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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Music > Comedy > CGI > Counterculture > Prejudice > Stop Motion > Czech > Frozen II 4K (2019/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Point (1971/MVD Blu-ray)/Three Fantastic Journeys Of Karel Zeman (1955, 1958, 1962/Criterion Blu-ray set)

Frozen II 4K (2019/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Point (1971/MVD Blu-ray)/Three Fantastic Journeys Of Karel Zeman (1955, 1958, 1962/Criterion Blu-ray set)

4K Picture: B+ Picture: B/C+/B Sound: B+ & B/C+/B- Extras: C+/B/B Films: C+/B-/B

Animation is as old as cinema itself, starting in the silent era, becoming its own artform and going through all kinds of innovations and transitions. The following releases reflect that history.

First, we have Frozen II 4K (2019), the inevitable sequel to the surprise hit film from six years ago and we covered it at this link...


Not as big a fan of the first release myself, I took it upon myself to see out of curiosity among other things, what would they do for a follow up. Since we now have a 4K Ultra HD format, I was curious if this would change anything or up thew visual ante. Well, the story is fine and seems like a logical continuation of the fantasy-heavy narrative and all the major voice actors have returned, the money is on the screen in high quality, top rate CGI animation and some sequences do look good, but it is more of the same otherwise with no standout (or overly played out) hit record.

They have managed to also continue the tone of the first film and some of the humor even works beyond the intended young audience, yet it did not do too much else for me, so this is for fans only at best, but cheers to Disney for giving it their best try. You can still tell it is not PIXAR product, but it does not need to be to be good.

Extras include Digital Copy, while you can also access (per the press release) Digital Exclusives like Meet the Lopezes - Meet the award-winning husband-and-wife team behind the incredible songs from 'Frozen' and 'Frozen 2' and Deleted Song 'Unmeltable Me' - An animatic version of Olaf's celebratory song about his newfound freedom. Both disc versions have the Sing-Along Version of the Movie - Sing along with your favorite songs as you watch the movie, while the Blu-ray adds...

  • Song Selection - Jump to your favorite musical moments, with on-screen lyrics. Songs include Oscar-nominated 'Into The Unknown,' 'All Is Found,' 'Some Things Never Change,' 'When I Am Older,' 'Lost in the Woods,' 'Show Yourself,' and 'The Next Right Thing'

  • Outtakes - Laugh along with the cast of 'Frozen 2' as they record their lines, sing their songs and have fun in the recording booth.

  • Deleted Scenes - Check out a few scenes that never made the final cut.

    • Intro - Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck offer a glimpse into their filmmaking process with scenes that didn't make the final cut.

    • Prologue - A battle rages between Arendelle and the Northuldra while a mysterious figure challenges King Agnarr.

    • Secret Room - A secret room reveals even more of Anna and Elsa's past, including a shocking revelation about their mother.

    • Elsa's Dream - Anna's playful glimpse into Elsa's dream takes a dark turn.

    • Hard Nokks - Kristoff reveals his true feelings about life in Arendelle when the Nokk won't take no for an answer.

    • A Place of Our Own - Elsa uses her magic to relieve Anna's lingering doubts about their parents' faith in her.

  • Deleted Songs - When it comes to 'Frozen 2,' there can never be too much music. Hear some of the songs that got cut from the final film.

    • Intro - Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck revel in the chance to share a few songs that didn't make it into the final film.

    • 'Home' - Anna savors every moment as she wanders through this kingdom she calls home.

    • 'I Wanna Get This Right' - Kristoff wants everything to be perfect before he proposes, leaving Anna to wonder, 'Will it ever be just right?'

  • The Spirits of 'Frozen 2' - Cast and crew explore the Scandinavian and Nordic mythology that inspired the spirits inhabiting the enchanted forest of 'Frozen 2.'

  • Did You Know??? - Olaf asks us the question 'Did You Know' as we discover 'Frozen 2' fun facts, Easter eggs and tidbits about the making of the film.

  • Scoring a Sequel - Composer Christophe Beck combines a 91-piece orchestra with 30 choral voices to create the compelling score for 'Frozen 2.'

  • Gale Tests - They say you can't see the wind. Only its effects. Filmmakers give it a shot while creating the playful wind spirit, Gale.

    • Gale Test - A young girl and boy play tag in this fully animated effort to 'give personality to something that's invisible.'

    • Hand-Drawn Gale Test - A hand-drawn test to bring the precocious wind spirit to life.

  • Multi-Language Reel

    • 'Into the Unknown' in 29 Languages - Hear Elsa's soaring call to adventure in 29 different languages

  • and Music Videos - Weezer and Panic! at the Disco lend their voices to a few of the soaring melodies from 'Frozen 2.'

    • 'Into the Unknown' (Panic! at the Disco version) - Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie stars in their version of "Into The Unknown" from 'Frozen 2.'

    • 'Lost in the Woods' (Weezer version) - Weezer puts their spin on Kristoff's epic ballad, 'Lost In the Woods.'

In the opening of Frozen II, you see a clip of Mickey Mouse in the short animated classic Steamboat Willie, the first animated film with sound, with animation that was a standard until abstract styles entered the picture in the 1950s with import animation, TV animation causing necessitated animation ideas due to lack of funds and UPA, a rival animation studio founded by former Disney animators who went on strike and did not stay at the company. With the counterculture in full swing by the later 1960s, The Beatles classic Yellow Submarine (1968) took such animation to a new height and became a permanent style that lasted until the late 1970s (including in soda commercials and TV shows like segments of Sesame Street, Electric Company, Sonny & Cher and Monty Python's Flying Circus).

Early on, one of the triumphs of this animated approach was an animated feature film, but made for TV, which was unheard of at the time. Like Yellow Submarine, one music force would be behind the whole program, this time the brilliant singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson who was already know for his music on the great hit TV series version of The Courtship Of Eddie's Father. When Fred Wolf's The Point (1971) was broadcast, Nilsson was as important as any of his piers in the business from Bob Dylan to Donovan to James Taylor to Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye to Paul Williams to Carole King. This was a true TV event and one long overdue for rediscovery.

Its starts with a father (originally voiced by Dustin Hoffman for the first broadcast only, three other men have redubbed the film since, but here, it is rightly the best and my favorite choice to do it, none ofter than Ringo Starr) wanting to tell his son (perfectly voiced by Brady Bunch actor Mike Lookinland as the show was still in production) a story instead of letting him watch TV. That is just the beginning of the wit and irony we get throughout.

The story focuses on Oblio, a young boy who does not fit in and has no friends save a dog named Arrow (thus, ''Me & My Arrow'' became the most beloved song of the many we get here) traveling through the landscape of his surreal world dealing with prejudice, hate, bigotry, adults who have failed us all and kingdoms that deserve to fall and fail permanently. Cheers to the supporting voice cast led by the legendary Paul Frees and Lennie Weinrib plus Wolf's great animation direction. A flipside to Yellow Submarine, this is heading for its 50th Anniversary and if you have never seen it or have not seen it in a long time, this is the time to catch up.

Extras include a repeat of materials form the old DVD, plus (per the press release) NEW! "The Kid's Got a Point": An Interview with Mike Lookinland (HD, 17:13, very good), NEW! "That Old Guy Wrote The Point": A Conversation with Screenwriter Norm Lenzer (HD, 15:01), NEW! "Everybody's Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson on Adapting the Point" (HD, 15:50), NEW! "Nilsson on Screen": Biographer Alyn Shipton and Friends on Harry Nilsson's Film Projects & Appearances (HD, 1:01:13), The Making of The Point: Four-part featurette including: "Who Is Harry Nilsson?", "Pitching The Point", "Making The Point" and "Legacy of the Point" (SD, 26:40) and a nice Collectible Mini-Poster.

Finally, we have a triple feature of restored classics thanks to the great people at Criterion. Three Fantastic Journeys Of Karel Zeman features the influential work of the Czech filmmaker who was as creative as Disney, Melies and The Fleischer Brothers, this set offers three different approaches to animation and fantasy filmmaking, now finally restored and presented in their original, unabridged versions. You may have seen watered down U.S. releases of his work, but here finally are the real things.

Journey To The Beginning Of Time (1955) is a full color live action film with some charming and effective stop-motion animation as four young boys take a boat trip in their spare time and land up seeing and discovering prehistoric cave writings and actual creates that have not been seen for centuries. If only those busy adults had more spare time on their hands. A child and family-friendly work, this holds up very well and I was impressed at the heart and soul it has to it. See it and be surprised.

Invention For Destruction (1958) is a remarkable adaptation of Jules Verne's Facing The Flag, which predicted the atom bomb to some extent, takes us underwater ala 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and is done with an amazing combination of obvious, outstanding pencil/ink drawings that give us everything form the ships to the seas to the rooms live action humans inhabit and some of those human even get animated in shots. The result is flawless and almost surreal, but also more starkly effective since this is in black and white (a lighthouse shot instantly reminded me of the recent film of the same name, if not as dark) and just has a surprise, shot after shot after shot. You have to see it to believe it.

Last but not least is The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) which is in color, but instead of full color, the film is tinted (light parts of the film gets the color) and toned (dark parts of the film gets the color) in various solid colors throughout as the film tells the tales (and wacky adventures) of the title character (running counter to the Agfacolor Nazi-era film of the same material and inspiring the Terry Gilliam film of the same character a few decades later) in situations words could not do justice to. As effective as any version of the story to date, there are little touches of animation and visual effects here and there too. Yet another gem that rounds out one of the best Blu-ray sets of the last few years.

Extras include a poster pullout with tech info, some illustrations and an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson, along with limited-edition deluxe Blu-ray packaging featuring pop-up art that is worth going out of your way for, while the discs add new programs with animation filmmaker John Stevenson and special-effects artists Phil Tippett and Jim Aupperle discussing director Karel Zeman and his complex visual trickery, four early short films by Zeman: A Christmas Dream (1946), A Horseshoe for Luck (1946), Inspiration (1949), and King Lavra (1950), Film Adventurer: Karel Zeman, a 2015 documentary about the director, featuring filmmakers Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, illustrator Ludmila Zeman, and others, Short Documentaries by the Karel Zeman Museum profiling the director and detailing the production and effects of all three films, U.S.-release version of Journey to the Beginning of Time from 1960, alternate English-dubbed soundtrack for Invention for Destruction, and the opening sequence of the 1961 U.S.-release version, Restoration Demonstrations and an interview with restoration supervisor James Mockoski and Trailers.

Now for playback performance. Though the film was shown in select theaters in 12-bit Dolby Vision, the 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on Frozen II still looks the best of anything on this list, though these all have good footage and even demo moments, but is not that different from the first film. It also has better color, detail and depth than the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray.

The 4K edition has lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) sound, but it does sound a little tame, something a few other 12-track releases from Disney have been criticized for, but it still sounds good and a little better than the still-impressive DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on the regular Blu-ray.

The Point was originally produced on 35mm film, but amazingly, no such print could be found for this Blu-ray edition, but MVD has secured a solid-enough 16mm reduction print here from a 2K scan in a 1080p 1.33 X 1 color digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film despite vertical scratches, some other flaws and some softness in spots. Though I was hoping for lossless sound, especially with Nilsson music involved, the disc only has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo mixes, but the 5.1 is just a little better.

The three Karel Zeman films are all new 4K scans of the original 35mm negatives, though Journey had some damage, so a 35mm duplicate positive was used when necessary. Journey and Munchausen (albeit tinted and toned) are in color, produced in Agfa/ORWO-like color, here looking amazing and fresh in 1080p 1.33 X 1 color digital High Definition image transfers. The same can be said for the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Invention, which looks great and is a one of a kind treat. All sound is here in PCM Mono off of the original optical mono 35mm soundmasters.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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