Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, Frozen becomes the newest addition to the rich history of Disney princess movies. Is this a movie that will warm the hearts of children of all ages or will it leave you feeling out in the cold?
When they were very young, sisters Anna and Elsa were very close. They used to play all the time inside of their castle in the kingdom of Arendelle. But what made their playtime more magical is that Elsa has special powers of ice and snow which she would turn the ballroom into a winter wonderland of snowmen, slides, and ice rinks for her and her sister. One day after a tragic accident that left Anna with a frostbit mind, the king took his injured princess to the only being he knew could heal her, the magical Rock Troll King. The troll was able to heal young Anna, but warned the King that if it was her heart was frozen instead of her head, it may not be reversible. So the decision was made to wipe Anna’s mind of Elsa’s powers and separate the two children so no one could ever be hurt again. The King also warned Elsa to conceal her powers and don’t feel emotions because if anyone found out about her powers, their fear of her would would label her a monster.
In a voyage to another kingdom, the King and Queen’s ship capsized during a terrible storm in the ocean. This left Elsa and Anna orphaned princesses until the day that Elsa would be coronated as the new Queen of Arendelle. Being sheltered her whole life, Anna desperately just wants to meet people and she eventually bumps into a prince named Hans. They immediately hit it off, so well in fact that Hans asks Anna to marry him, but they want their new queen’s blessing. Elsa disapproves at their spontaneous decision. She and Anna argue and in a mental lapse she shows all the guests of the kingdom her frosty powers. Everyone is scared of Elsa so she escapes the kingdom for her safety. Unbeknownst to her as she flees into the mountains, she leaves Arendelle in a state of permanent winter. Anna knows she is the only one to reverse the spell so she goes after her. Can Anna, with the help of a mountain man named Kristoff, his reindeer named Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf, stop Elsa from from doing any more damage, or will Arendelle stay frozen forever?
Frozen is the 53rd animated feature film from Disney Studios and it fits the formula for a classic princess movie perfectly. It has a princess, or princesses in this case, that have to deal with an obstacle in life. It has a dashing leading man, or men also in this case, to help said princess deal with that obstacle. It has Broadway quality musical numbers written by award winning composers and songwriters that one of them will more than likely win an Oscar for Best Original Song. And it has both a quirky animal sidekick and a magical creature to add comic relief to not only entertain both kids and adults, but also cut the tension from the serious undertone of the movie that wouldn’t really make it a children’s movie. So just because Frozen fits the formula, does it work? On some levels it absolutely does, however it becomes convoluted in others with an over abundance of unimportant characters and songs.
The stars of the show are Anna and Elsa voiced by the beautiful and talented Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. It’s easy to say this movie is about sisterly love, but I took away a bigger sense of a family dealing with discrimination. Now that discrimination could be from an illness, handicap, or even homosexuality. Some families will go so far as to lock people out of their home as to not let outsiders in for fear of embarrassment. That’s exactly what Elsa and Anna’s parents do to them after Anna has her accident caused by Elsa’s powers. And if you think me saying that the analogy of Elsa being gay is a stretch, then why do they tell her to “conceal, don’t feel” and literally lock her in a closet? To me Frozen is a metaphor for family members accepting each other for who they are and not what the neighbors will think of them. When Elsa is finally able to come out of her proverbial closet, she leaves her bigoted town and becomes ‘fabulous” the the tune of “Let it Go.” It’s now Anna’s job to track her down in the mountains to tell her that she is still loved and to not let the hate of the people poison her heart. Both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel did a wonderful job with their voice acting, especially when it comes to singing. I never knew Bell had such a pretty singing voice, and of course Menzel brings her talents from Fox’s Glee and Broadway’s Wicked to belt out some amazing songs.
The men of Frozen come from two different backgrounds. Prince Hans voiced by Santino Fontana is the youngest of thirteen sons from a far away kingdom. He becomes Anna’s love interest as the two hit it off during the Queen’s coronation ball. He feels neglected by his family from being picked on and ignored by his twelve older brothers so Anna relates to the same type of loneliness. Kristoff the mountain man voiced by Jonathan Groff travels with his buddy Sven the Reindeer. He too is a loney guy as he usually has almost schizophrenic conversations with Sven. While the two characters indeed add to the plot and character development, they almost were unnecessary to the movie. Out of the two I really liked Kristoff in the same manner I liked Flynn Rider from Tangled even though he was basically the same character.
The songs of Frozen, and there are a ton of them, are fun and catchy. They may not be instant Disney classics like “Be Our Guest” or “A Whole New World,” but they do their job to tell Anna and Elsa’s story. I particularly liked “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” that is sung as Anna is growing up and tries to communicate to Elsa through her door. The film had actresses of different ages to sing the song as Anna grows up. I thought this song was extremely touching. The other major song is “Let it Go” sung by Elsa as she transforms into the Ice Queen. To just listen to the song doesn’t do it justice. You really have to hear Idina Menzel’s angelic voice accompanied by the stunning visuals of snow and ice effects as she metamorphosizes herself and creates her ice castle. The only problem I had with some of the songs were during the duets when I felt the singers were singing over themselves. I know it’s a musical, but for small kids in the audience they might be confused with the lyrics. With so many musical numbers in the movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney wasn’t already planning a Broadway musical based on the movie. I can also already imagine “Frozen on Ice” the skate show.
The animals and creatures of Frozen are Sven the Reindeer and Olaf the Snowman. Sven reminded me a lot of Maximus the Horse in Tangled. He wasn’t a talking reindeer, but was still able to communicate well with facial expressions and body language. But who really steals the entire show is Olaf. He has got to be one of the most adorable Disney sidekicks ever. He is so lovable that you just want to go out and buy stuffed animals and t-shirts with his likeness on them. He has a song called “In Summer” about how he can’t wait to feel the warmth of the sun and hang out at the beach. It’s such a cute song because everyone knows the punchline except for Olaf who has no idea that heat will make him melt. Olaf is also perfect a perfect character at times, because he says exactly what the audience is thinking, especially at some obvious moments in the movie. Olaf is to Frozen what the Minions are to Despicable Me… only better. If you don’t leave Frozen thinking Olaf is the most adorable character ever, then you may just have a heart of ice.
Visually, Frozen is absolutely stunning. You get the feeling you really are in a blizzard in Norway. The weather effects are great and the snow actually looks real as opposed to cartoon styrofoam snow. My screening was in 3D and it made the whole experience even better. The 3D added so much depth to the film, especially with Elsa’s ice powers. You could tell that the filmmakers also paid a lot of attention to detail to the Norwegian outfits and architecture. On the big screen, you could see all the little details in the fabric like the embroidery in the outfits. I wouldn’t be surprised if the World Showcase at Epcot Center gets a complete makeover for its Norway area.
In classic Disney animated tradition, Frozen starts out with a cartoon short called “Get a Horse!” It begins as a simple 2D black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon reminiscent of Steamboat Willie, but quickly turns into a whole other experience in a convergence of both 2D and 3D color animation at its finest. This cartoon was so cool, it could easily be an attraction at Disney World like Philharmagic at the Magic Kingdom or the Muppet 3D movie at Hollywood Studios. This is another major aspect on why seeing Frozen in 3D is totally worth it.
I went into my screening with one movie on my mind and that was Tangled, especially since the marketing of the movie wants you to know that they also made Frozen. To me, the story of Rapunzel was a perfect Disney princess movie. It was well balanced for not only boys and girls, but for kids and adults. It wasn’t silly and it had a powerful leading lady who was a strong independent woman, which as a father of three daughters, I felt she is an amazing role model to impressionable little girls. I also thought it was well balanced between the singing and non musical moments. So where does Frozen fit into the picture? In my opinion, a slightly distant second. While the princesses are indeed charming, they are sort of forgettable. You barely see Elsa, and when you see Anna, she is all worried about meeting her version of Prince Charming. Not to spoil anything, but I was at least relieved how the movie ended. I was completely clueless to the red herrings thrown throughout the film, but needless to say, I do feel both Anna and Elsa turned out to be strong women and not just typical princesses waiting for true love to rescue them. I admit I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but I felt there were way too many songs in the movie. I know, I know, that’s what a musical is, but the film could have cut out the opening song and maybe one other song just to balance everything out. Overall, I was thoroughly entertained and so was my family. I liked the characters and the final message the movie was trying to send.
If you’re not a fan of movies with heavy musical numbers, then Frozen may not be your cup of tea, but if you love classic movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, then you should definitely check it out, especially in 3D. The visuals are great and worth the extra bucks for the extra dimension of depth, especially with the opening cartoon and the winter effects of the main feature. Frozen is a fun movie for the whole family to enjoy.
Official Site: http://movies.disney.com/frozen/