A NEW DISNEY CLASSIC IS BORN
For years, Disney animated films has captivated millions of viewers (both young & old) and have literally built from the ground up an empire that has dominated the market for producing such timeless cartoon treasures. Following in the footsteps of its rich history cannon of blending classical fairy tale stories (Adding a personal twist thrown into its tale) with Broadway style-esuqe musical songs, Disney debuts its 53rd animated movie titled Frozen (Based off of Hans Christian Anderson’s tale The Snow Queen). Does this new feature film find its way into your heart or is it as cold as ice?
Set in the Kingdom of Ardendelle, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are two sisters’ princesses who are close growing up until an accident happens involving Elsa’s strange powers of conjuring snow and ice. Concerned for both of their children’s safety, their parents separate the two, raising them individually with limited interaction with each other as Anna loses her memory of Elsa’s magical powers, while Elsa is isolated from the world, trying to conceal and control her powers. Many years later, on Elsa’s coronation day to be Queen of Ardendelle, her icy powers are exposed to many after following an altercation with her sister. Elsa, scared of what others now think of her, flees the kingdom and heads into the mountains to live alone in exile, however, in her haste departure, Elsa’s magic accidentally covers the land in an unnatural and perpetual winter. With help of an ice-delivery man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Kristoff’s faithfully reindeer Sven, and magical talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna races off to find her older sister and restore the climate balance within Ardendelle and within each other’s heart.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
Since Tangled was released back in 2010, Disney decided to veer off its traditional path of fairy tale princess and faraway kingdoms and choose to do a variety of other animated feature films like the video game nostalgia of Wreck-It-Ralph and the return to 100 acre woods in Winnie the Pooh (the 2011 version). This year, however, Disney has returned to its trademark staple as Frozen brings back all the fairy tale joy of its timeless animated movies, while also reengaging itself to new viewers.
One of the most interesting things that Disney decided to with H.C. Anderson’s classic is to make the character of the Snow Queen not to be that typical villain archetype and rooted more in human emotion. The character of Elsa, in the movie, is not a cold hearted evil queen with nefarious ideals, but rather a cautionary tale about believing in oneself, in owns abilities, and those who love you (especially family). The character of Anna also shares redeeming qualities of being smart and adventurous, but also been flawed with rushing into things and sometimes being a little odd. In truth, the message in the movie is about empowerment and trusting in those around you and yourself (Both found in both Anna and Elisa).
The animation is something that should be highly praised in Frozen. The style is a mixture of Rococo-inspired hand-drawn/ CG hybrid technique that was similarly used on Tangle (more on that below); there’s even a brief moment of a famous Rococo painting, “The Swing” in the movie). It definitely compliments Frozen’s fantasy world with a beautiful picture-esque scenery of sharp colors as well as its animals and characters, who’s faced expression are detailed and feel alive with variant personalities. Personally, Frozen is the best-looking animated film of 2013.
As far as voice talents go, its solid performances all around with Kristen Bell’s endearing optimistic, yet slightly clumsy portrayal of Anna to Idina Menzel’s complex and vulnerable depiction of Elsa. However, the best performance is in Josh Gad’s character of Olaf, who really steals the best lines and catchphrases in the film and does bring that hilarious goofy sidekick quality that are staples in majority of kids animated movies. Other characters (minor / supporting ones) includes Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weaselton (not to be confused by pronouncing it saying “weasel”), an old and dubious fuddy-duddy, Santino Fontana as Hans, a charming prince from the Summer Isles who carries himself in laudable fashion, and Ciran Hinds as Pabble, the elder leader of the rock-like trolls who are educated in the ways of magic (and the mysteries of the heart and mind).
As with many other Disney’s animated movies of classic stories and nuances’, musical songs (for the most part) play pivotal roles in its narrative with characters pouring out their hearts with emotions of elation, confusion, triumph, or even sadness. Frozen ranks very high in this category and delivers some of the best songs that Disney has put out in quite some time ranging from the duality of Elisa and Anna’s personas in “For The First Time in Forever” to Olaf’s anticipation for summertime in “In Summer” to finding that perfect someone in your life in “Love Is an Open Door”. But the really show-stopper song in Frozen is Elsa’s liberation in “Let It Go”, which captures the certain “Magic” (both on-screen with it’s visually and in Idina Menzel’s powerful vocals) that one seems to find in classic Disney songs. Many are already speculating (including myself) that this particular will be nominated in the “Best Song” category at the Oscars next year (and hopefully wining it). As a side note, Demi Lovato’s rendition of “Let It Go” (which appears during the film’s ending credits sequence) is pretty good. However, I still like Idina Menzel’s version better.
Even Disney’s Princesses have their own problems to contend with and the film Frozen doesn’t have a whole lot, but a few minor things to be criticized. First, though I mention that the animation style looks superb, I still think Disney should have stayed with the idea of making 2D animated movies again like they did back in 2009 with The Princess & The Frog. (Frozen was originally going br in 2D, but the studio decided for the film to be in 3D animation). Even with the film rendered three-dimensions, its overall look and character designs are an unmistakable illusion to its 2010 predecessor Tangled. Disney’s animated movies usually have their own particular design of animation and unique to each film. However, Frozen’s animation is way too similar to Tangled’s animation as I expected certain characters from Tangled to show up and help out Anna and her companions. It’s just something you don’t do. Additionally, Frozen could have been tweaked back in its storyboard stage before moving forward with the film. There are a few holes in its narrative that they don’t take the time to fully explain and like in how Elsa got her powers, Kristoff’s relationship to his reindeer Sven or his strange adopted Troll family, or even the misadventures of Olaf (who does steal the show with his comical dialogue, but doesn’t really serve a vital importance to the main story thread). These examples could’ve been expanded upon, offering a more satisfying understanding for audience members, but alas they’re not. Also, with Elsa (the Snow Queen) being more a good guy caught in tragedy, Frozen seems to lacking the central antagonist that classic Disney villain that you just love to hate and ultimately be defeated by the heroes of the movie. Finally, when the movie heads into the third act, there’s a plot twist that comes across as being a little “Too little, too late” by the time it happens.
Is Disney’s Frozen worth seeing? Definitely, yes! This Disney-esque film of a beloved children’s classic excels with its dazzling animation, excellent voice talents, a new take on an old tale, and musical songs that will surely be with you long after the movie has ended. Even with the film’s fair share of problems, Disney seems to be embracing its own timeless legacy and reiterates its endearing identity; harkening back to a time in everyone’s childhood of watching movies with talking creatures and singing princesses. The Kingdom of Ardendelle might be blanketed in eternal winter, but Disney’s Frozen will enchant moviegoers everywhere; warming their hearts this holiday season.
4.4 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)