Review: Frozen

Posted by Matthew on December 03, 2013
Movies, Reviews

Frozen

There’s two things I can tell you right off the bat about Frozen. First, contrary to what the marketing would have you believe, it isn’t a movie about a snowman and a reindeer. Second, it is in facta Disney Princess movie.

What’s interesting about these two facts is that I have no idea why they marketed so heavily on the snowman and the reindeer because it’s actually a really good Disney Princess movie. More than that it’s actually just a really good movie.

Frozen tells the story of Elsa and Anna, sisters and princesses of Arendelle (yes, two princesses, sorry parents out there). Elsa is born with the ability to magically create and manipulate ice and snow. One night they are playing as children and Elsa accidentally magically injures Anna. Anna is cured magically but the cure involves erasing her memory of all magic, Elsa becomes scared of her power and withdraws from her sister and then, just when they need guidance the most, their parents are killed in a freak accident.

By the time they grow up Anna is still basically a child who is left wondering why her sister and best friend shuns her and Elsa is basically stuck at the start of puberty with her power growing but afraid to explore it for fear of hurting someone and people reacting badly when they see it.

Long story short when it’s time for Elsa to ascend the throne the sisters have some awkwardness, Elsa’s powers come out and she gets the exact reaction she was afraid of and retreats into the mountains to hide but in the process creates a perpetual winter in the kingdom.

It’s time to get one thing out of the way: I grew up during Disney’s 90s renaissance and I’m actually a pretty big fan of that type of movie. It worked well but in the 00s they went through a phase of not really knowing what they were doing. Frozen is pretty much both a near perfect return to form and a near perfect update of the formula for today. See Frozen is a love story but it’s a love story between sisters: they and their relationship is the focus of the story. There are men involved but they are secondary. And yes, there is a snowman and a reindeer but they are the comic relief.

Olaf and Sven, the snowman and reindeer respectively, are both brilliant. Sven is a reindeer that thinks hes a puppy and Olaf is a snowman who longs to experience summer. They’re both effectively one joke characters but they’re both used exactly the right amount: Not so little you want to see more, not so much they get old. Gad brings a certainly lovable sweetness to Olaf which fits perfectly as well.

It really is the sisters story though and they are both well cast. Anna, the lighthearted childlike one is Kristen Bell while Elsa the closed off one is played by Broadway star Idina Menzel. Their vocal styles, Bell’s higher pitched lighter voice and Menzel’s lower more powerful one compliment each other amazingly both as contrast for their own songs and when they are singing counterpoint.

And yes, there are songs. Its a Disney Princess movie remember? They’re all good but the stand out by far is “Let It Go”, the song Elsa sings when she arrives in the mountains and really explores her powers for the first time. It’ll likely be the go to song for any kind of coming out / leaving home / coming of age moments in kids life for the next few years (almost surprised it hasn’t been on Glee already), and more than that it’s the one on which Idina Menzel really lets loose and man can she sing.

Another small but brilliant move: all of the main cast–save Kristen Bell– are broadway stars so in addition to being able to act they actually sing their own parts and they all really can sing –including Bell.

And I haven’t even talked about how gorgeous it is. There was a time if you said “computer animated” and not also “Pixar” people would assume that it wasn’t very well done but this is some of the best animation I’ve seen, especially the snow (which Disney apparently developed new technology to animate).

All in all Frozen is a great film. I’ll be legitimately surprised if it doesn’t clean up at The Oscars this year both as best animated film and at least two nominations for the songs. If you’re a parent you should be planning to take your kids if you haven’t already (yeah, this review is slightly late) and even if you’re not? It’s a pretty perfect date movie too.

So what are you waiting for? Go see it already!

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  • Good review Matthew. While it definitely is for the kiddies, the parents can find something to enjoy with this as well. So basically, it’s fun for the whole fam-squad!

    • Matthew

      Exactly!