A billion-dollar blockbuster sequel starring a pair of Disney princesses arrives in magical ultra-high definition in Frozen II: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 103 minutes, $44.99).
The further adventures of sisters Anna and Elsa play out in this computer-animated musical fantasy that goes a bit darker this time but still stresses the importance of family, love and harmony with nature.
Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck orchestrate a story that first flashes back to the sisters learning from their dad, King Agnarr of Arendelle (Alfred Molina), about the treachery of the Northulrdra tribe and a magic mist spawned by the elemental spirits of air, water, fire and earth that blocks the forest from their kingdom.
Flash to present as the pair grown up, now Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), join the oddly brilliant snowman Olaf (Josh Gadd), Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven to travel beyond Arendelle and find that forbidden enchanted forest.
On the journey, they will not only learn the source of a mysterious voice beckoning Queen Elsa to the forest but the origins of her frosty powers and find the truth behind the Northulrdra and the unhappy elementals.
The story shines throughout despite its sometimes somber tone. Scenes such as Queen Elsa taming a horse made of water on the high seas as well as the Earth Giants destroying a massive dam will really impress on large television screens.
However, I was not sold on musical numbers.
Some of the songs seem forced such as Olaf’s “Everything Makes Sense” or “Lost in the Woods” featuring Olaf and Sven in a duet that might have older viewers thinking about the days when Chicago wrote insipid pop ballads.
Actually, the movie’s high stakes plot and layers of entertaining intrigue are so engrossing that the musical numbers detract from the drama and the visual smorgasbord. Frankly, they are not even necessary.
My musical grievances aside, “Frozen II” is still a movie that I am sure families will consider as a key addition to their home entertainment library.
4K in action: I would have enjoyed a full-screen presentation of the 2160p upscale for the 2K original source but still, as one would expect from a Disney effort, the stunning lifelike computer animation bursts from the screen.
Especially impressive is every time Queen Elsa unleashes her icy powers, building snow sculptures or running on water using ice patches and ice ramps to step on.
The high dynamic range tweaks are often mesmerizing as in the case of the incredibly vibrant blue sky, the crisp orange and reds of leaves ready to drop on a fall day, the pink and purple flames from a fiery salamander and the multicolored light reflecting off of ice and snow crystals.
Best extras: The 4K disc only offers a karaoke style sing-along of all of the songs as the movie plays.
Move to the Blu-ray disc for a mixed bag of stuff including five, unfinished deleted scenes and two songs not used in the film, all introduced by Miss Lee and Mr. Buck.
The extras also offer a way-too-brief 12-minute overview of the production as the directors and animators discuss the Nordic/Scandinavian origins of the nature elemental spirits and the special animated effects used to bring them to life.
Also, viewers get a brief look at some of the hidden Easter eggs found in the film, outtakes with the voice cast and animation tests of the wind spirit Gale.
Best part of the overall extras package is the directors’ willingness to introduce most of the segments and offer added insight.
Fans using the included digital code can also access another deleted song as well as an 8-minute look at the film’s tunes explained by the composers Kristen and Bobby Lopez
And those watching the movie on iTunes will also find a “Trivia” section with 20 questions about the “Frozen II” story with an accompanying clip from the movie providing the answer.