RELEASE DATE: 30/04/2014
RUN TIME: 1HR 42MIN
|CAST:||KRISTEN BELL - ANNA|
|IDINA MENZEL - ELSA|
|JONATHAN GROFF - KRISTOFF|
|PRODUCER:||PETER DEL VECHO|
It’s been a meteoric rise for ‘Frozen’, from decades in development hell to two Academy Awards and becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time. Stripping away the tedious need to fill the film with pop culture references and lowbrow humour, ‘Frozen’ takes hints from the great Disney films of the 90s and adapts Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale The Snow Queen into a musical spectacle about two sisters trying to reconcile their damaged relationship and accept each other for who they are. While the screenplay has the occasional stumble, the animation is absolutely stunning and the characters are the best Disney has created in such a long time. It also features some truly memorable songs, topped off by the smash hit ballad ‘Let It Go’, which thanks to YouTube might be the most covered song in history. Intelligent, funny and surprisingly moving, ‘Frozen’ is the first bone fide Disney classic in a very long time, and a pop-culture phenomenon impossible to ignore.
Returning to one of their most enduring classics is the focus of ‘Saving Mr Banks’, which covers the relationship between author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) as they battle over the film version of Travers’ ‘Mary Poppins’ novels. What could have been a sentimental mess has turned out to be a genuine and affecting drama that captures the complexity of both its protagonists, as well as the trials faced in the creation of one of the most beloved films ever made. ‘Banks’ is a gorgeous film, beautifully written and designed, recreating perfectly both the Disney studios in the 1960s and Travers’ childhood in rural Queensland. The performances are excellent across the board, with Emma Thompson giving one of her finest and most affecting performances as Travers. Regardless of what the Oscars say, hers is one of the best performances of the past year. Disney had been floundering with their live action films in the past few years, but ‘Saving Mr Banks’ is a significant step in the right direction, and a terrific celebration of why stories and films can touch our lives and change us for the better.
PICTURE & SOUND
For ‘Frozen’, Disney have pulled out all the stops with a stunning 1080p 2.35:1 transfer and a powerful DTS-HD MA 7.1 track. Computer animation always looks great on Blu-ray, but the detailed artistry in ‘Frozen’ really shines in high definition, preserving its carefully constructed cinematic look. The sound blasts out of the speakers, especially when the score really hits its stride. ‘Saving Mr Banks’ doesn’t look quite as impressive, but its 1080p 2.35:1 transfer captures the nostalgic saturated look of the film that gives it its necessary texture. The image is a little soft, but it still preserves its filmic look and this works in its favour. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a delicate one, but services the film wonderfully. Dialogue is placed as the focus, complemented by the subtle sound design and Thomas Newman’s Oscar-nominated score.
Both films are a rare example of Disney using their work of the past to inform new work, and in these cases with exhilarating results.
Both releases continue the troubling trend of Disney releasing their films on Blu-ray with tiny extras packages of mostly forgettable content. For a film as acclaimed and popular as ‘Frozen’ you’d expect something substantial, but the most we get is a short featurette on the history of the project (less than five minutes), along with a Making-Of that turns out to not be a Making-Of at all but a musical skit and some music videos of ‘Let It Go’ in various languages. ‘Saving Mr Banks’ has even less, with a few forgettable deleted scenes, a video of the crew dancing on the last day of the shoot and a featurette on Disney in the 60s that actually has great content but makes you wish there was more to cover the actual film itself. Both films offered ample opportunity for great extras packages but neither opportunity has been embraced, and since Disney aren’t in the habit of double-dipping their releases, don’t expect better versions to turn up anytime soon.