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Friday, March 21, 2014

Review of Disney's 'Frozen' Blu-Ray/DVD Set - Wishing for More Extras

I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. I got the Tangled Blu-Ray/DVD set when it first came out, and the same thing happened. Why did I think this set was going to be any different?

If you've followed my blog at all, you know how curious I've been to dive into the making of Frozen. I've scoured every resource at my disposal to learn more about the various incarnations this project went through before Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee landed on making the film we now know and love.

The Art of Tangled gave me more of an inside-look to Disney's work on the story of Rapunzel, and while there was still a lot more that I would have liked to see, I felt that the book covered a lot of ground - while The Art of Frozen seemed to hold a lot back when it came to commentary on the amount of work the studio did on the Snow Queen project (don't let that deter you though, the book has stunning artwork and wonderful information on how and why the artists chose different shapes, what inspired them, etc).

The Blu-Ray/DVD set for Tangled could have included bits like these, with some commentary:

Bronze Wool uploaded those last two to their Youtube channel, and there are a few other Tangled storyboards as well. I tried locating a storyboard of one of the old Rapunzel concepts that had an ending very reminiscent of  Enchanted, where the two leads end up in a fountain in New York, but could not locate it - it is very possible that it was taken down or hidden.

I know that not everyone cares about extras. I read somewhere that Disney surveyed some of their customers, and most parents said that they didn't really care about all of the bonus features Disney used to put on their releases.

The thing is, I know that I'm not the only person that cares about this stuff. It doesn't surprise me that parents that buy every Disney DVD for their kids don't really care about the movie extras, but it's no secret that there are a lot of adult die-hard Disney fans that appreciate making-of documentaries.

So while the "Making of Frozen" featurette was entertaining and took us through WDAS with some of the leads from the movie, and gave us a joking visual look at the process, the features do not shed a lot of light on what the "Snow Queen" project went through on the whole. I especially would have loved to have seen a full documentary, talking about thing like how the game changed when Jennifer Lee, the first woman to direct at the studio, came on board. And the short deleted scene of Elsa being more of a villain gave us an idea of what the film might have been like, but there's still that darn clip used in all of the promotional material going around of Elsa shooting her ice magic after Anna says, "That's no blizzard, that's my sister!" - which is proof that there's footage of Elsa doing more villainous-type things that are more fully-rendered. Some may consider me strange for wanting to see these things, but I'm a big fan of the movie, the project and the studio that produced it.

Take this promotional image that was released with that first set of (what the rest are) stills from the film, for example:

This never happens in the movie. Interestingly enough, when I received my lithograph set for pre-ordering Frozen from the Disney Store, this image came along with a few other stills, but re-cut awkwardly so we only get a bit of Anna's head and a slightly better view of Elsa, with the torch eliminated (or at least out of frame).

The point that I'm trying to make is that Elsa's character went through drastic changes up until a few months before the film was released.

Frozen has become a sensation. If you use the internet at all, you've seen the explosion that this film has created. "Let it Go" has done more than win an Academy Award this year - it has become the anthem for young and old alike. Frozen is, in a word, special. The creators went so far as to use that term when I visited panels talking about it at 2013's D23 Expo.

One may want to argue that Disney "held back" on extras because with all the re-releases they do, they want to make sure they have more interesting stuff to show us in the future. I understand all of that, but Tangled hasn't seen another release, and all we got on those extras were Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi throwing out a few facts about the film, like how many hairs were actually on Rapunzel's head - something that could have easily ended up on the Disney Channel for promotional material. Sleeping Beauty has seen multiple releases in the past several years and has yet another approaching shortly, but Tangled still sits quietly. So how long will we have to wait to get a real behind-the-scenes look at the work it took to make this film?

Probably a really long time. Decades, even. I anticipate that I will be a senior citizen by the time that happens.

In any case, I guess we should all be thankful that we can actually buy Frozen to watch and bring home with us. Not too long ago, the only way to re-watch your favorite movie was if you were lucky enough to catch it being aired somewhere on cable, or you went back to the movie theaters again in a re-release.

For now, I will "let it go" and enjoy the film in glorious HD.