The Princess and the Frog appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, the movie looked great.
Sharpness looked virtually immaculate. At all times, the flick seemed crisp and well-defined, with no notable instances of softness on display. Jaggies and shimmering remained absent, and I noticed no signs of edge haloes. Source flaws played no role here, as the film stayed clean and fresh.
Colors became a strength. Frog boasted a broad, dynamic palette and the hues always dazzled. The various tones were consistently lively and really sumptuous. Blacks looked dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity and smoothness. I felt very pleased with this terrific transfer.
Frog also provided a pretty strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Much of the movie favored the front channels, but the mix opened up well when appropriate. The voodoo sequences provided the most active elements. Music always demonstrated positive stereo imaging, and the effects created a realistic and involving sense of atmosphere. When the action heated up, the surrounds added a fine layer of material that contributed some lively and engaging audio.
Audio quality seemed very positive. Dialogue always came across as natural and warm, and I detected no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Music appeared bright and dynamic, with concise highs and rich lows. Effects also were tight and realistic. Those elements betrayed no distortion, as they consistently appeared clean and accurate. The effects provided some strong bass response as well. The track wasn’t quite active enough for “A”-level consideration, but it became a solid “B+”.
We get a nice mix of extras here. These open with an audio commentary from co-writers/director Ron Clements and John Musker and producer Peter Del Vecho. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the film’s development, cast and performances, story and character areas, sound and music, art and animation, research and the use of New Orleans, and a few other topics.
From start to finish, the filmmakers offer a terrific little commentary. They jump into the flick with gusto and cover a wide variety of useful subjects. Expect to learn a ton about the movie’s creation in this fine chat.
Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 43 seconds (including filmmaker intros). We find “Advice from Mama” (1:36), “Alternate Louis Introduction” (4:46), “Stop and Smell the Roses” (3:20) and “Naveen Confides in Ray” (1:54). These all come in story reel form; no final animation pops up, though a smidgen of rough animation appears.
“Advice” feels redundant, as it just reinforces Tiana’s all work, no play nature and her mother’s desire for her to marry. “Louis” eliminates a little of the character’s perceived menace; I think the final version works better, but this one’s fine as well. “Roses” gives us more interaction among Tiana, Naveen, Ray and Louis; like “Advice”, the clip just stresses character traits that we already understand, so it’s fun but unnecessary. Finally, “Confides” develops Naveen’s growing feelings for Tiana. Once again, it proves enjoyable but redundant.
We get a Music Video for “Never Knew I Needed” by Ne-Yo. The song’s okay but forgettable, and the video isn’t much more interesting. However, it does avoid the standard “lip-synch combined with movie clips” format typical for tunes from films. In fact, the video’s New Orleans-set story reflects the flick but works on its own; it’s not fascinating, but it’s better than expected.
Under Bringing Life to Animation, we find three segments that occupy a total of eight minutes, eight seconds. There’s an “Introduction” (1:08) from Musker and Clements as well as two other bits, both with director commentary: “Dig a Little Deeper” (4:38) and “The Proposal” (2:22). This shows live-action reference footage used to assist the animators; we also see the relevant shots from the movie. This is a cool way to examine the use of live-action film in the animation process.
Seven featurettes follow. Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess goes for 22 minutes, 11 seconds and includes Clements, Musker, Del Vecho, executive producer John Lasseter, story supervisor Don Hall, co-art director Mike Gabriel, writer Rob Edwards, art director Ian Gooding, composer Randy Newman, choreographer Betsy Baytos, supervising animators Bruce Smith, Randy Haycock, Marlon West, Anthony DeRosa, Mark Henn, and Andreas Deja and actors Anika Noni Rose, Jenifer Lewis, and Terrence Howard. “Magic” looks at the film’s development and the return of hand-drawn animation, story topics, characters and their design, cast and performances, research and the use of New Orleans, art and visuals, music and choreography, and animation styles.
Because the commentary covered so much territory, redundant material becomes inevitable here. Nonetheless, “Magic” manages to provide a reasonable amount of new information. Background footage helps illuminate various topics, and the additional participants contribute fresh perspectives. “Magic” becomes a good recap of many production areas.
During the two-minute, 43-second The Return to Hand Drawn Animation, we hear from Musker, Clements, Deja, Smith, Lasseter and animator Mike Surrey. Essentially all involved just tell us how happy they are to be doing cell animation again. It’s a superfluous piece.
Next comes The Disney Legacy. In this two-minute, 31-second clip, we get material from Smith, Deja, Henn, Clements, Musker, and animator Eric Goldberg. The animators talk about experiences with artists from Disney’s golden age. While not an especially informative piece, I like its respect for history.
We look at the title character in Disney’s Newest Princess. The two-minute, 51-second reel features Clements, Musker, Henn, Rose, Lasseter, Edwards, Lewis, Del Vecho and Howard. The show just gives us a quick character recap for Tiana and some notes about Rose. Other than a couple short shots of the actors in the studio, this is a generic piece that doesn’t tell us anything interesting.
The Princess and the Animator lasts two minutes, 26 seconds and presents Henn, Clements, and Musker. It tells us about Henn’s fondness for animating Disney princesses and tells us a little about the Tiana role and Rose. It’s another fairly uninformative clip.
After this we get Conjuring the Villain. It fills one minute, 50 seconds with notes from Smith and actor Keith David. “Villain” looks at aspects of the Dr. Facilier character. Like its predecessors, it fails to deliver much content, though we get a couple of interesting behind the scenes shots.
Lastly, A Return to the Animated Musical runs three minutes, 13 seconds as it includes info from Musker, Clements, Edwards, Lasseter, Del Vecho, Newman, Lewis, Rose, and actors Jim Cummings and Bruno Campos. “Return” looks at the flick’s music. It throws out a few decent notes but not a whole lot of depth.
Art Galleries split into four areas. We find “Visual Development” (166 stills), “Character Design” (109 images across six sections), “Layouts and Backgrounds” (16) and “Storyboard Art” (54). Expect a lot of interesting sketches and paintings here.
Like most Disney releases, Frog offers a game. What Do You See: Princess Portraits shows firefly images of various Disney princesses; you choose from six options. It’s not a barrel of fun, but it’s more engaging than most Disney games. At the end, you get to hear various princess stories as told by the Mama Odie character; that’s kind of a neat bonus.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 3, an unnamed Rapunzel flick, Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Except for Rapunzel, these also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Genuine Treasure: Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Treasure, Fantasia/Fantasia 2000, Disney Parks, Disney Movie Rewards, Old Dogs and James and the Giant Peach.
A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Frog. This offers the same single-DVD version available on store shelves, so it comes with a few extras. If you want to own Frog but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good bonus.
Finally, a third platter provides a Digital Copy of the movie. This allows you to transfer the film to a computer or portable gadget. Yay?
With The Princess and the Frog, Disney comes back to traditional animation for the first time in years. I wish I could regard this as a Triumphant Return, but instead, it’s just a Pretty Decent Return. The film entertains well enough, but it lacks real magic. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals, very nice audio and a good roster of extras highlighted by a terrific audio commentary. Though this isn’t a classic, Frog is entertaining enough for me to recommend it to Disney fans.