Book Review “Disney Frozen: Royal Sisters – A Dress-Up Book and Magnetic Play Set”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Book and Magnetic Play Set
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the coolest things of having an 18 month old kid is that I am able to play with things that I haven’t been able to since I was a kid. I grew up in the 80’s and I used to LOVE playing with Colorforms! All you 80’s babies out there know that I am talking about! When I saw this book, I had a flash back of being a kid and playing with those. On top of that, “Frozen” is no question my favorite film to date of 2013 and our family cannot get enough of this film. The characters, the colors, the music, the design…it is absolutely perfect. As is this book, which is a not only a book but also a magnetic play set and a dress-up book as well.

Inside this book you literally get transported into the wonderful the magical world from Walt Disney Animation Studio’s “Frozen”. Included inside this great handy plastic carrying case are two storybooks, two magnetic dolls, six play scenes, and over 60 magnets. The play scenes are really sharp and quite colorful. The magnets are spot and represent the film very well. There is a ton of fun to have with this set and is also a great way to get kids imaginations going. Seeing my daughter play with this set, I knew that she was having a real blast and she is still technically too young for this. I can only imagine how much she will enjoy as she gets older. Highly recommended, very reasonably priced and will make a great holiday gift this year! If your kids are fans of “Sofia the First”, there is also a great set for that show as well.

Book Review “The Art of Frozen”

Author: Charles Solomon
Hardcover: 168 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: December 3, 2013

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When a new Disney or Pixar movie comes out, I am usually more excited for the “Art of” book, then the film recently. I love the behind-the-scenes door into these films. “Frozen” is my hand down favorite film of 2013 to date, so maybe my expectations were a little high, but I was slightly disappointed with this book. It is quite different from recent companion books for “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph” for sure. If you’ve seen this film then you will know how visually amazing it is, I didn’t really feel that scale when I did a flip through on this. The concept art included in this book consists of storyboards, character designs, location designs, props etc. I enjoyed all these quite a bit but I wish the overall presentation was just a little more welcoming. Still this book will have a prominent place on my table for months to come since I am in love with the film.

Official Premise: In Walt Disney Animation Studios upcoming film, Frozen, the fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff—to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. The Art of Frozen features concept art from the making of the film—including character studies and sculpts, color scripts, storyboards, and more—alongside interviews with the film’s artists about the making of this comedy-adventure.

One thing you should know though before picking this up is that if you haven’t seen the film do not read this yet since there are a few decent size spoilers given in the book. The artwork is well represented by Chronicle Books, but that is not a surprise since they usually deliver great books. The images are very high quality, so that is definitely a plus going for this book. It is also authored by Charles Solomon, who also did one of my favorites “The Art of Toy Story 3”. There is a solid preface from the Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and Principal Creative Officer at Walt Disney Imagineering aka John Lasseter. He was also an executive producer on the film. The foreword is from the films directors Chris Buck (director of “Surf’s Up”) and Jennifer Lee (writer of “Wreck-It Ralph”) and worth checking out. Even though this may not be the best “Art of” book of the year, if you enjoyed the film then I would say that it is worth checking out still just keep expectation lower.

Film Review “Frozen”

Directed By: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff
Rated: PG
Running Time: 108 minutes
Walt Disney Studios

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Disney has a decent go-to formula with some of their classics. First we start off with a story centered around a princess. Then we have some wonderfully crafted music and a heart warming theme to accompany it. Alright so let’s go down this shortened list before we get ahead of ourselves. We have not one, but two lovable leading ladies. The music is not only fast paced and fun, but incredibly catchy (I’ve still got it stuck in my head as I type this). And of course we have a very touching story about the love and acceptance between two sisters. By taking that well-made scheme and rubbing in some fresh twists, Disney has crafted another instant classic.

Today’s coronation is special for more than one reason. Anna (Bell) is finally seeing the dark empty halls of the castle she’s grown up in come alive with people. Her older sister Elsa (Menzel) will be made queen, but she’s less than eager to step outside her room. This is because Elsa contains the power to manipulate snow and ice. Without gloves concealing her hands, she doesn’t have much control over her abilities. Also at a young age, she harmed her sister Anna with her powers and was scared into never revealing her skills. Things don’t go as plan as pressure from the party gets to Elsa and her powers are unleashed in a frightening manner. She flees into the mountains as people call her “monster” and “sorceress”. Upon leaving and finally giving into her powers, she has brought forth fierce blizzard.

The beginning of this movie is fantastic because we’re not given the usual set-up of a villain. We sense that almost every character means well, but we know that at least one of them is putting up a front. Or maybe enough time hasn’t passed for someone’s true evil to set in. We know it will happen, but until then, Elsa plans to follow her sister into the harsh mountains. She’s aided by Kristoff (Groff) and his reindeer Sven. He’s not your traditional knight in shining armor, but as the story progresses, he grows from a delightful goof to a loving warrior. Prepare to be blown away by the layers of heart and soul that this movie has.

I generally believe that audiences don’t have any high expectations with Disney movies anymore. Heading into this though, I feel like Disney set a really high mark for themselves and achieved that with this ensemble cast of Broadway actors. Even Kristen Bell was marvelous with her solo songs. She has some magnificent duets with Idina Menzel. Disney seems to be aiming for that theatrical magic that they had with some of their classics like “Beauty and the Beast”. They’ve hit the bullseye on this one. The music flows wonderfully and the lyrics are so in tune with the character’s emotions and feelings. Someone needs to hand the Academy “For the First Time in Forever” and “Let it Go” for consideration this year.

We also have some genuine laughs from the movies most innocent, cute and charming character, Olaf, a talking snowman. Every character design is flawless. The animation is breathtakingly gorgeous. Multiple scenes had me stunned at how detailed and intricate the animation was as it moved at a rapid rate. I felt like I was watching a frozen world evolve before my eyes. It’s obvious from this movie, that Disney has been taking notes from Pixar for a while now. I think if the guys at Pixar watch this though, they might wanna start taking notes from Disney again.

Book Review “Frozen: The Essential Guide”

Age Range: 5 – 10 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 5
Series: Dk Essential Guides
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: DK CHILDREN
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Boy, is Disney really pushing “Frozen” or what? “Frozen” journeys into theaters November 27, 2013, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters and they are marketing it like it is going to be the next “Cinderella”. Listen, I am not complaining as I will be first in line next month! I love the love of this film and I just have a feel that it is going to win over audiences no question. As I walked around Target even this past weekend, there are is entire section of merchandise already dedicated to this film. So “The Essential Guide” is a great way to learn a little bit about the film, the characters, location and themes before you see it in theaters.

Official Premise: From the studio behind 2010’s Tangled and this year’s Wreck-It Ralph, Walt Disney Animation Studios presents Frozen, the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer, Sven, on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister, the Snow Queen Elsa, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes, and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

This fact-filled guide gives you a sneak peak into the enchanting world of this film and also features some beautiful movie stills and fun and interesting facts! Obviously, this book is aimed at kids and includes some decent information but nothing that is going to interest anyone over the age of 10. Either way, my 17 month old daughter loved this book and already has dolls of both of the leading ladies as well as Olaf the Snowman. So she will be reviewing this book often I am sure.  If you adults are looking for something for yourself, Disney is also planning a gorgeous companion book for you called “The Art of Frozen”, which I am sure is going to be stunning, which comes out next month from Chronicle Books.

Book Review “Frozen: A Sister More Like Me “

Author: Barbara Jean Hicks
Illustrator: Disney Storybook Art Team
Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Late last year, I heard that the team that brought us “Tangled” and “Wreck-it Ralph”, two of my favorite films ever, where bringing out a musical animated film based on “The Snow Queen”.  Here we are a mere few weeks from the film released date, titled “Frozen”. The film is already a merchandise giant and it is isn’t even out yet. I always own two other “Frozen” books besides this one now and there are at least another 10 different ones.  I love that Disney is really backing this title and I know that they are also not stupid cause this film is a cash cow. It introduces us to a new Disney princess and we all know how big Rapunzel from “Tangled” has become. If you have young kid, like myself, especially a girl then this is a great book to own to get you excited for the film.

The illustrations in this are so amazing. I love the look of the two sister’s Anna and Elsa. The colors are gorgeous and presented so beautifully. I expected the illustrations to be amazing since it was done by by one of the artists who worked on the film itself.  The story tells a new original story about Anna and Elsa and the challenges of finding a sister more like me.  The words flow so well page to page using rhymes and is so sweet. My 16 month old daughter brought this book over to me once we got it and said “Ok”, which means “Read me now!…please”. I read the entire 32 page book and she didn’t move once. I can’t wait to see this film and I am sure it is going to be yet another instant Disney classic. I also can’t wait to see what else Disney Press has planned for “Frozen”, keep ’em coming.

Blu-ray Review “The Frozen Ground”

Actors: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Dean Norris, Kevin Dunn
Directors: Scott Walker
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Lions Gate
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 105 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I am a sucker for anything that Nicolas Cage does.  The guy is so cool that he is featured not once but twice on the cover of this Blu-ray. He is joined with an impressive cast including John Cusack (playing the serial killer Robert Hansen) and Vanessa Hudgens (she is quite impressive). I have to admit, the film was really well done and drew me in from the moment it starts. It follows the true story behind the hunt for Robert C. Hansen, one of America’s most notorious serial killers who brutally murdered 17 young women over the course of 12 years in the town of Anchorage, Alaska. After watching the film, I did some more research on the true story and that is how I know when I really enjoyed a film that it leaves thinking afterwards.  This film should have received more attention in theaters since it definitely deserves it.

Official Premise: Based on a shocking true story of Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) as he sets out to end the murderous rampage of Robert Hansen (John Cusack), a serial killer who has gone unnoticed for 13 years. As the bodies of street girls start to pile up in Anchorage, fear strikes a chord with the public. Risking his life, Halcombe goes on a personal manhunt to find the killer before the next body surfaces. When a seventeen year old escapee (Vanessa Hudgens) reveals key information about the case, Halcombe is finally on the trail of the killer. But will he catch him in time to save the next victim?

Lions Gate delivered a solid Blu-ray presentation (as always). Included is a Blu-ray disc and also a Digital HD Ultraviolet copy as well. The 1080p transfer looks great and really captures the landscape of Alaska. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid as well and works with the crime-thriller. The special features are also impressive on this release. There is a solid commentary track with director/writer Scott Walker and producer Mark Ordesky and Jane Fleming. There are some
Deleted Scenes included along with additional ommentary by Director Scott Walker. There is a behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews from the cast/crew, along with a few extended interviews with cast and crew. Lastly there is a featurette looking into the “Anatomy of a Serial Killer”. Solid extras for a solid film.

DVD Review “The Frozen Dead (1966)”

Director: Herbert J. Leder
Cast: Dana Andrews, Anna Palk, Philip Gilbert, Kathleen Breck, Oliver Macgreevy
Distributed by: Warner Archive
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 95 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I read the premise for “The Frozen Dead”, I thought “a sci-fi horror film about frozen Nazi soldiers…how could it go wrong?”. Too bad the film really doesn’t deliver much beyond that premise. The film drags quite a bit throughout, especially in the middle.  The visual effects are not too bad for 1966 and does take you back a little to that golden age but I just wasn’t really feeling it.

Official Premise: Dana Andrews stars in the ghoulish, sci-fi horror story The Frozen Dead. Twenty years after World War II has ended, members of the Nazi party remain, and they are determined to again rise to power. Having funded German doctor Rupert Norberg’s (Andrews) cryogenic experiments since the war, the party makes it clear that they expect him to reanimate some 1,500 frozen Nazis! Fearful for his life, Norberg continues his research – in increasingly horrific, murderous ways. But when his niece’s (Anna Palk) best friend goes missing, the young woman tries desperately to enlist help from an American scientist (Philip Gilbert) to stop the madness. Andrews took many jobs to pay the bills while trying to make it “big.” His boss at a Van Nuys gas station was so impressed with the actor’s determination that he paid for his acting and singing lessons.

“The Frozen Dead” is being released on made-to-order DVD, courtesy of Warner Archive. It is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The transfer looks amazing for a film that is nearly 50 years old. The Dolby Digital track also works well with the score, but there isn’t much added suspense. I would recommend this release only for long-time fans of the film.