The Princess and the Frog (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 7, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation is beautiful and magical and another yet beautiful film in Disney’s long line of Walt Disney Animated Classics. A magnificent Blu-ray release that is filled with special features and fun for the whole entire family.
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TITLE: The Princess and the Frog (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy)
DURATION: 98 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish Subtitles
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 16, 2010
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Loosely based on “The Frog Princess” by Ed Baker
Story by Ron Clements, John Musker, Greg Erb, Jason Oremland
Screenplay by Ron Clements, John Musker, Rob Edwards
Executive Producer: Aghi Koh, John Lasseter
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Associate Producer: Paul D. Lanum, Craig Sost
Music by Randy Newman
Editing by Jeff Draheim
Casting by Jen Rudin
Production Design by James Aaron Finch
Art Direction by Ian Gooding
Featuring the voices of
Anika Noni Rose as Tiana
Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen
Keith David as Dr. Facilier
Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis
Jennifer Cody as Charlotte
Jim Cummings as Ray
Peter Bartlett as Lawrence
Jennifer Lewis as Mama Odie
Oprah Winfrey as Eudora
Terrence Howard as James
John Goodman as “Big Daddy” La Bouff
Elizabeth M. Dampier as Young Tiana
Breanna Brooks as Young Charlotte
Magic, music and romance are waiting around every corner of the legendary Big Easy as Disney’s newest princess sets out on an exciting adventure through a magical new world. Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is a beautiful and hardworking young woman determined to fulfil her father’s dream of owning an elegant New Orleans supper club. When Naveen (Bruno Campos), a handsome prince arrives in town looking for romance, the evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David) hatches a nefarious plot and turns Naveen into a frog. A kiss from Tiana should return him to his true form, but in a hilarious twist on the classic story, she is instead transformed into a frog herself! The pair must travel into the heart of the mysterious Louisiana bayou with only a trumpet-playing alligator and a love-struck firefly as guides to find the priestess who can reverse the curse in order to find their “happily ever after.”
Walt Disney films have been known for their 2D, hand-drawn animated films for nearly a century but within the last decade, there has been more of a focus on CG animated films. With the last 2D film from Disney being “Home on the Range” back in 2004, Disney talents wanted to work on a film to bring back the hand-drawn animated style and the film is titled “The Princess and the Frog”.
The 49th animated feature film, the film is directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, known for their work in “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin” and “Hercules and features music composed by Randy Newman.
“The Princess and the Frog” which was budgeted at $105 million was released back during the Thanksgiving holiday week and was quite successful, earning $246 million worldwide and was nominated for eight Annie Awards and also three Academy Awards.
The film which is loosely based on E.D. Baker’s novel “The Frog Princess” is about a waitress named Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose). When she was a child, her mother Eudora (voiced by Oprah Winfrey) worked as a seamstress for wealthy Southern sugar mill owner Eli “Big Daddy” La Bouff (voiced by John Goodman) and this is where Tiana and La Bouff’s daughter Charlotte “Lottie (voiced by Jennifer Cody) learned of the story about “The Frog Princess”. Tiana vowed that she would never kiss a disgusting frog while Charlotte said she would kiss a frog if she could become a princess.
When she and her mother went back home, she wold greet her father James (voiced by Terrence Howard) who would always comment on how talented Tiana is as a cook. And when she was younger, her father would talk about Tiana owning her own restaurant because her cooking is so good.
Flash forward many years later and Tiana is a hardworking waitress who has been saving up all her money for so many years in hopes to make her dream come true and that is own her restaurant “Tiana’s Place”. She has sacrificed her young life in order to work and make money towards her restaurant.
Meanwhile, Prince Naveen of Maldonia (voiced by Bruno Campos) and his valet Lawrence (voiced by Peter Bartlett) arrive in New Orleans and wanting to make better of Prince Naveen’s life after he was cut off from his parents financially. So, his goal is to marry the rich southern belle Charlotte.
When Charlotte goes to visit Tiana and tell her about having this big celebration for Prince Naveen (and her dreams of becoming a princess coming true), she offers all this money to Tiana to cater the event and Tiana is happy because now she has the money to make the down payment on the building for her dream restaurant.
While this is going on, Doctor Facilier (aka The Shadow Man) is listening in on the situation. Known as the dark voodoo master, he comes up with an idea to get back at the rich and powerful (primarily Charlotte’s wealthy father) and that is by using Prince Naveen.
The Shadow Man begins to use his magic by trying to cajole Prince Naveen in a trick for him to make more money and for Lawrence, to get the prestige he had always wanted.
On the day of the big event, Charlotte and Prince Naveen seem to be getting quite close but as for Tiana, all things seem to look as they are going well until she is told by the building’s lenders that someone has payed more money for the building and if she wants it, she needs to submit a larger bid. Dejected and depressed, now Tiana doesn’t know if she will ever make her restaurant happen. Her friend Charlotte offers her a dress for the festivity and Tiana looks like a princess.
While she looks up on the stars and prays that her dream will come true, a talking frog shows up and freaks Tiana out. It appears that the talking frog is actually Prince Naveen (while the fake Prince Naveen is his valet Lawrence who has joined forces with the Shadow Man).
The real Prince Naveen (as a frog) offers Tiana all the money she needs for her restaurant if he gets a kiss from the princess. Tiana knowing that she needs more money will need to kiss the frog (despite not wanting too) and when she does, instead of turning the frog to a prince, she turns into a frog herself. The plan backfires because Tiana is not a true princess.
Now Tiana and Prince Naveen (who are now as frogs) are joined by a Cajun firefly named Ray (voiced by Jim Cummings) and a trumpet-playing alligator named Louis (voiced by Michael-Leon Wooley) must go on a dangerous adventure in the swamps in order to find Mama Odie (voiced by Jenifer Lewis), a blind voodoo princess who may know how to reverse the spell.
Meanwhile back at home, with Prince Naveen (as the frog) missing, the Shadow Man is unable to keep Lawrence’s appearance as Prince Naveen and now he sends his dark shadows after Prince Naveen in order to make sure the fake Prince and Charlotte are married and thus he can exact his revenge against the rich.
Will Tiana and Prince Naveen be able to find Mama Odie in time? Or will the predators in the swamp or the Shadow Man’s monsters prevent them from doing so?
With what we have seen from Disney when it comes to animation in the past decade, they have set the bar quite high in terms of animation and especially within the past several years of what one can expect from a Blu-ray release. When you have a good number of significant animators from Disney working on this film, you’re going to expect quality and nothing less than that. Fortunately, they deliver with this beautiful, vibrant film.
“The Princess and the Frog” just boasts of wonderful colors and impressive detail for its artistic backgrounds. Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:781 aspect ratio), we see the details from the plants, the tree trunks in the swamp area, the beautiful surroundings of the La Bouff mansion and beautiful detail in terms of the character’s movements. I personally didn’t see any artifacting or edge enhancement during this film. Overall, Disney has once again gave us a film that looks magnificent on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Princess and the Frog” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit) and also French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. It seems like it’s been quite a long while, but the film boasts an exciting musical with fun and entertaining jazz music courtesy of Randy Newman and musicians. Dialogue and music are crystal clear from the front and center channels and a good amount of surround use and LFE for the more dominant action scenes. Every character has its share of contributing to the soundscape with Tiana and Prince Naveen hopping through the swamp, Ray buzzing through the air and Louis jamming on that trumpet. And of course, any scene that features a crowd is nicely heard through the surrounds. A good dose of musical and action scenes that keeps the soundscape quite immersive.
Overall, magnificent lossless audio for “The Princess and the Frog”.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“The Princess and the Frog” comes with a few special features presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. Included are:
- Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary by co-writers/Directors John Musker and Ron Clements and Producer Peter Del Vecho as they talk about the creation of the anime series, working with the various voice talent and creating an animated film that takes place in New Orleans and much more.
- Deleted Scenes – Co-Writers/Directors John Musker and Ron Clements introduce deleted scenes (before production) and are seen from the original storyboards. Includes Advice from Mama, Alternate Louis Introduction, Stop and Smell the Roses and Naveen Confides in Ray.
- Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess – (22:11) Co-writers and directors John Musker and Ron Clements show the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Princess and the Frog” and how they recreated New Orleans and the surrounding bayous.
- Bringing Life to Animation – (8:08) Featuring an introduction by co-writers and directors John Musker and Ron Clements, features “Dig a Little Deeper” (6:50) and “The Proposal” (2:21). The two give commentary on an animation technique used as reference for the animators.
- Conjuring the Villain – (1:50) A featurette about the villain “The Shadow Man” and Supervising Animator Bruce Smith talks about how he came up with the villain and Keith David talks about providing the voice of the character.
- The Return to Hand-Drawn Animation – (2:42) A featurette featuring co-writers and directors John Musker and Ron Clements discussing Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation and also interviewers with the animators of the film.
- The Disney Legacy – (2:31) A featurette featuring animators at Disney who worked on a number of popular Disney animated films.
- Disney’s Newest Princess – (2:51) A short featurette about the character of Tiana and featuring the voice talents of the film discussing the character.
- The Princess and the Animator – (2:25) A short featurette on Supervising Animator Mark Henn working on “The Princess and the Frog” and discussion of his past accomplishments.
- A Return to the Animated Musical – (3:12) A featurette about Disney’s return to the animated musical and the film being based in New Orleans and working with Randy Newman.
- Art Galleries – A collection of storyboard art traces the visual development of “The Princess and the Frog” with gallery of characters and settings.
- Music Video by Ne-Yo – (4:04) A music video for “Never Knew I Needed” by Ne-Yo.
- What Do You See: Princess Portraits – A bayou-style quiz tests viewers knowledge of Disney’s beautiful princesses. Ray’s firefly family creates twinkling portraits of each princess and if the player identifies her, they can enjoy a tongue-in-cheek mini re-telling of that character’s story.
“The Princess and the Frog” Blu-ray release comes with a DVD (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions), English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 DVS Surround Sound, English and Spanish language tacks. English SDH and Spanish subtitles and English and French language tracks. Also, included is a digital copy of the feature film.
“The Princess and the Frog” is another wonderful animated film that I have no doubt will become a classic. It’s also one of the most modern animated films from Disney as the female lead is not wanting to become a princess, nor is she looking for her knight in shining armor. Tiana is an independent, hard working woman who wants to start her own restaurant and she wants to become a business owner. She’s an intelligent character and for the most part, I also enjoyed that Disney has created an African-American, female lead character for this film.
Also, I found it quite exciting to see Disney return to its hand-drawn animated roots. Not to say that I’m not enjoying the CG animation from Disney/Pixar but it was great to see John Lasseter and team working together in bringing those magical and music Disney hand-drawn animated films back. Using today’s modern technology and today’s animators, they were able to create a film that just looks magnificent and also a soundtrack that is just incredible, fun and energetic.
As for the Blu-ray release, this is a solid release as you get an awesome Blu-ray filled with special features but also included is the DVD of the feature film and also a digital copy that works great during those long commutes (and also to keep the children busy).
Overall, “The Princess and the Frog” once again achieves another masterpiece and creating a film that will no doubt become a classic. Highly recommended!
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