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?
Distributed By: Other
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MVC, 720P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.
Package Includes: Digital Copy
Disc Type: Other
Release Date: 02/25/2014
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.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
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.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D 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.
Audio Rating: 4/5
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.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
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.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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