- Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
- Writers: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
- Stars: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff
Summary: Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa.
“Frozen is anything but cold”
The Walt Disney Animation Studio has been on an upward swing in recent years. Gone are the half hearted attempts at peoples wallets with films such as Brother Bear and Chicken Little and in their place are the well received Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Films with the imagination and heart that Disney was once known for. Does the studio’s latest provide it with the long overdue hat trick it so desperately needs, or has the studio lost its way once more?
As someone who has a deep rooted love for Disney I am happy to report that Frozen is a good film, nay, a great film, with touches of Disney’s past work blending perfectly with the quirky humor of their newer films. But while Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph veered more towards the light hearted side of things, particularly Tangled with its comedy and frying pans to the face, Frozen is a much more heartfelt and somber story, one that isn’t afraid to pile on the stresses for its characters to carry and hopefully overcome. This story is cold and bitter leaving its main players longing for something more. Something real.
The themes on display here are pretty heavy stuff for kids, albeit still in a swallowable cute Disney pill with plenty of laughs along the way. With characters feeling alone, abandoned, confused, hurt and frightened it is lucky that all is not doom and gloom as it is all melted away by the films characters and its beating heart making Frozen one of the best animated films in years, not just a good Disney one.
Frozen is a loose retelling of the story The Snow Queen and follows two sisters from inseparable childhood to unspeaking maturity. After the two inherit the castle and the responsibilities of their parents, Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, longs to leave the confines of the castle and experience the world for the first time. Older sister Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, only wishes to stay inside the castle walls far away from the publics eye. Things get worse for the two when Anna thinks she’s found the man of her dreams and she and the rest of the citizens of Arendelle discover Elsa’s secret – that she has power over the freezing elements.
This reveal causes Elsa to lose control of her abilities and soon she is branded a witch by visiting royalty. Elsa, afraid and confused, flees the kingdom but not before she mistakenly leaves it in an unending Winter. Thus it is up to Anna to rekindle the relationship with her estranged sibling and for the two of them to fix the kingdom of Arendelle.
The themes of fitting in and being loved are nothing new to film or animation but the manner in which Frozen retells this story is a breath of fresh air. Frozen lives and dies by its two leads and luckily the animators and the actresses bring their A’ game. It is not hard to see Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel in Anna and Elsa. From the films amazing facial animations to its terrific body language; these sisters wear their emotions on their sleeves in a beautiful way. It also helps that the two are complete opposites with Kristen’s bubbly personality clashing with Idina’s much more gloomy persona.
The two actresses are joined by Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff both of which give stellar performances as Olaf the snowman and Kristoff the ice trader. These two get the chance to steal some scenes with their comedic abilities but luckily the film never loses focus of what matters; the relationship of its two female leads.
The story is one of inner turmoil and the conflicts that can erupt from such demons but the writing team also manage to provide some physical threats towards the end of the film stemming from some twists and turns. While one obstacle may seem to come from left field luckily the conflict is over rather quickly and is also taken care of in a brilliantly respectable manner that could have easily gone another way. In fact the best compliment that can be given to the writing and directing team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee is that they never lose focus of the heart of the film, even when it may look like they have.
Visually Frozen looks terrific. The new technology powering the snow is incredible and as mentioned before the animators have brought the characters to life with brilliant fluidity. The soundtrack is also quite good with the better songs keeping with the themes of loss and fear.
“Do you want to build a snowman?” starts off with a bright eyed young Anna hoping to have a fun day with her sister but ends with a hopeless adult kneeling against her sisters door fighting back tears as she asks for one last time if Elsa would like to build a snowman. The voice of Bell cracking with the string and piano work in the background just pull at your heart. The best song in the film however belongs to Menzel as Elsa is for the first time in her life no longer forced to hide away from the world. Able to become the woman she was destined to be she shows off her powers to the mountains and the night sky. Indeed “Let it Go” isn’t simply one of the best Disney songs in years, but the entire scene was the highlight of the film for me. A celebration of growth and defying of expectations.
When the credits rolled I walked out of Frozen enjoying the film but it wasn’t until after, when I was comparing the cast and story to previous Disney classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid when I truly started to see how much more I cared and enjoyed the journey of Anna and Elsa. These are, in my opinion, the best Disney Princesses around and are great role models for a new generation. Gadd’s Olaf is sweet and appealing, Jonathans Kristoff is noble and kind, but Bell’s Anna and Menzel’s Elsa are brave, strong, caring, funny and loyal. They are fleshed out characters and ones that can be looked up to. All of this adds up to the fact that Frozen is a great family film and the one to beat for Disney Animation Studio’s. –Chuck
- + Performances are great
- + Animation is terrific
- + Well realized characters
- + Song delivery and diversity
- – No real antagonist
- – Possible unnecessary twist