experiment" you make lately with 3-D only copies (GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ), bonus features scattered among retailers, horrible digital noise-reduction (SWORD IN THE STONE and others), and now download-only 3-D editions, is another affront to the thousands of Disney fans who have supported your home video department for decades. Shame on you. NO SALE.



#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted February 27 2014 - 11:22 AM

It's been said that Disney and other studios want the industry to go completely to "digital" and eliminate media altogether, as that would reduce their costs and give them more control over content. Again, this feels very similar to DIVX, which Disney was a big supporter of- remember when they released Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo on DIVX long before they were on regular DVD? Some people were so mad about that, they cancelled planned trips to Disneyland and boycotted everything Disney was behind for a while. In fact, I remember in the "official Home Theater Forum Rules", one of them was "This is an anti-DIVX forum- any post that preaches the virtues of DIVX will be removed." It's too bad that the same sentiments apparently aren't felt about this.

 

It would be one thing if this digital thing were offered as a choice to those who like it, but by releasing movies on it early it's obvious that studios want to force it on us. Not to mention that the picture and sound quality STILL can't quite match Blu-Ray, and the Vudu apps on neither my 3D TV or 3D-supporting Blu-Ray player do not support Vudu 3D, so I couldn't buy this for $35 even if I wanted to.

 

What does everyone think is going to happen when Disney titles go "back in the Vault"? Who's to say they won't just take movies offline, so even if you've "bought" them you won't be able to watch them if they don't want you to?  (This has already happened with adult movies on Vudu- when Wal-Mart bought the company, they took all of those offline. They were nice enough at least to give refunds, but if someone came in my house and took my discs, leaving money for them wouldn't make me forgive them.) There's just too many "what ifs" for me to support this scheme.


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#12 of 34 OFFLINE   RetroGuy

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Posted February 27 2014 - 03:32 PM

If you watch the Disney clip of 25 singers singing "Let It Go" in their vernacular languages, you will notice that the worst voice, imo, belongs to Idina Menzel. Why is nasal singing considered attractive? Bell, Groff, they can sing.

Start slinging the brickbats, Idinettes!

 

+1

 

I've always found her singing to be very strident.  Glad I'm not the only one.



#13 of 34 OFFLINE   McCrutchy

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Posted February 27 2014 - 08:17 PM

Did HTF really need to legitimize (and draw attention to) the 3D download by reviewing it officially? 

 

I realize that it's Home Theater Forum and not Physical Media Forum, but I don't want to live in a world that acknowledges virtual digital files (3D or not) as part of home theater. 

 

The recent going on with Netflix removing and constantly re-shuffling digital content has proved what I strongly suspected--that embrace of streaming and downloading is a loss for the consumer (and, especially, the enthusiast) and a win for the studio.

 

The less press these formats get, the better.



#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 27 2014 - 10:09 PM

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I wouldn't call Todd's evaluation a ringing endorsement of the title. Giving an honest review of something new has more value than ignoring it or just burying your head in the sand

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Ejanss

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Posted February 28 2014 - 01:25 AM

I wouldn't call Todd's evaluation a ringing endorsement of the title. Giving an honest review of something new has more value than ignoring it or just burying your head in the sand

 

This is the column for reviewing DVD and digital, so the digital got a review.  (ahem) WHEN the Frozen 3D disk gets a release in November, it'll get a Blu-ray review then.  In the proper column for it.

Those who are concocting symbolic theories about this release being "The beginning of the end!  Burn the harbinger of the apocalypse!", please find more constructive real-world uses of your time.



#16 of 34 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted February 28 2014 - 03:35 AM

Can't we already review the UK BD?(Not seen the movie. Not seen a "Disney" movie in years. Not Wreck it Ralph, nor Tangled, nor...)Is the UK BD in anybody's possession?(by above, I have no idea If it is out in the wild)RAH has done his take on at least one UK BD.

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Ejanss

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Posted February 28 2014 - 10:59 AM

Can't we already review the UK BD? (Not seen the movie. Not seen a "Disney" movie in years. Not Wreck it Ralph, nor Tangled, nor...)

 

....Anything else that's been made since we (thankfully) kicked Eisner out?  Like the song says, let it go.

 

You might want to give both Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph a try (before moving on to Bolt and Meet the Robinsons), as they're currently the state of the studio.  I'm of the opinion they're both a lot better than this one--which I thought was too Lifetime-skewed, too much of a Tony-stagebound Broadway musical, had a heroine reduced to sitcom-babbling, and lacked the emotional pathos of both Ralph and Rapunzel--but that's just IMHO.



#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 28 2014 - 11:32 AM

So you can buy the UK Blu-ray 3D for $30 including shipping to the US, that has Get a Horse in 3D and extras. Or, you can pay $40 for the same except it's the digital version and Get a Horse is in 2D.

 

I don't understand Disney's marketing plan. Asking customers to pay more for less is never a winning strategy, and the UK Blu-ray is region-free. So why would anyone want to pay $40 for the digital version?


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#19 of 34 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted February 28 2014 - 11:46 AM

So it's a good movie but it's another that plays it safe with the 3D, pity.


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#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 28 2014 - 11:48 AM

Can't we already review the UK BD? (Not seen the movie. Not seen a "Disney" movie in years. Not Wreck it Ralph, nor Tangled, nor...) Is the UK BD in anybody's possession?(by above, I have no idea If it is out in the wild) RAH has done his take on at least one UK BD.

Street date is March 31 for the UK BD. I suspect Ron will have his take on that release in early April.







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