‘Frozen’ review

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

It’s been quite a while since Disney Animation Studios has put out a film that is worth of the title “classic”, however, the studio’s latest animated film Frozen is made of stuff that the guys over at Pixar would be jealous of.

Frozen is a coming of age story about two sisters, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), who are princesses in the kingdom of Arendelle – a lush land built around summer and surrounded by water.  Elsa, the older of the sisters, has the power of winter at her touch and as a young girl accidentally endangers the life of her younger sister.  After the scare, the King and Queen of Arendelle decide that Elsa is a danger not only to herself but to the entire royal family and even kingdom, so she’s given a pair of gloves and is shut off from the rest of the world.  After years pass and a tragic accident involving the King and Queen, Elsa assumes the role of Queen of Arendelle.  There is a coronation scheduled for Elsa that the entire kingdom is invited to and the castle’s doors are being opened for the first time in years.  Anna is the happy-go-lucky sister that wants nothing more than to experience life as its presented with no regrets.  She meets a handsome prince, Hans (Santino Fontana), who she falls madly in love with and wants to marry right away.  Anna, being Anna, goes to Elsa after the coronation requesting her blessing for their marriage, to which Elsa denies.  This only angers Anna who yells at Elsa, which angers Elsa, and sets off an eternal winter in the kingdom.   Now, of course I’m being extremely vague for a reason, but that’s the plot synopsis in a nutshell.

What makes Frozen a great Disney film, and a great film in general, is that it takes the cookie cutter Disney princess mold and shatters it completely.  Anna is the first Disney princess that is, perhaps, too down to Earth.  She’s too free-spirited.  However, it’s her fire, passion, and love for her sister that drives the film and recreates the mantra of “true love”.  Disney has brainwashed little girls everywhere that princesses fall in love with prince Charming and it’s consummated with “true love’s kiss”.  It’s that tag line that Frozen exploits for the first two-thirds of the film and then throws it right in your face with a twist that you’re going to love.

Disney has always had a knack for family storytelling, but they’ve never ventured to the “true love” aspect that can only be occupied by someone with your blood.  Anna and Elsa’s relationship is extremely rocky but you understand both sides and where they’re coming from.  You understand why Anna only wants to be Elsa’s bestfriend, you also understand why Elsa feels she has to put as much distance between herself and her sister.  Anna’s journey to reconnect with her sister and save her kingdom is something that Pixar missed the chance to establish with their last animated feature, Brave.   Merida’s strong-willed independence only endangered her kingdom but the rekindling relationship with her mother  never seemed genuine.  Brave wanted to establish Merida’s independently free spirit but then they switched it up and wanted to explore Merida’s rocky relationship with her mother.  It didn’t work, and the film suffered because of it.   With Frozen, the relationship between Anna and Elsa is established in the film’s first scenes and is explored throughout the film.  It’s genuine and the writing reflects the film’s emotions.

Frozen‘s supporting characters are also one of the film’s greatest aspects.  Anna meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a young, handsome ice-trader who’s best friend is his pet reindeer, Sven.  Kristoff is the sturdy male character that accompanies Anna on her journey through the snow-plotted mountains, but he also comes across as genuine with his feelings for Sven, towards Anna, and why he’s on this journey with her.  Anna and Kristoff also encounter a magical snowman, created by Elsa, named Olaf (Josh Gad), who serves as the film’s “funny” character but Olaf’s purpose is genuine too.  Olaf is the creation of Elsa due to her memories as a child with Anna playing in the snow building snowmen.  After Elsa almost kills Anna as a child, Anna’s memory’s were erased and she never remembered those times with her sister.  Olaf is the constant reminder that Elsa and Anna had always been bestfriend’s, even if one of them didn’t want that relationship anymore and one of the them couldn’t remember the relationship.  Josh Gad, who voices Olaf, shows off his singing chops as well as his comedic timing.  Just about every major character introduced in this animated film is perfectly written and most excellently cast.

Kristen Bell is a force as a leading voice actress, but it’s Idina Menzel’s voice who completely steals the show.  You probably wouldn’t recognize Menzel if you saw her in a film (she’s been a reoccurring character on Glee) but her voice is unmistakable, especially when she’s belting notes.  Her song in the film “Let It Go” may be one of the best Disney songs we’ve received since Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”.

I took my daughters to see Frozen this weekend and instantly felt gratification because the story preached family love over needing that “prince Charming” love.  It’s refreshing to see, honestly, and I’m probably going to take my daughter to see it again.  I’d recommend you do the same.

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