Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Princess and the Frog: 3-Disc Combo Pack Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 44.7 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: AThe Video
The Princess and the Frog comes to Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Those questioning whether animation gets that big of an improvement on Blu-ray vs. DVD will have their questions answered by Disney, once again.

Animation while always impressive in high-definition can definitely vary as far as improvement from DVD goes. Truth is, upconverted animated DVDs can look quite good and many viewers don’t see how much of an improvement a Blu-ray release would be.

While the DVD copy included on this release looks quite good upconverted, once you put in the Blu-ray you will instantly see the massive upgrade. The movie looks so natural in high-definition, like it was meant to be. Whether it is the natural improvement in clarity or the rich and vibrant colors, or the animation itself, it all shines in high-definition.

The high-def presentation is without a flaw, there are no technical issues to speak of. The film looks magical on Blu-ray; it’s truly impressive and by far one of the most impressive animated releases on Blu-ray yet. Any viewer will be dazzled by the experience that is The Princess and the Frog on Blu-ray. 10/10.

The Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included is and perfectly precise. Additional audio options include a 2.0 English descriptive video service, 5.1 Dolby Digital French, Spanish and Portuguese. Optional subtitles include English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a thing of beauty. The film being animated, I expected everything so sound clear and robust, and it definitely does. Dialogue is prioritized front and center and comes through clear as can be.

The film’s music moments expand to the surround area and definitely immerse you with the New Orleans sounds. The film’s sound effects are also quite active and use the surround speakers nicely; it definitely adds life to the overall mix.

I do wish Disney went with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the mix could have become even more immersive than it already is. I’m sure we will see it on the next release, which is likely many years from now. Like the video presentation, the audio mix is without a flaw. Everything is clear and robust and comes to life. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:

Work In Progress PiP track
A work in progress Picture-in-Picture video track is included for those who would like to view the film with early animation sketches, etc.

Deleted Scenes (11:43) (HD)
Four deleted scenes are included and are presented in high-definition. View the deleted scenes with introductions by Directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

“Never Knew I Needed” Music Video by Ne-Yo (4:04) (HD)
I personally am not a fan of R&B singer Ne-Yo, but fans should be happy to hear that the video is included in high-definition.

Bringing Life to Animation (8:08) (HD)
Includes an introduction by John Musker & Ron Clements. See two live action scenes turned into animation, both with commentary by John Musker & Ron Clements.

Audio Commentary
With Co-writers/Directors John Musker & Ron Clements, and Producer Peter Del Vecho.

Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess (22:12) (HD)
The crew involved in the production of The Princess and the Frog talk working on the film.

The Return to Hand Drawn Animation (2:43) (HD)
A short featurette, featuring production crew interviews about their excitement to return to hand drawn animation.

The Disney Legacy (2:32) (HD)
Animators talk about the Disney legacy and their work in continuing the legacy, sharing stories about their work with the original Disney animators.

Disney’s Newest Princess (2:51) (HD)
This is a feature all about Princess Tiana, who is voiced by Anika Noni Rose. They also talk about her family and the voices behind her mother and father.

The Princess and the Animator (2:26) (HD)
Mark Henn talks about working as supervising animator for Tiana, he has also worked as animator for Belle, Ariel, Jasmine and Mulan.

Conjuring the Villain (1:50) (HD)
It’s only fitting that the villain of the film also gets his own feature. The crew talks about working on the villain character, including his personality and the voice behind the character.

A Return to the Animated Musical (3:14) (HD)
The crew talks about the return to the musical in their films and working with Composer Randy Newman.

Art Galleries
Visual Development
Character Design
Layouts & Backgrounds
Storyboard Art

What Do You See: Princess Portraits
This is an interactive princess guessing game.

BD-Live
Download the latest Disney trailers in both HD and SD viewing options.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film.

Disc 3:

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The extras on this release are quite impressive for a first-time Disney release. Usually Disney tends to save most of their bonus features for future releases, so they can advertise ‘newly found’ or ‘never seen’ bonus features.

The inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy adds a lot of value to this release in my opinion. Being a family film, the chances are your kids will likely want to watch this film in their room or on the road. I’m definitely satisfied by the amount of bonus features on this release and I think most viewers will be too. 9/10.

The Movie
The Princess and the Frog is a film I had been anxiously awaiting to release theatrically since the day it was first announced. This would be the first African American Disney princess and a return to hand drawn animation by Disney.

I had a chance to view the film theatrically so I had already formed my opinion on the film itself prior to the Blu-ray release. Watching the film on Blu-ray only reaffirmed my opinion. The movie is very enjoyable and definitely one of the stronger films from 2009, but I do not think it compares to the Disney classics we have all come to love.

I thought the story of the Princess and the Frog was great for the most part, perhaps they spend a little too much time as frogs though. What I disliked most about the film though, is the music itself. While I have great respect for Composer Randy Newman, I think the music in this film is some of the least memorable in a Disney film.

I love the overall sound of the music, but the musical numbers with singing were just too random to really fall in love with. I also did not like the style of the animation used for the musical number in which Tiana dreams about opening up her restaurant. The animation was certainly stylistic, but it looked very cheap in comparison and I thought it felt rushed. I definitely think it would have been nicer had it been animated like the rest of the movie.

I do love Princess Tiana though, her character is absolutely great and I love her need to make something out of herself. This is not the princess of the past who sings into the well or dances around with animals in hopes of her prince charming coming for her.

The movie is definitely great, but I do find myself more critical of the movie since it comes from Disney, a studio which has brought us so many timeless classics. Overall I think any viewer will like The Princess and the Frog, the real question is whether they will love it or not.

I personally loved it, but I do have some dislikes overall as mentioned. I love the character and the overall story; I just wish the music had been a bit more memorable. Overall though the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and viewers of all ages will find some great enjoyment from The Princess and the Frog. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Princess and the Frog is an enchanting film that will be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. The Blu-ray release is perfection, featuring demo quality video and audio presentations. The extras are also very satisfying. Overall this release is ‘Highly Recommended.

Additional Screenshots:

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