The advertising for this film is almost comically wrong. I do wonder how many of the noisy children that infested my screening of Frozen were expecting to see a cutesy cartoon about a talking snowman and his reindeer pal, rather than a visually magnificent musical about two sisters who love each other dearly but are torn apart by the deadly powers of one of them. Too many, I would guess.
The sisters I’m referring to are princesses Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). The latter, who’s about to be crowned the new queen of Arendelle, has been an isolated outcast since childhood. The reason for this is an ability she was born with that could potentially endanger the lives of those around her: the power to freeze things and create winter where winter should not be. Anna’s memories of her sister’s powers have been removed for her own good, but on the day of Elsa’s crowning, she reveals her abilities yet again and unleashes them more powerfully than ever. This is on the same day that Anna meets a handsome prince named Hans (Santino Fontana) and instantly decides she wants to marry him, something that gets beautifully lampshaded throughout the rest of the movie.
Either way, Elsa runs off after cursing Arendelle to what seems to be eternal winter. Anna intends to go find her and restore the land, but not before she finds herself teamed up with a young mountain man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his dog-like reindeer named Sven, and of course, the guy who appears on all the posters: Olaf the Snowman (voice by Josh Gad). I still don’t get why Olaf dominates most of the posters as though he were the most important character. It’s kinda like advertising the Ice Age movies with nothing but images of the Scrat… Oh, wait.
The film also contains songs, I feel I should point out. One in particular is claimed by many, especially hardcore Disney fanboys/fangirls everywhere, to be the most fantastic song in recent Disney history. I spent majority of the film trying to guess which one they were referring to. These are the same people who think Elsa should “totally date” the character of Jack Frost from Rise of The Guardians in a future crossover. I dunno, I’d rather have her be with Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin.
Based on a story by Danish fairy tale genius Hans Christian Andersen and directed by Chris Buck (director of Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (co-writer of Wreck-It Ralph), Frozen has on multiple occasions been marketed as the most spectacular Disney film since Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King. I won’t go as far as calling it that but I was still pleased with what the movie had to offer. Elsa is a perfect example of a character that’s “not evil, just misunderstood” and her relationship with her sister Anna is a nice foundation for the film’s more dramatic aspects. The comedy, though, is also better than I expected and I enjoyed the character of Olaf a surprising amount. Then there’s that delightful surprise regarding the film’s supposed Prince Charming archetype. I will, of course, not reveal it.
Even if the movie lacks original and inspired character designs, the CG work in Frozen is all about the visuals surrounding said characters. This is some of the most perfectly rendered snow and most correctly simulated blizzards I’ve seen in a film and you almost feel cold just by watching it. Basically, I am impressed by how well they portrayed what winter here in Scandinavia is normally like. Even the snowman, cartoon-y though his design may be, is actually pretty realistic-looking up close. Sure, I would’ve loved it if he looked more like the evil snowman from Imaginaerum but that’s just my imagination doing what my imagination does.
Before Frozen started playing, though, our theatre first showed Get A Horse, a brand new Mickey Mouse short film that blends the classic 1920’s look of Mickey’s earliest cartoons with modern CGI in what is one of the most cleverly crafted short films I’ve seen in recent years. I can’t do it justice in words so I’ll just advice that you check it out. In 3D. This short is one of the few things that actually needs to be in 3D in order to work properly. I’m not sure if I can make the same case for Frozen.
Oh and I almost forgot: [insert comment about Disney’s despicable white-washing tendencies that are prominent in other Disney films besides Frozen here]. There, my review is complete.