Image from movies.disney.com/frozen
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana
Distributer: Walt Disney Studios
[This is a review of the 2D version.]
I feel Disney has had trouble, as of late, trying to recapture the feel of its early ’90s pictures. For every step they take forward in making something great in “Tangled” or “Enchanted,” they fail in their attempts in “Princess and The Frog” and “Brave.” Despite the fantastic song “I Got Friends on the Other Side” from “Princess and the Frog,” and the first thirty minutes of “Brave,” it seemed that Disney is trying too hard to recreate the magic of films like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” When the ads started to come out, I got a bad feeling that it would fall into the same trappings of “Princess and the Frong” and “Brave.” Surprisingly not only was it better then “Tangled” and “Enchanted,” it may be the best traditional Disney film the studio has done since the days of “Beauty and the Beast,” aka the Disney Renaissance.
Loosely based Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” fairy tale, “Frozen” is about twin princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa is born with the gift of creating and controlling snow and ice. After an accident that leaves Anna hurt, their parents make the decision to lock away their kingdom of Arendelle from the outside world. They hide Elsa in the castle, in fear that her powers may get out of control around people who wouldn’t understand. Years later, her abilities go out of control, creating her own castle of ice. Unfortunately, this plunges Arendelle into winter and Anna travels to get Elsa back and reverse the winter storm. In her search, Anna meets an ice cutter named Kristoff, his reindeer and a living snowman named Olaf who help her in her journey.
Unlike past Disney animated musical features, “Frozen” seems to take a lot of its cue from the Broadway style of storytelling. Tony-Award-winning composer and song writer Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon) with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez (2011’s Winnie The Pooh) craft one of the best complete soundtracks Disney has had in years. Where most films will have a song that just wont click, all of the songs in “Frozen” work incredible well. There are some songs that start off like the all-too-familiar Disney song, such as Olaf the Snowmans’s song about wanting to see summer, but the song is performed so well that it breaks expectations. In a set of really solid musical numbers, “Let It Go” was the strongest song while also being the most impressive performance with Elsa letting down her hair, stomping her heels and creating her new snow kingdom. She lets her powers flow free and isn’t afraid of the consequences.
Along with great songs is a fantastic cast that really brings excitement and fun to the characters. Unlike past Disney films where it’s about the princess meeting her true love, “Frozen” is more about the love between two siblings. Anna, played by Kristen Bell, and Elsa by Idina Menzel both perform well, each bringing a lot of energy and charm to their roles. Jonathan Groff, as Kristoff, is a great as the companion helping Anna on her journey. Their characters remind me a lot of the dynamic between Flynn and Rapunzel from “Tangled.” Kristoff has a lot of really great back-and-forth dialogue with Anna, but his best parts involve him and his reindeer, Sven. As someone who has owned pets in the past, I loved how Kristoff talks with Sven. Even Josh Gad as Olaf, the obvious comic relief, was really great. Usually these characters can really misfire if their performances are flat, but Gad gives 100 percent to the role and delivers some really funny moments.
An added gem was the Mickey Mouse before the feature started, called “Get A Horse!” Blending 2D/3D animation with an original voice track from Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse, it starts off the movie experience with a bang. Along with last year’s “Paperman,” the shorts atthe start of these Disney films are starting to rival those of their Pixar counterparts.
With a weak year for animated films, “Frozen” leaves them all behind in the snow. It harkens back to the best of Disney while also blazing its own trail, creating what will become one of the best animated films Disney has created yet.
Image from movies.disney.com/frozen