Frozen and Saving Mr. Banks head March releases from Disney

Mar 19, 2014- Permalink

Another trip to the mailbox and another bounty of titles from Disney.

Though John Travolta may have messed up Idina Menzel’s name – or is it Adele Dazeem’s? — fans of Frozen know her rendition of Let It Go word by word. Frozen took home two Academy Awards – Best Animated Feature and Best Song – and now you can take it home on Blu-Ray. The film follows the quest of Princess Anna (Kristin Bell) to find her snow Queen sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) after an incident plunges their kingdom into an endless winter. Joined by an ice cutter, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and a talking snowman (Josh Gad), Anna makes her way through a world of ice and snow in a quest that takes us back to the classic animated musicals like Beauty and the Beast. Fully rounded characters and Broadway-worthy tunes make this one a keeper.

Frozen’s 1080p video transfer obviously benefits from the fact that it’s moving from digital source to digital output. A film set in winter needs to have clean whites and dark blacks and enough detail for the littlest snowflake and the blu-ray disc delivers.

A movie musical with howling winds, soaring songs and cracking ice needs a worthy audio presentation and Frozen delivers there too with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. The lower end of things adds gravitas where needed and the other channels surround you in Frozen’s world so well that you may end up watching it in a parka.

While a hot chocolate on a cold day is fine, extras like whipped cream and marshmallows make it great, so Frozen needs some great extras too. You get D’Frosted, a look at Walt Disney’s desire to make a movie about a Snow Queen; a making of clip, deleted scenes, four different versions of the award-winning Let it Go, a trailer and the delightful new Mickey Mouse short, Get a Horse!

Grab Frozen, toss a log in the fireplace and enjoy.

When Saving Mr. Banks came out in theatres, I was a little torn. The film, which tracks the story behind Walt Disney’s 20 year struggle to get P.L. Travers to give him the film rights to Mary Poppins, was full of interspersed flashbacks which I felt gave the film a jerky nature that made it feel longer than its running time. The performances were strong, especially by Emma Thompson, and if you’re a real fan of Disney history, you may want this one as part of your library.

Saving Mr. Banks 1080p transfer is free from any noticeable issues. The scenes Disney’s sunny California studios pop with sunshine and warmth which act as a contrast to the gloomier aspects of the story. The disc features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track with crisp, clear dialogue. The surround aspects are used to provide some ambiance, but since this isn’t one of those immerse-you-in a-strange-world experiences, it’s not something you’ll miss. As for extras, there’s From Poppins to the Present, a fifteen minute look at some aspects of the story and the history of Disney Studios, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” a brief video of cast and crew singing the song led by Mary Poppins co-songwriter Richard Sherman and some deleted scenes. I would have appreciated some more historical looks into the film but considering the film whitewashes some of Walt’s dealings with Travers, I guess the Mouse House isn’t the place to expect to give the whole story a hard look.

The Jungle Book 2 was originally intended as a direct-to-video release but hit the theatres back in 2003. Featuring the voices of Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman and Mae Whitman, the story follows the 1967 original with a “you can take the boy out of the jungle but not the jungle out of the boy” story. Is the story as good as the first one? Not really. Will it entertain younger members of the household? Probably.

The 1080p transfer has a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, a common ratio used by Disney’s CAPS productions during a twenty year period from the early 1980s to 2000s. The transfer has good colours and the contrast looks very good. A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix presents dialogue and the musical numbers well. Considering its a film set in a jungle, I would have liked to have heard more use of the surround channels to place us into the environment. Extras include a look at the original film, discussions with the current cast about the legacy of their characters, some deleted scenes, music videos and sing-a-longs.

Speaking of sequels, I also took a look at Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo. The movie was a direct-to-video release back in 2004 and tracks the honey-hungry bear and his pals in a bunch of Easter-themed escapades. The story is at-par with most of the direct-to-video releases and is just enough to cash in on a popular set of characters.

The 1080p transfer is pretty flawless. Animation lines are clean, colours pop like pastel Easter eggs and the whole thing is bright enough to capture the attention of young viewers. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is crisp but doesn’t really use the surround elements for much, sticking close to the front speakers like Pooh sticks to a honey pot. A few musical extras might keep the youngest entertained.

So after emptying the mailbox, I’d have to say the Frozen will warm your heart and settle in for repeat viewings, Saving Mr. Banks is good disc of a film with some issues but a great performance by Emma Thompson, while Springtime with Roo and Jungle Book 2 are probably passes for all but those who need the most complete Disney library.

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