Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.
Year 2, Film #45
THE REVIEW: Disney knows not only how to tell a good story, but to tell a good story that appeals to a wide variety of people for different reasons. Besides seeing Wreck-It Ralph last year, Frozen is the first Disney Animation film I’ve seen since Treasure Planet way back in 2002 and all I can say is this: they sure have not lost their magic. Frozen is a beautifully written, incredibly visual, and instantly memorable and was entertaining from start to finish. This is a kids film, but as with all great kids films there should still be plenty of appeal for adults, or rather, make us adults want to be kids again, even if only for an hour and half so we can forget about things called responsibilities and just have fun and relax.
Right away, praise has to be given to everyone over at Disney who have seemed to nail down the “make the first 10 minutes really sad and depressing but then follow that with a fun and uplifting story” formula. Like with Up, albeit to a slightly lesser degree, Frozen starts off with a quick look at Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa’s (Indina Menzel) childhood and transition into adolescence. The childhood moments, where Elsa uses her magical powers to create snow and freeze things, are playful and inviting, but emotions soon begin to swell up when you see Elsa accidentally hurt her sister and the tragedy that follows soon thereafter. It wasn’t as powerful as the opening of Up was, but it certainly was close to it.
Throughout the rest of the film, two things stand out above the rest and they are the dialogue and the music. Dialogue is something I often mention in reviews when it’s done poorly, as an indicator of bad character development or even pacing in the film. Most of the time, dialogue and the writing goes unnoticed (or rather, unmentioned) simply because good writing should just feel natural. With Frozen though, there was something special about the way the characters talked that drew it to my attention. The writing matched the characters — their ages, personalities, mannerisms, etc. — so perfectly that everything just meshed together. Elsa, the Queen and the older of the two sisters, acts mature yet still has the impulses of a child. Anna, the younger of the sisters, is very impulsive and very outgoing making friends with every she meets including Hans (Santino Fontana), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven, and of course the snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). Olaf deserves special recognition as one of the best and, surprisingly (given that he is a snowman), one of the most realistic characters. He may be made of snow, but he has the heart of a human and is the most lovable and caring character in the film. He also says one of the best lines in the film, another that I’ve heard quoted many times already, “Some people are worth melting for.” All of this is due to a combination of the voices, the animation, and the writing, but to me, the writing stuck out as the strongest element of the bunch and was the most genuine dialogue I’ve heard in a film recently.
Also of note was the music. When it comes to music I might not be the best critic (my opinions are quite biased, usually against musicals), but I like to think I can present my argument well and therefore let you dear reader use that to determine whether you have the same taste as I do. Personally, I thought the music was extremely catchy and easy to follow along with. Starting off early with “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, which I had heard referenced countless times before seeing the film, is a great song to get you hooked and it’s easy to see why so many people are quoting it. The song sets the mood for the film, kicks off the first post-prologue scene, and introduces the adolescent Elsa and Anna all in a way that gets you tapping your foot and singing along in your head before the end. It is very reminiscent of old Disney animated musicals in the way that when you first hear those, something clicks and makes you feel as if you’ve heard them your whole life. Even though the songs are more expository than just pure entertainment (which I normally don’t like because that means I have to pay attention to the lyrics), they strike a great balance in that regard and are easily accessible to whomever watches Frozen.
The story of Frozen might seem like one that’s done before (Olaf’s character is very similar to Frosty the Snowman) and it is indeed based off of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but it has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing and keep you invested in the characters. In fact, there was one moment at the end I was not expecting at all and my reaction went from one of elation and joy to one of pure shock that had me speechless. Combine all that with the catchy music and writing that is as close to perfect as you can get, and Frozen is easily one of the most entertaining films of this winter season. Kids will obviously flock towards this film, but it’s also a great film for the whole family to enjoy, older siblings and parents included. There is something for everyone to enjoy and twenty years in the future, I think Frozen will be one of those Disney films that all kids will be introduced to; it will be a classic. I’m also calling for this over Monsters University for Best Animated Feature at the moment.
THE RATING: 5 out of 5