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Howard Lovecraft And The Frozen Kingdom (Blu-ray Review)

Howard-LovecraftH.P. Lovecraft, famed horror and fantasy writer, was once just Howard Lovecraft, a strange and lonely child. Howard was a boy of infinite imagination and boundless curiosity. His family however was not without peculiarities of their own… This fall, loyal fans and enthusiasts of Lovecraft’s literature are invited to venture into the imaginative Lovecraft universe through the new animated feature HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM. Written, directed and produced by Arcana Studio’s Sean Patrick O’Reilly (Pixies), HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM is the highly-anticipated movie adaption of Arcana’s popular graphic novel of the same name and features an all-star voice cast of Emmy®-winner Jane Curtin (3rd Rock from the Sun), Golden Globe®-winner Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Academy Awards®-winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners, Up), Doug Bradley (Hellraiser), Kiefer O’Reilly (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) and Alison Wandzura(CW’s Van Helsing). A veritable love letter to Lovecraft himself, HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM is a fantastical movie adventure that entwines new storytelling, actual events of H.P. Lovecraft’s life, iconic elements of his writings and literary characters Cthulhu, Shoggoth and more.

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Film 

Before he becomes the famed horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, young Howard Lovecraft is a curious and imaginative boy living with his mother. But after she unwittingly gives Howard the legendary Necronomicon, he is transported to a dangerous and frozen world populated by horrifying creatures. After saving and befriending one such creature – Spot – Howard and his new friend set off on a perilous quest to save the kingdom and get Howard home. But Howard soon finds out that not everything is as it seems and not everyone is to be trusted.

This is a pretty adorable little film.  And, believe it or not, a comic book movie as well.  I had no idea this was based on any sort of source material aside from taking a spin on HP Lovecraft.  That’s a good thing, as there’s are more adventures to be adapted from this interpretation.  There is an end credits tag that even promises us another adventure.

Howard Lovecraft’s first adventure is one of self discovery, somewhat destiny and somewhat discovering the secrets of one’s parentals.  The narrative device of this film was definitely giving me a very Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe vibe.  Howard winds up finding a key to a whole other fantasy land, meets up with a creature right away and also has to deal with a White Witch-like adversary.  For what they are going for it very much works in terms of introduction, discovery and fulfilling the character and story arcs.

Personally, I have no experience with HP Lovecraft’s works outside of watching films based off of them or merely using the title or simple idea.  However, that actually didn’t keep me from understanding some of the jokes and inside baseball references through the film.  One I particularly got excited when I heard it was when Howard’s father’s doctor was name-checked as “Doctor West” (A reference, of course, to Re-Animator).  There were some more too, as well as the obvious stuff of the creatures that populate the “Frozen Kingdom” like the Cthulhu named “spot”.

While I generally enjoyed the film overall, and had more fun than I thought going in, there are some big pacing issues with the film’s 2nd act.  Things come to a head a little too fast and then back off.  What’s left is a drastic come down and the film starts to drag and lose interest for a longer than necessary amount of time before picking itself back up for a good finish.  This really is my only true complaint, aside from how it might be a little too dark for the audience its aiming at.

Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom is a fun little family movie that can aim to please many parties.  Horror fans, Lovecraft disciples, Stuart Gordon fans, animation fans (Well, its decent above average animation, but it works), fans of stuff like Monster House…I dunno…this movie just seemed to (for the most part) work pretty good.  Its one that’s probably flying under the radar but you should check out.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  CG animation displays very well on Blu-ray and Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is a follower of that rule.  The image is pretty sharp and keeps a clean, crisp picture.  Details are all abound in this look with some strong thematic colors.  I think one product of this transfer being good is that you can make out that the animation is a few steps below the elite (Dreamworks, Pixar).

Depth:  This could have been a nice 3D production.  Spacing is quite good, and areas feel free between foreground and background including good focus on both.

Black Levels:  Blacks are good and deep/dark, providing ample outlining and shading throughout.  No crushing present.  Details are still good and abundant on dark/black objects, people, surfaces.

Color Reproduction:  Colors hold on to a more blue-ish look.  The palette is a simpler one, but everything holds to a full bolder look.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom heats itself up with a very nice 5.1 mix that is a full part of the adventure.  Foley sounds loud and crisp.  There a nice balanced blend of the vocals, musical score and sound effects.

Low Frequency Extension:  Stomping, crashing, spell stuff, snow crunching and more rumble in the sub woofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mainly a lot of the action comes from the front speakers with a good depiction of motion and placement of volume relative to character.  Rear speakers hold primarily for ambiance and music accompaniment.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean, crisp and audible in all areas during even the loudest of moments in the feature.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Sean Patrick O’Reilly

Behind-The-Scenes Featurette (HD, 3:36) – A quick little look at this film, hosted by the director reading a scripted narration on where it came from, adapting it and the cast (with video of recording sessions of the various stars).

Trailer (HD, 1:13) 

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Summary 

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom isn’t just a cute little interpretation of HP Lovecraft lore and mythology, its a fun little animated adventure as well.  And the voice cast is awesome too (Kudos for whoever put Doug Bradley in this thing).  The Blu-ray features a rock solid presentation from both the audio and video standpoints.  Bonus material doesn’t have much, but its a fun little something. If you’re a Lovecraft fanatic and are wondering how to introduce your very little kids to his material…here ya go!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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