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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ice Princess
Ice Princess
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // July 19, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted July 25, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Let's face it, Disney loves to make a feel-good family movie and for the most part they get eaten up by audiences. The problem is that you can only play the genre so many times before things start getting predictable and stale. Ice Princess follows the line of live action Disney films before it and adheres to a strict formula that makes the movie extremely conventional.

When you are a child, there are several things that you wish to be when you grow up. If you're a little girl at some point you dream about being a figure skater and gracefully sliding your way across the ice, but something called reality settles in after a certain age. That reality seems to hit everyone but high school senior Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) as she throws away her promising future as a physicist to try and reach her dream of being an ice skater.

Casey has always loved ice skating and she often spends her winters on a frozen pond behind her house. It isn't until she is assigned a special physics project that she begins to apply her studies to her dream. Unrealistically she figures out ratios and equations for how to do certain movies and quickly masters them despite physical requirements and need for tons of practice. She finds herself making new friends and training with Gen (Hayden Panettiere), Nikki (Kirsten Olson) and Tiffany (Jocelyn Lai). While Gen's mother Tina (Kim Cattrall) sees some potential in Casey's raw skill, Casey's mother Joan (Joan Cusack) refuses to. Joan does everything she can to stop her daughter from wasting her life pursuing figure skating and pushes her to go to school for physics.

Unfortunately for Ice Princess, you don't have to be a fortune teller to know exactly what's going to happen and how the movie is going to end. Sure there are a few minor surprises, but ultimately the film follows the predictable path and never deviates from it. It's because of this that even though the story is slightly touching and decently acted, Ice Princess falls flat on its butt while trying to land that triple axel.

I thought Trachtenberg was wonderful as the optimistic Casey, but her performance never goes beyond bouncy, cute and mildly inspirational. Casey's friends each provide typical support character roles for this type of film, but the best performances come from Cattrall and Cusack. Cusack acts as the voice of reason while at the same time Cattrall pushes for the girls to be skaters. Despite the different sides of the fence they are on, the two are really the same deep down and are trying to force their way of life onto their daughters.

Ice Princess touts a metamorphosis of Casey from book geek to beautiful skating goddess, but really we're never given the impression that she changes. Yes she's pretty but she's still the same person throughout, the only difference is she's wearing skates in one scene and sneakers in another. There are a few other character development holes that are easily identifiable, but I can't imagine that the movies target audience will really care about plot holes and predictability. This film is plain fun for the heck of it than it is serious story telling, so it's perfect for family night but not so much for a movie buff.

The DVD:

Video:

Ice Princess is presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and is a very clean looking film. Disney is known for producing some high image quality and this release is no different with no real noticeable grain, compression artifacts or edge enhancement. The image can become a little soft at times and is not as sharp as other DVD releases, but overall the quality is high grade. Being a feel-good family movie you can expect a lot of vibrant colors, but at the same time there is a decent use of contrast.

Audio:

While the disc features a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, it never really uses the surround to its full effectiveness. There are some bits with directional audio, but for the most part everything comes from the front channel. There's nothing wrong with the quality and everything "sounds" good, but considering the source material there isn't much to play with. It's not like I really wanted to listen to Britney Spears' music in surround sound anyway.

Extras:

Ice Princess has a few notable features on the disc including a commentary track with the kid stars Trachtenberg, Panettiere, Olson and Trevor Blumas who plays Casey's love interest Teddy Harwood. There are some moments where the actors talk about what it was like filming the picture and how they got involved with it, but for the most part it's just like annoying kids talking at a movie theater.

Other special features include a couple of music videos from the film's soundtrack and seven minutes worth of deleted scenes. After watching the deleted bits it's easy to see why they weren't included in the final cut of the movie, but they are interesting none-the-less.

Final Thoughts:

As far as family films go, Ice Princess isn't horrible and it can actually be entertaining at points. Its main flaw is how formulaic it is and it never deviates from the obvious path long enough to be something new and fresh. There really aren't any strong performances to make it stand out and the message gets lost somewhere along the way, but the teenage girl crowd will enjoy it enough.

For everyone that isn't a teenage girl I'm going to advise a rent it because it just doesn't have enough substance to be considered a serious film. The video quality is great, but given the source material not much can be done for the audio to spruce it up. Overall the movie really isn't worth a second watching and at times feels as if it's hardly worth a first viewing.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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