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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - March, 2010

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"The Princess and the Frog" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

Tiana (Rose) is a young girl growing up in 1920s New Orleans with dreams of opening her own restaurant.  She works two jobs to save the money and just as she scrapes up enough to buy her building, the exotic Prince Naveen (Campos) comes to town.  He is looking for a rich woman to marry.  Unbeknownst to anyone, the Voodoo Man, Dr. Facilier (David) is plotting to take control of the vast fortune belonging to the Prince’s finance, Charlotte (Cody).  I can’t go any further without divulging major plotlines but suffice it to say you’ll see talking and singing animals (and insects) and yes, there are frogs.  It all adds up to another stellar animated feature from Disney Pictures.  While not a traditional fairy tale, the film is very loosely based on The Frog Prince from Brothers Grimm.

 

Specifications

  • Disney Pictures
  • 2009, Color, G, 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: not specified
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Michael Leon-Wooley and Jennifer Cody
  • Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence:  No
  • Sex:  No
  • Language:  No

Commentary

It’s been quite a while since I watched a Disney animated feature.  I must say, I found this movie very enjoyable.  I’ve always been a purist, preferring films based on familiar fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast.  Some of Disney’s more modern stories have left me flat but not The Princess and the Frog.  This, like many of its predecessors will entertain those of most any age or taste.  I’ve always likened these films to Broadway musicals with their endearing characters, lavish artwork and wonderful music.  There is a look and feel to Disney animation that no imitator has yet achieved.  As much as I enjoy computer-generated imagery, hand-drawn presentations like this really have no equal.  The characters, as always, are loads of fun.  We have a hopelessly romantic firefly named Ray, a jazz trumpet-playing alligator named Louis, a wise old voodoo priestess named Mama Odie, and of course, there are frogs.  The music is beautifully integrated into the story and is never boring or too lengthy.  The style is New Orleans jazz and it’s performed expertly.  I haven’t added a Disney animated feature to my library in some time but The Princess and Frog is a keeper.

Technical

The image is reference-level with spectacular color and sharpness throughout.  The multi-layered animation is rendered perfectly with a great sense of depth and dimension.  There was no perceptible edge enhancement; thank you Disney!  Foreground action comes off the screen as intended with backgrounds awash in pastel colors and soft textures.  Each character is drawn by a tiny team of animators and it shows in the perfect consistency of each scene.  The wealth of artistic talent here is simply tremendous.

Sound design is first-rate.  The music fits the film perfectly and is performed and mixed to reference standards.  Balance is never an issue with just-right amounts of voice and background accompaniment.  This Blu-ray is a great demo for lossless sound.  The DTS-Master Audio track is at all times clear and detailed.  The instruments and voices always sound honest without the synthetic feel that is sometimes added in post-production.  Sound effects are also balanced well.  I never had to reach for the remote to adjust the volume.  For me, this adds to the live-theater feel that the film tries to portray.

Extras

The package I received contained not only the Blu-ray but a DVD and a digital copy of the film.  Bonus features are all in HD and include a making-of featurette that has interviews with filmmakers and animators, and documentaries about specific production aspects like music and character design.  There are also deleted scenes, a music video, art galleries and an interactive game.