Disney’s Frozen Is A Warm, Entertaining Story

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Officials with Walt Disney Studios told audiences in 2010 that when it released its most recent fairy tale based movie Tangled that that movie would be the last of the studio’s “princess movies” for a while. Apparently, that didn’t last very long, as Disney introduced a new princess last year in its hugely touted movie Frozen. Walt Disney himself had wanted to do a movie based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Snow Queen during his life, according to one of the bonus features included in the movie’s new home release. Taking that into consideration, it would have been interesting to see how his adaptation would have looked had it ever come to fruition. In the absence of that potential imagining, audiences have been given Frozen. This take on Andersen’s fairy tale is not the worst of Disney’ s movies. On the other hand, it is also not one of the studio’s best, either. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. The combination of the good and bad make Frozen a movie at least worth a single watch with the family, but not much more.

Frozen is neither Disney’s best nor its best. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. So we’ll start with one of the positives. The main positive that Frozen boasts is its writing. Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee and her staff of writers—Chris Buck, Shane Morris, and Dean Wellins–crafted in her script a story that is a surprisingly refreshing breath of fresh air in comparison to Disney’s past fairy tale adaptations. So much can be noted of the writing behind this story. Audiences that enjoyed Disney’s last princess movie, Tangled, will enjoy this movie much for the same reasons as that story. It boasts a strong, self-confident female lead and nonstop laughs from the buddy comedy between Kristoff and his loyal moose Sven. More than anything though, audiences will appreciate the message of sisterhood and the surprise twist included in the story’s dual underlying romance subplot. Lee and company lead viewers to think they know what will happen with the romance subplot only to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the works near the end. All of these elements collectively would have made Mr. Disney proud. It proves that Lee and he writers really thought about what they put into the story. They didn’t want to just make another princess movie. They wanted to make something that stood out. And it definitely does thanks to that attention to detail.

The attention to detail on the part of Frozen’s writing staff and lead Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee make this a movie worth at least one watch with the family. It makes the movie stand out in a good way. While their work makes the movie stand out in a good way, it also stands out in a not so good way. It stands out in a not so good way because of its musical numbers. It’s not so much the musical numbers that are at issue here. Rather, it is the number of musical numbers and the pace at which they come that is at issue. It seems like there is a musical number every few minutes or so. By comparison to Disney’s past musical adaptations, the amount of musical numbers in this movie and the pace at which they come is astounding. It’s very Broadway style. The obvious argument here is that some of Disney’s best movies have been turned into Broadway musicals. This is true. But those same musicals that were translated to the stage also didn’t have near as many musical numbers as this movie. So again, it becomes the story’s one central issue. Luckily, it is the only real noticeable negative to the overall presentation.

The musical numbers incorporated into Frozen and the pace at which they come are collectively the only truly noticeable negative to the movie’s overall presentation. That is a good thing for this movie. That means that the positives outweigh the negatives, and make the movie more worth the watch if only once. Now that it has been released on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack, there is one more positive worth noting about this movie. That positive is the bonus featurette outlining the history behind this movie and how Walt Disney had actually wanted to craft a movie based on The Snow Queen even some seventy years ago. The comparisons of the original concept art for that proposed movie to what was crafted for this movie are quite eye-opening. There are even discussions on the ride that would be spawned as a result of the originally proposed movie. There is much more in-depth material that comes from this central bonus feature. And audiences will get to find out just how much more when they purchase the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack. That central bonus feature along with the movie’s central story, are enough to make up for the movie’s one glaring negative. And because of that, they make Frozen worth at least one watch, if no more.

Frozen can be purchased now in stores and online via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/frozen-blu-ray-collectors-edition/mp/1349621/1000316/. More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios and http://twitter.com/disneypictures. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Another Welcome Re-Issue From Disney

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular of all of its fairy tales.  The story, which centers on the romance between a human and young mermaid, originally debuted in theaters almost twenty-four years ago.  November 17th will mark the twenty-fourth anniversary of the film’s debut.  And until this year, the last time that Disney had re-issued to the movie for home release was seven years ago in 2006.  Considering all of this, it comes as a little bit of a surprise that Disney decided to go ahead and re-issue the classic story well over a year ahead of what will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of its big screen debut.  That aside, it’s still a welcome addition for any fan of Disney’s princess franchise.  The most important aspect of this movie’s success (as with any movie) is its script.  Considering that well over thirty years had passed between the original debut of this movie and Disney’s last fairy tale feature before it, Sleeping Beauty, this movie actually has so much more depth than most viewers might see.  It is more than just a romantic drama.  It actually boasts plenty of comedy, too.  It also has both a coming of age story of sorts within its bounds as well as an allegory about acceptance and tolerance.  The movie’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue makes it even more interesting a watch.  That’s because of a pair of bonus features included in the package.  All of this together makes Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid another of Disney’s most memorable movies in its modern era.

When Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid premiered on November 17th, 1989, well over thirty years had passed between that premiere and the premiere of Disney’s last fairy tale feature, Sleeping Beauty.  Disney established its reputation on the back of not only that movie, but also the likes of Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Those features made Disney a leader in the movie business.  So much time having passed, it would have been easy for the people at Disney to slip up with The Little Mermaid.  But as the final product revealed, the studio did anything but slip up.  The script behind the movie is on the surface, a standard fairy tale story.  On a much deeper level though, it also includes a strong coming of age storyline.  Princess Ariel is a teenager.  She is sixteen years-old to be exact.  So it could be argued that her youth and naivety is what feeds the romantic drama that is to follow.  It also is what leads to her personal growth and love and respect for her father.  To that extent, it actually makes The Little Mermaid more than just another one of Disney’s princess movies.  It gives the story a certain amount of depth.

Ariel’s coming of age story is only part of what gives The Little Mermaid depth.  It could also be argued that the feature’s script hides in plain sight, an allegory about acceptance and understanding.  The allegory works in more than one way, too.  The allegory about acceptance and understanding comes in the form of King Triton having to learn to accept that his preconceived notions about humans are not entirely right.  Prince Eric proves that.  He eventually has to come to accept that despite being from another world of sorts, humans are not as bad as he had always led himself and his people to believe.  If viewers can allow themselves to take into consideration both of these story elements, they will see that The Little Mermaid in fact has more going for it than being just another princess movie.  It becomes even more worth watching at least once if not adding to one’s home library.

The subtle story elements tied into The Little Mermaid’s primary romantic drama storyline add a whole new depth and appreciation for the classic adaptation.  Now that the movie has been re-issued on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, viewers have even more reason to appreciate it.  That’s thanks to the inclusion of a pair of bonus features included in the new Blu-ray disc.  One of those features centers on producer/songwriter Howard Ashman.  “Howard’s Lecture” focuses on Ashman and how his experience with and love for musical theater helped make The Little Mermaid a *ahem* splash with audiences (bad pun fully intended).  The vintage footage of Ashman discussing the film’s different aspect add to the movie’s value because of the figure it portrayed.  Audiences see in Ashman someone who is the total antithesis of the stereotypical Hollywood type.  He comes across as having been down to earth and entirely humble.  Those that knew Ashman best also share their insights into the type of person he was.  And it corresponds perfectly with the figure presented in the lecture.  The fact that one of his friends would tear up in speaking about him shows just how valued he was not just to the movie but as a person.  That emotion and the feature as a whole make “Howard’s Speech” an invaluable addition to this new re-issue.  It makes the presentation in whole that much more impressive.

“Howard’s Lecture” is an invaluable addition to the bonus features included in this latest re-issue of The Little Mermaid.  There is one other feature included in this re-issue that audiences will agree makes the movie even more worth watching.  The feature in question explains in depth how those behind the movie maintained Disney’s long standing tradition of basing its animated features on live action actors.  It explains how just as with Alice In Wonderland, Snow White, and others those behind this movie based their storyboards on live action “models.”  This was done to get the most realism possible out of the animation.  This is something used to this day by Disney’s partner studio, Pixar.  Add in the fact that the movie was crafted entirely via hand drawn animation instead of computers makes this an even more important addition for viewers to check out.  And together with “Howard’s Lecture” and the subtle extra story elements tied into the story, it all comes together to make this twenty-fourth anniversary re-issue of The Little Mermaid that much more worth adding to any family’s home library or that of any true film buff.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://movies.disney.com/the-little-mermaid and http://www.disneystore.com/disney-princess/little-mermaid/mn/1000031/?searchRedirect=1&searchTerm=the+little+mermaid&catalogFromSearch=10002.  More information on this and other Disney releases is available via both websites, too.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.