(This is a second opinion on this movie on this site. The first opinion, written by ArcGunner, can be found here. Also, in case you didn’t guess, I’m not going to be just a guest writer, I’m going to be a regular contributor.)
I’ve always been sort of contrary and nowhere is this more apparent than in my relationship with the Disney Corporation; as my generation grows ever more attached to Disney and its every output, I’ve only grown more distant from it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to enjoy more offbeat children’s animation (The Secret of Kells, ParaNorman, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Triplets of Belville etc.) which has often made some of Disney’s lesser or middling output begin to pale in comparison. On the plus side, since I’m not nostalgia blinded, you can believe me when I tell you that Frozen is really good.
The plot, supposedly (but not really) based on the Hans Christen Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen is devoted to two princess sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) living in the non-specifically Norwegian fantasy land. Elsa is born with the unexplained ability to be Iceman (cheap joke I know). One day, while playing as kids, Elsa accidentally causes a near fatal injury to Anna. She gets magically fixed, but loses her memory of Elsa’s magic in the process, for reasons that aren’t made abundantly clear. Elsa is wracked with guilt and shuts herself off from the world and Anna doesn’t know why she’s shut out by someone who used to be her best friends.
Years later, after the King and Queen suffer the Disney Mandated Parents Removal (this time by way of shipwreck) and Elsa is about to ascend the throne, they have a big party, where Anna falls in Disney Mandated Love at First Sight with the visiting Prince Hans. Elsa overreacts and reveals her powers and gets…well the reaction she was expecting. She bolts off into self-imposed exile on the mountain but her overreaction causes a premature winter and traps the visiting dignitaries. Anna teams up with an ice salesman Kristoff to go talk Elsa down off the mountain (literally) and leaves Hans in charge.
That is a LOT going on in literally the first act and while it might sound like the resulting movie is overstuffed, it’s not. The film’s closest relative in the Disney canon is Brave (yes I know it’s Pixar, shut up). While it’s far superior to Brave, at least in execution, like Brave it’s centrally about the relationship between the two women, as opposed to an outside love interest. Oh that element is there, especially in the 3rd act (which I won’t spoil, primarily cause it involves a pretty fascinating reveal) but it’s overall about the love between the two sisters.
The best and most consistently awesome part of the movie are the songs. Idina Menzel is still best known for Wicked and she reminds us why, with easily the best Disney song in years, as well as using her lower register and bigger voice to keep it ambiguous whether she’s going to shake out on the good or evil side. Most of the rest of the songs run from solid to overall good (most, more on that in a moment). It’s also a little better on the script side than a lot of recent Disney offerings.
The animation is also on the gorgeous side. The complaint that I’d heard earlier, that the two girls look very similar and are based on the same model as Rapunzel from Tangled is accurate, but the distinction comes when you get to see them in motion and with their facial animation. The animation used to realize Elsa’s ice is gorgeous to look at and a couple of the bigger action sequences are really well put together.
Okay I’m beginning to risk overselling it, it’s definitely not without its flaws. I get that part of the current Disney Formula is to have at least one big comedy song number, usually around the middle, but this one is really poorly placed and particularly bad as far as these songs go. The final action sequence is lacking in a bit of tension and there are a couple things that feel like they go too unexplained for my tastes. Oh and yes, the snowman is completely useless, hangs around the entire movie and starts to grate around the 3rd act. And I’m sorry Disney, but the attempts to make him poignant fall completely flat.
I’ve often been on the receiving end of some anger because I didn’t like this or that Disney movie (ask me about how some of my film school buds reacted to me naming Up the 4th best Animated movie of 2009 sometime). Rather than making me want to be nicer to Disney movies, it’s often caused me to dig in my heels and be even harsher to Disney. So when I tell you that Frozen is actually worth seeing, you know it’s actually good.
Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he would like to request that the soundtrack be redone by Tyr.
-interesting take on the Disney formula
-well written and voiced
– lack of tension in the 3rd act
-irritating comedy relief