Marking a big turning point in the history of Walt Disney Studios, Frozen is a terrifically entertaining animated film that mesmerizes the imagination with an engagingly thoughtful allegory about familial love. The animated classic sends chills on Ultra HD with a beautifully dazzling 4K HDR10 presentation, a somewhat lacking Dolby Atmos soundtrack and porting over the same set of bonus material as the Blu-ray. The overall package nonetheless offers fans a welcomed and Recommended addition to the UHD library.
Overlooking that Frozen is solely responsible for spawning the preposterous popularity of "Let It Go" playing on a seemingly endless loop all across the country, Walt Disney's 53rd animated feature is ultimately their best film since the studio's 1990s Renaissance era. Granted, Tangled and Wreck-It-Ralph are surprisingly excellent productions in their own right, but Frozen stands out for its exceptional animation work, complemented by a thoughtful and weighty allegory about suffering from clinical depression and the painful effects caused by the condition. Isolating herself from the world atop a mountain, Elsa (Idina Menzel) builds an ice palace, an external expression of falling deep into her melancholia, protected by an icy monster of rage when feeling pestered and annoyed. This, in turn, only succeeds in harming her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), the closest person in Elsa's life offering the emotional support she has difficulty recognizing. Of course, the animated film can be equally enjoyed as a poignantly simple but wonderfully touching tale on the strong bond between sisters.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read Michael S. Palmer's review of the 2014 Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brings Frozen to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Disney Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via RedeemDigitalMovie.com or MoviesAnywhere, users have access to the 4K digital version in Dolby Vision HDR with Dolby Atmos audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, which is identical to the 2014 Blu-ray containing all the bonus material. Both discs are housed inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy, lightly-embossed slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a static screen where owners can choose between the start of the movie or look through an animated menu.
Disney's new animated classic sends chills on Ultra HD with an impressive and lovely-looking HEVC H.265 encode, offering fans a beautiful upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart. It may not be a night and day difference, but the overall improvement in this upscaled 2160p transfer is nonetheless appreciable. The finer details in the clothing, the village and surrounding foliage are a tad sharper and better defined while also revealing some impressive textural niceties in the faces of characters, such as the faint freckles around Anna's nose and cheeks.
The more noteworthy upgrade is the boosted contrast and brightness, showering every scene and action sequence with brighter, more intense whites and inkier, silkier blacks. Specular highlights, in particular, provide a brilliant sparkle in the ice crystals within the snow, more distinct clarity in Elsa's castle and a radiant glow along the edges of ice blocks. Shadows also come with a velvetier gloss while still maintaining excellent visibility within the darkest corners, rendering a lovely cinematic quality and dimensionality in the 2.39:1 image.
The HDR10 presentation also parades about in bolstered primaries, especially the more energetic, electrifying blues that range from deep indigos and cobalt to vibrant arctic shades and the spirited sapphire cyans surrounding Elsa's clothing and her castle. Meanwhile, the reds are very animated and pop with a sparkling richness against the rest of the 4K video. The secondary hues are a bit more nuanced than its HD SDR counterpart, but overall, the CG film glows with fuschia pinks, vivid magentas, lively hazelnut tans in some clothing and Sven and a brilliant tiger orange in Olaf's carrot nose. (Video Rating: 82/100)
Given the awesome demo-worthy DTS-HD MA track enjoyed on the Blu-ray, I was really looking forward to enjoying the animated favorite in Dolby Atmos. Unfortunately, the object-based soundtrack doesn't offer much of an upgrade, which is arguably disappointing and surprising.
The design still comes with a healthy dose of background activity and subtle atmospherics that bring the colorful visuals to life and occasionally generate a satisfyingly immersive soundfield. However, these sound effects are mostly reserved for the few action sequences and generally restained to the surrounds. From time to time, they very lightly travel to the overheads, but such moments are far and few in between with the songs and Christophe Beck's score doing better at filling the room and roaming above the listener. It's also not particularly convincing or standout compared to some of Disney's stronger efforts.
As is common practice with the studio's other releases, the master volume will have to be boosted a few decibels in order to better appreciate the detailed clarity within the mid-range. Imaging is quite impressive and engagingly broad, displaying excellent channel balance and fidelity across the three channels while a few effects discretely travel to the top heights. While vocals are well-prioritized amid the loudest segments, a surprisingly robust low-end provides an energetic weight and heft to the music, in the giant snow monster's footsteps and other action sequences. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 74/100)
Aside from annoying the public with an insanely popular, frustratingly catchy and easy to sing along pop song, Frozen marks a big turning point in the history of Walt Disney Studios by being their best-animated film since their 1990s Renaissance era. Starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, the plot is also an inventively weighty allegory about suffering from clinical depression and the painful effects caused by the condition. The animated classic sends chills on Ultra HD with a beautifully dazzling 4K HDR10 presentation but a somewhat lacking Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Porting over the same set of bonus material as the 2014 Blu-ray release, the overall package nonetheless offers fans a welcomed and recommended step-up over its HD SDR counterpart.