Jack Frost (1998)

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Details At A Glance

Category Family/Fantasy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 97:14 minutes Other Extras Main Menu Audio
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Troy Miller

Warner Home Video
Starring Michael Keaton
Kelly Preston
Mark Addy
Joseph Cross
RRP $34.95 Music Trevor Rabin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I suppose that when you have never heard of a film starring a biggish name like Michael Keaton, you are pretty well assured that it is not going to amount to much. When the user rating on the Internet Movie Database is a solid 4.1 out of 10, you pretty well assured that the film is definitely not going to amount to much. So my expectations going in to watching this were not high. Rest assured, the expectations were met - Jack Frost is not much of a film. And really the whole problem is that I really do not know what the film was trying to be.

    Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) is a musician with a band struggling for recognition, who returns home to his wife Gabby (Kelly Preston) and son Charlie (Joseph Cross) for Christmas after a road gig. Trouble is Jack has a problem keeping promises, and after letting his son down by not getting to his latest ice hockey game as promised, Jack promises a few days up in the mountains in their cabin together. The day arrives and the car is being loaded up when a phone call arrives - the offer of a major record deal, providing that the band gets to Aspen to perform for the record company boss. Naturally Jack and the band head off for the gig, leaving a disappointed Charlie behind. On the way, a change of mind and Jack borrows Mac Macarther's (Mark Addy) car to get back to his family. He never makes it. A year later and Jack returns to this mortal coil to animate a snowman built by Charlie and try to patch things up with the family. What follows is a load of hokum and very reminiscent of the typical Disney family movie.

    So a fairly hokum story, fleshed out by a few side plots that really do not help, and at the end of the day a film that really does not move along in any enjoyable way at all. Michael Keaton must have been paid well to undertake this hokum rubbish, and Kelly Preston seems to gravitate to this sort of lame stuff for some reason. Mark Addy will be better remembered for The Full Monty and probably should have given this a miss, for it surely will not be his big break into Hollywood. The direction from Troy Miller hardly helps at all, and the only thing remotely memorable about this is some fairly decent visual effects. When you think the best thing about a film is the effects, you know that the film really has not ascended any great heights.

Transfer Quality


    Three 2.35:1 films on the trot and all three have problematic transfers, and two of them are Warners efforts. A worrying pattern here, methinks.

    This is a dual sided disc, with a Pan and Scan version of the film on one side and a widescreen version presented in a aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on the other, still a relative rarity in Region 4. The widescreen version is 16x9 enhanced. I did not watch the Pan and Scan version apart from briefly sampling it, so all comments relate to the widescreen version.

    As to be expected in a recent film, the transfer is generally very sharp throughout and has good definition to it. It is a reasonably clear transfer, although it does tend towards being a little bit on the dark side. Shadow detail is good throughout. There did not appear to be any low noise problems with the transfer.

    The colours come up quite nicely rendered, and quite nicely saturated, which results in a nice rich tone to the transfer. The overall impression is of a very natural transfer that well captures the winter in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It is a nicely vibrant transfer.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Unfortunately, there were consistent problems throughout the film with minor film-to-video artefacts, mainly in the form of minor aliasing and shimmer. Whilst not too intrusive, it is very noticeable and one does have to wonder why three straight films (including two 16x9 enhanced films) exhibit such problems. There was also a significant problem with aliasing during the end credits, which makes it difficult to watch them. Film artefacts were noticeably absent from the transfer, which is what we should expect from a recent film but often do not get.


   The audio transfer is a good one that really is too good for this film, even if it has a few minor problems.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD: the default English Dolby Digital 5.1, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 and an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand at all times. There did seem to be some variability to the soundtrack and a noticeable increase in volume occurs at about 17:10. There also seemed to be some distortion in the audio between 69:50 and 69:55, accompanied by some bad shimmering in the video.

    There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The musical score by Trevor Rabin is not especially memorable but is suitably supportive of the film. The best bits about the soundtrack are the songs, including an original sung by the Jack Frost Band featuring Michael Keaton.

    This is a nicely detailed and well balanced soundtrack, with some decent enough detail out of the surround channels. The overall soundscape is very natural sounding and very believable, apart from the slight variations in the soundtrack, and you generally feel a part of the soundscape. The bass channel does not get a huge amount of use, apart from during some of the effects and action sequences and during the songs. If anything, the bass was overly heavy in the songs, but this is a personal taste matter.


    Quick ... call me an ambulance. There is actually an extra on this release from Warners!! Okay, calm down, it is not much of one, but anything is an improvement.


    And the extra is main menu audio, added to which the menu is 16x9 enhanced! Oh Lord, it must be Christmas!!

R4 vs R1

    Released in Region 1 much the same time as it was released in Region 4, there is no significant difference between the two versions, and therefore no compelling reason to prefer one over the other, apart from the inherent superiority of the PAL system.


    The problem here is that I don't really know what Jack Frost was trying to be, and ultimately the film fails because of it. Mind you, the kids might enjoy this if you get desperate for a rental film over the summer holidays, but in all honesty I could not recommend that you shell out $35 to buy it.

    The overall video quality is fairly good, but with problems.

    A very good audio transfer, with some minor reservations.

    At least something in the way of an extra, but not worthwhile raving about.

    And could Warner$ kindly explain exactly what a 2.35:1 regular transfer is (as opposed to a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, which we all understand)? Utter rubbish and meaningless twaddle. It is a 1.33:1 Pan and Scan transfer, so label it as such please.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
16th December 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL