Frozen - Disney - Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk. Full cast + crew
Frozen hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, meanwhile it's still the number nine movie at the domestic box office and has made over $1 billion across the world. Normally we wouldn't say that commercial success is automatically indicative of a great movie, but it's kind of hard to argue with numbers like that. Heck, forget about how much money that is in total and just focus on the fact that Frozen is still in the top 10 despite being in theaters since Thanksgiving of last year. That's just incredible.
If you somehow haven't seen the film by now, it really is a delightful, surprising one that's so much better than its simplified marketing campaign (which played up the snowman and the reindeer more than the film's actual story) would have you believe. This is one of the most refreshing Disney-princess movies to come along in quite some time; the music is fantastic and instantly infectious, and it's just an overall warm hug of a movie. And as a parent of a young one who was quite obsessed with this movie for awhile, I can confirm it holds up quite well on repeat views, which is always a nice quality for an animated movie.
Special Features: "Get a Horse!" (six minutes), the old-school-meets-new-school short that played before the movie theatrically. After that the pickings are actually pretty slim and no meatier than any behind-the-scenes materials you could already watch legally on YouTube. It's strange that there's barely 30 mintues of special features on this disc - especially since they're calling it a collector's edition - so don't be surprised when Disney finds a way to double-dip release this in the near future.
Other Notable New Releases
Saving Mr. Banks is a perfectly likeable movie about a charming man breaking through the cold exterior of a fellow artist who is afraid to hand over her work to a bunch of strangers. If you see the film as that and nothing more, it's a nice time. However, it is hard to ignore the propaganda nature of a Disney film about how Walt Disney could do no wrong and was brilliant and right to badger the creator of Mary Poppins until she relinquished creative control and let the studio turn it into something she never wanted. When you watch it in that light, the intent of the film is a little questionable.
Ah, American Hustle. You're an okay movie that somehow became one of the most talked about of 2013, only to slowly fade away as the real awards started to toss out their accolades. That probably sounds like a harsh dig on the film, but really it's meant as an indictment of the hype machine that can so quickly spiral out of control during awards season.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is the kind of movie that's so safe it's kind of hard to get impassioned about it one way or another. It's a well-meaning biopic about a noble man, and it features solid (but not career-defining) performances from all involved. If you're largely unfamiliar with the story of Nelson Mandela, this is a great starting point.
Samuel L. Jackson is like John Cusack without the Marvel connection. Every now and then he appears in a small movie that flew completely under the radar and ended up being quite great (for Cusack, see Grand Piano as an example of this), but more often than not these indie movies end up being rather generic and interchangeable. Reasonable Doubt is the latest to fit this category for Jackson. If you like calm legal thrillers, this is fine in a hazy, catch-it-on-late-night-cable kind of way.
And lastly this week sees Scream Factory's release of The Slumber Party Massacre, aka that horror movie the lurid cover of which lured in so many young men back in the heyday of VHS. This is the kind of sleazy horror movie that used to flood store shelves back in the '80s, where the girls are frequently naked and the killer frequently in the shadows. It's got its unquestionable place in the halls of horror history for many, and this new Blu-ray will be a great addition to any genre fans with a preexisting fondness for this breed of sleaze-and-slash horror movies.
Last Week's Highlights
We missed running a New on DVD/Blu-ray column last week due to the madness of SXSW, so here's a quick catch-up on the five titles that we missed: aka, the Oscar-bait movies that didn't actually do much at the Oscars.
For my money, Inside Llewyn Davis is not only one of the Coen brothers' best movies, but was absolutely one of the finest films of 2013. I normally don't get outraged at a film's awards chances, but it is kind of bogus that this striking film about an artist's seemingly perpetual quest to be his own worst enemy didn't get bigger attention. It's a smart, funny, depressing, unforgettable film with one of the best soundtracks in quite some time. If you missed it in 2013, definitely catch it now.
The Book Thief is the kind of movie that, regardless of how good it actually is, should have gotten more of a spotlight. It's based on a very popular novel, it's a period piece, and it's got a message about how people can attach such life-changing meaning to things that are seemingly inconsequential. Had this movie arrived a few years ago, its success might have been much greater, but it didn't, and now it's destined to become one of those movies you randomly discover and think, Hey, this movie's actually pretty good... how come I never heard anything about it?
And lastly in the Oscar-bait-that-the-Academy-didn't-bite category we have Out of the Furnace, Scott Cooper's cold drama featuring a killer cast (Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Casey Affleck) and a heavy story about American justice. If that sounds up your alley, it probably will be, just don't expect it to be your favorite movie of all time. Reaching a bit further back into Oscar history, Paramount put out a nice new Blu-ray of Samson and Delilah, Cecil B. DeMille's film about the classic tale of love and revenge that's filled with old Hollywood class and charm. It's a nice antidote to today's grungy, grimy awards movies.
Getting away from Oscar territory all together, last week also saw the release of Homefront, aka Reason #752 to not mess with Jason Statham. This is the kind of down-home thriller that makes for a fine rental thanks not only to the reliableness of Statham, but yet another fun performance from James Franco.
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