Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
This is a classic Disney cover, full of color and style. We get to see the main aspects of the movie, and if you have read my reviews before, for kids movies, this is what you want. a nice collection of the characters with a mix of scenery, to give a nice overview of where the movie is going. The menu is the same thing, full of color and the flavor of this movie. Disney usually gets this type of thing right with their animated movies, and the Princess and the Frog is no exception.
- Deleted Scenes – There are four scenes that were left out of the movie for various reasons. The Directors/co-writers John Musker and Ron Clements resent and explain the scenes and why they are not included in the final cut of the movie.
- The Making Of A Princess – In this extra, we get 22 minutes breaking down the roles of the Directors, as well as different aspects of how the movie was made, and the direction the story went. This is a pretty good little extra, even though it seemed a tad long for what it presents.
- Conjuring The Villain – Dr. Facilier is the main baddy in the Princess and the Frog, and we get to see him as he was originally drawn. This 2 minute extra shows how he was brought to life. For me, Dr. Facilier was a great villain, and he was kind of reminiscent of Baron Samedi, the voodoo bad guy from James Bond’s Live and Let Die.
- The Return Of Hand Drawn Animation – This 3 minutes short is too short, as it discusses the film’s departure from computer generated animation, as it returns (gloriously) to the old hand drawn style. I could have watched hours on this aspect alone. The return is great, and I hope we see more like this.
- The Disney Legacy – This extra is pretty familiar territory for anyone who has seen Disney movie extras. This is a simple 3 minute bit on how Disney got started and how the focus has been on strong story telling and presentation throughout the history of the company.
- Disney’s Newest Princess – This is a great little introduction to Tiana, the unlikely new Disney Princess, as we get to meet Anika Noni Rose, who voices the character. Another very short extra at about 3 minutes.
- Bringing Life To Animation – This extra is kind of cool to see unfold. Musker and Clements walk us through some live action captures and show us how the animation is made using the live action sequences. I live stuff like this, and it is a nice 8 minutes inclusion.
- Art Galleries – I was amazed at the sheer volume included here in the art gallery. There are tons of drawings, photos, and bits included here, and it can take a little bit to peruse.
- Music Video By Ne-Yo – Here we go again. the classic Disney music video. There must be a group of kids that love this sort of thing, but I still don’t fully understand the music videos on these discs. This one is by Ne-Yo, for “Never Knew I Needed.”
- The Princess Portraits Game – This is an interactive game that was just so-so. Not much here for the kids to delve into.
- Audio Commentary – The audio commentary by Musker and Clements, and Producer Peter Del Vechio is a great commentary, with loads of information included. It is entertaining without being too loose, and it presents mountains of information about the setting, the art direction, and all of the minute choices and directions that these guys took this movie as they made such a great little film.
- DVD and Digital Copy – I had to include these as extras, as again, with this Blu-ray, they add to the value of the movie. I like the inclusion of both with my kids/family Blu-ray movie, for ease and portability. If you have a 4 year-old, you understand.
The Movie: 8/10
I loved the Princess and the Frog, and so did my 4 year-old son. As a matter of fact, everyone in my family loved this movie. It is a strong Disney tale with exceptional presentation, and overall it is up their with some of the best Disney animated releases. My son was not sure about sitting down to watch this movie, simply due to the fact that it had “Princess” in the name. It is not that he doesn’t love a female protagonist (he can watch Mulan all day long), but the inclusion of the word “Princess” was tough for him to swallow. Having said that, this is not what I would call a girly movie by any stretch. It is a solid movie that appeals to all involved, even though my son said his least favorite part was “all the kissing.” Oh how times will change.
The story involves a beautiful little girl names Tiana, who lives in New Orleans and dreams of opening a restaurant with her father. Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) and her family are struggling to make ends meet and we see how Tiana’s dreams of owning her own restaurant seem to stay a dream, as she transforms from a little girl into a woman, who is still struggling by waiting tables to save up enough money to put a paymen down on her dream restaurant. Tiana has inherited her work ethic from her father, who has cine passed, and the girl has never been one to rely on the ideas of fairy tales or princes who show up to make everything perfect. To Tiana, hard work is what gets you to your goals, not kisses from charming princes.
When at last Tiana seems to have reached her goal of saving enough money to realize her dream, the rug is yanked out from under her, as she finds out someone has outbid her on her dream spot for the restaurant. Enter Dr. Facilier, a wicked voodoo man, who has targeted Tiana’s rich childhood friend Charlotte, and her Daddy Warbuck’s dad as easy targets for quick cash. Dr. Facilier intercepts the visiting Prince Naveen, who is penniless after being cut off by his parents, who is set to meet Charlotte, in the hopes of finding love. Dr. Facilier uses his voodoo to turn Prince Naveen into a frog, and he attempts to have the Prince’s disgruntled overseer fool Charlotte into marrying him (he magically looks like Naveen) so that the Dr. can get at the money.
Tiana finds Prince Naveen, who convinces her to kiss him, and he will return to his normal princely state and pay for her restaurant, but things go horribly wrong when the kiss turns her into a frog also. From that point on the two careen across the bayou in an attempt to return to their normal human state. We get the introduction of a brilliant Jazz loving, trumpet playing alligator who agrees to help them (and not eat them) as well as a Cajun lightening bug named Ray, who is a excellent little Disney humor infused sidekick.
The journey is fun and New Orleans infused (where is Harry Connick Jr., Disney?) and overall the movie is very very good. The return to hand drawn animation is breathtaking and really makes me long for more like this. I enjoyed every minute, and I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys good animated movies. To me this is an instant Disney classic.
Audio & Video: 10/10
I must sound like a broken record by now (or a skipping CD for those not as old as me). The audio and video for most of the Disney Blu-ray releases are incredible. They really have brought a whole new standard to the table, and the Princess and the Frog is no exception. The video is razor sharp and colors are intense. the black levels are perfect, and overall it is just an eye-popping visual experience. The 1.78:1 AVC encoded 1080p image is robust and near perfect.
The audio is again spectacular. The DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound is amazing. The music as well as the entire dialogue is spot on. Use of the rear speakers is well done, and as always, nearly perfectly mixed.
What a great little movie. Disney’s return to hand drawn animation is simply fun. This movie is great, and a fun watch for all. My only real complaint are that there seem to be a little bit of what I would call a slight disconnect between the audience and the characters, which I am not sure if it is the stop go pacing of the movie, or just a little lack of character development. I just felt like I should relate a little bit more to the main characters. Aside from that, and the fact that this is presented more as a “girl” movie, the overall film was a blast, and a classic Disney film for sure.
Overall Score 9/10