I’ll admit, I initially was going to skip out on watching Disney’s latest CG princess film, Frozen. The trailers made it look almost like a variation of Dreamworks’ Ice Age movies. Then Disney released the following video online:
Ok Disney, THIS is how you market a movie. Case in point, in less than a few hours after watching this clip, I was headed to the local cineplex to watch Frozen. I even splurged for the 3D version, and I’m happy that I did.
Taking place in a Nordic-inspired area called Arrendale, Frozen focuses on two orphaned sisters who are tasked with running the kingdom. Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has the ability to create/control ice and snow, and Anna (Kristen Bell). When they were young, the two loved to play in the snow together. After an unfortunate accident, Elsa is forced to hide her powers from everyone, and subsequently shuts out Anna.
Years later, during her coronation, Elsa, stressed by trying to keep her powers hidden, and by Anna’s idiotic announcement of her engagement to a man she just met, loses control of her powers. She runs away to the mountains, leaving a deep snow storm in her wake. Anna decides to go after her sister, in order to convince Elsa to return. Along the way, she teams up with Kristof (Jonathan Groff), an ice salesman, and Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman brought to life by Elsa’s powers.
There were many moments in Frozen that happily surprised me. Romantic fairy-tale tropes take a back seat to sisterly love. Standard Disney character archetypes are giving way to more realistic personalities, flaws and all. I was so ready to write off Olaf as a shtick to please the kiddies, but he had some genuinely funny moments, not to mention a great song where he describes his ideal summer day. As for Sven, Kristof’s reindeer buddy, Disney did the right thing by NOT making him talk. There even is some great tongue-in-cheek humor about this, with Kristof imitating full conversations between the two.
Hands down, the best scene in the film is the song “Let It Go,” sung by show-stopper Idina Menzel (see above video). Elsa transforms herself from exiled freak to a confident, powerful snow queen, all while creating a gorgeous and elaborate ice castle. Yes, there are many similarities between this and broadway musical Wicked’s “Defying Gravity,” but I am completely fine with that. Both are powerful scenes that will have people singing and talking about it for years to come.
The animation of this film is just stunning. Disney was able to create some incredible scenery, from the snow-capped mountains, to Elsa’s ice castle. The snow effects were the most realistic I’ve seen in a CG flick, thanks to the slew of new tools created for this film. The character models do seem to borrow heavily from a previous Disney film, Tangled, but they are modified enough to where it doesn’t detract from the experience.
The story seems to lose a bit of focus in the last third of the movie, with several choices that seemed forced in order to get characters in place for the final act, but the payoff is well worth it. (again, thank you, thank you, thank you, Disney, for not taking the standard romantic resolution that you’ve used ad nauseum for decades.)
Overall, Frozen is yet another memorable film, harking back to, but just falls shy of, the Disney renaissance days of Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid. If Disney just marketed this film a little differently, I feel that the already-record-breaking box office numbers would be much higher.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go back to listening to the Frozen soundtrack, which the replay count has already hit double digits.