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Frozen Blu-rayYou’d think Disney might have exhausted the fairytale canon for princess stories at this point, but with Frozen, the famous animation company has pulled together a zinger of a story with plenty of emotional payoff, helped along by a story from Hans Christian Anderson and artwork by Kay Nielson.
Frozen is loosely based on the Anderson story "The Snow Queen," but in Disney’s version, two sisters are important to the tale. Princesses Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are fast friends as youngsters but grow apart after Elsa’s magical abilities get out of hand. Years later, Elsa is set to ascend to the throne when her power—magic that allows her to manipulate the weather—swirls out of control once more. She hides out in the mountains, leaving it up to Anna to chase after her and bring her home.
It sounds like a story fraught with ice and other terrors, but the coming-of-age narrative about two very different sisters is a great adventure story, sprinkled with musical numbers that will charm young audiences and leave them singing instant classics like "Would you Like to Build a Snowman" and the Oscar-winning emotive ballad "Let it Go." Add in an amusing snowman sidekick named Olaf (Josh Gad), a magical snow creature who wants nothing more than to bask in the sun during spring, a handsome prince (Santino Fontana) and a handsome pauper (Jonathan Groff), and we have all of the components necessary to create a Disney instant classic.
In that way, Frozen largely succeeds, creating a movie that is gorgeous, a story that is compelling and a set of musical numbers that round out the movie perfectly. The film does have some trouble early on deciding how much time to spend with Elsa and with Anna, but as the sisters both come into their own, Frozen grows into a movie that will fit very well on most families' shelves.
Best Special Feature:
If you caught Frozen in theaters, you’ve probably already gotten a chance to see the throwback animated short "Get a Horse!" That one is certainly worth a second watch, but the extra I found most suprising was "The Making of Frozen." The "Making of" is not your average behind-the-scenes featurette. Instead, it’s actually a pretty clever musical production starring Gad, Groff, Bell and plenty of the other people involved with the theatrical production. The musical number is set on the Disney lot and in many of the rooms on the lot where Frozen was actually put together, so in that sense, we do get behind the scenes. The extra is goofy, fun and should keep the kids entertained.
Other Bonus Features:
Original Theatrical Short "Get a Horse!"
"Frosted: Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen"
Original Teaser Trailer
American Hustle DVDIt takes a brilliant mind or two to create a great con and Academy Award nominee American Hustle is full of the right sorts of larger-than-life personalities. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper all star in the political corruption expose, bringing to life a con man, an FBI agent with bigger aspirations, a tough cookie paramour and a feisty housewife. How their lives intertwine will keep fans invested for the duration of the flick’s lengthy two+ hour run.
American Hustle starts with a love story. Here we meet Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), a schlubby man who has nonetheless caught the eye of Sydney Prosser, the type of beautiful that favors plunging necklines and as few clothing items as possible. The two soon begin a life of conning those who cross their paths. He’s as affable as she is charming, but things are complicated when FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) enters the picture. Additionally, Irving’s wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence), also revels in adding a hiccup or two into any good con.
There’s plenty of drama when the storylines get tense, but David O. Russell has always been good at infusing comedy into convoluted plotlines and complicated characters. He’s also great at writing side characters, and this time around Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena and Jack Huston all infuse extra mirth into the flick. American Hustle may not work for everyone, but if you decide to go along for the ride, you’ll no doubt find a movie that is as exciting as it is tense, and as fun as it is messy.
Best Special Feature:
We’re taking a look at the DVD copy, so there’s nothing exciting to say about the picture. However, Blu-ray and DVD copies of the flick do come with the same extras, a "Making of American Hustle" segment and deleted and extended scenes. The "Making of" bit is actually pretty interesting. The first few minutes take a look at how Eric Warren Singer put together the story for the film and then David O. Russell picked it up and added more depth. It’s a pretty good watch if you like to hear from the actors and crew members involved with the film.
Other Bonus Features:
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Saving Mr. Banks Blu-rayTwo other narratives based on famous personalities are also being released this week. The first is Disney’s take on the relationship between Walt Disney and famous children’s author P.L. Travers who reluctantly collaborated on the studio’s hit film Mary Poppins. The touching narrative is coming to Blu-ray combo pack in a set that is filled with historical bonus features. But if "touching" and/or "Walt Disney" aren’t your thing, you can check out the life and times of Allen Ginsberg in this week’s other historical biopic, Kill Your Darlings.
John Krokidas’ directorial debut is a story of crime and deception, set to the tune of beatnik writing in the 1940s. It follows the early life of Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe), his dealings with a problematic mother, obsession with a charming but dangerous college classmate, and a pervading need to break free of the establishment, egged on by a few other outstanding personalities. The dialogue in Killy Your Darlings is rich—though at times unbelievable—and the pace and the sway of the movie should invest those who are already interested in the life and times of Ginsberg and company.
Both flicks sport a slew of famous names. Saving Mr. Banks is headlined by Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell, while Kill Your Darlings sports Harry Potter wunderkind Daniel Radcliffe and The Amazing Spider-man 2 starrer Dane Dehaan. The ones we’ve covered aren’t the only releases this week, of course. You can check out some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other March 18 Releases
The Dukes of September Live
The Jungle Book 2
Here Comes The Devil
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The Little Rascal’s Save the Day
Return to Nuke ‘Em High"
Flashpoint: The Final Season DVD
Achmed Saves America