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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG ($45) marks Walt Disney Studios return to traditional 2D animation after a five year hiatus. I have say that after watching THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, I am glad that Disney has returned to making the kind of animated film that they built their reputation, not to mention an entire industry, upon. While, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG may not be an enchanted masterpiece such as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the film certainly holds it own amongst the most charming and delightful movies that the celebrated studio has release over the last seventy-plus years. Additionally, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is also one of the most beautiful looking 2D animated films to come out of Disney… I have to say my eyes were ticked by the artistry that went into making this film a true visual delight.

Adapted from E. D. Baker's novel The Frog Princess, as well as the Grimm brothers' fairy tale The Frog Prince, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is set during the Roaring Twenties, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and tells the story of a beautiful young waitress named Tiana, who wants nothing more than to fulfill her late father’s dream of operating her own restaurant. Diligently saving money to buy a building for her restaurant, Tiana agrees to work at a ball being given by her wealthy childhood friend Charlotte La Bouff, in honor of the recently arrived Prince Naveen of Maldonia. While Prince Naveen certainly is certainly handsome and charming, he is also quite broke after being financially cut off by his parents, thus making Charlotte’s dreams of marrying the prince a near certainty.

However, before the ball, our prince has encounter with an evil voodoo priest, Dr. Facilier, who decides to take advantage of Naveen’s desperate financial saturation by turning him into a frog and sending in a voodoo enchanted replacement to win the heart and money of the Sugar Baron’s Daughter. At the ball, our frog prince mistakes Tiana for an actual princess, and manages to convince her that kissing him will break his voodoo curse. Unfortunately, Tiana is not a real princess, to the magical kiss backfires, which results in her being turned into another frog. Hippity-hopping their way into the deepest, darkest part of the Bayou swamp, Tiana and Naveen seek the help of a good voodoo priestess named Mama Odie, whom they hope will be able to undo the spell cast on them by Dr. Facilier. Along the way, a trumpet-playing alligator named Louis and a hopelessly romantic Cajun firefly named Ray befriend Tiana and Naveen- to help insure that our two frogs make it through swamp unscathed. The vocal talent behind THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG features Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jim Cummings, Jenifer Lewis, John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Cody, Peter Bartlett and Terrence Howard.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG comes with a 1080p presentation that is nothing short of glorious, thus making this film one of the absolute best looking 2D animated Blu-rays out there. Image sharpness and detail can be truly wondrous; although there are visual elements in the animation that are purposely diffuse looking. Foreground objects and the animated characters sparkle in their clarity and always impress with their beauty. Depth of field is impressively simulated with the multi-planed techniques pioneered by Disney in the early days of their animated filmmaking endeavors. Colors are rich and vibrant, with even the pastel hues appearing luscious. Blacks appear perfect, as do the crisp whites. Contrast is also perfect and sings both the virtues of modern animated filmmaking technique and the ability of high definition to replicate every nuance. The elements from which THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG has been mastered are without flaws. If there was any grain or noise in the image, it was indiscernible.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. It will come as no surprise that the sonic qualities of THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG are about as spellbinding as the visual aspect of the presentation. The sound design is very lively and makes excellent use of all the outlying channels for active sound effects placement, as well as creating living sonic environments filled with both little sounds and other atmospherics. Of course, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is also a musical, whose musicality is greatly enhanced by the lossless encoding featured on this Blu-ray. Randy Newman’s music and songs are quite delightful and the track allows one to full appreciate the rich orchestrations, as the sound fills one’s home theater. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with directors/co-writers John Musker and Ron Clements, and producer Peter Del Vecho. Next is a Work In Progress Track, which offers designs, storyboards drawings and rough animation in comparison to the completed film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include the following: Magic In The Bayou (twenty two minutes), Bringing Life To Animation (eight minutes), The Return To Hand Drawn Animation (three minutes), The Disney Legacy (three minutes), A Return To The Animated Musical (three minutes), Disney's Newest Princess (three minutes), The Princess And The Animator (two minutes) and Conjuring The Villain (two minutes). Deleted Scenes, Art Galleries, a Music Video for the song Never Knew I Needed by Ne-Yo, plus the Interactive Game entitled What Do You See: Princess Portraits close out the standard supplements. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while disc three provides a Digital Copy of the film.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a delightful film that marks Walt Disney Studios glorious return to traditional 2D animation. The Blu-ray Disc presentation is nothing short of a magnificent triumph for the high definition medium. Definitely recommended.



The Princess and The Frog (Three Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo with Digital Copy) (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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