Review – Frozen

Frozen Poster

Loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson classic fairytale, The Snow Queen, Frozen is related to it’s source material like Tangled was to Rapunzel.  Except even less.

When young princess Elsa (Idina Menzel), who possesses the unnatural ability to conjure frozen wonders, nearly kills her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) by accident, she and her parents decide the best thing to do is keep her powers hidden and secret from everyone, including Anna who grows up with no memories of her near death experience or Elsa’s magic.

Even when their royal parents perish at sea, the two girls remain sequestered in the palace until it is necessary to have a public coronation of Elsa as she officially takes the throne.  The two sisters have very different ideas of what the day will be like as Elsa just wants to get it over with as quickly as possible, hoping to get through it without losing control and revealing her curse.  Anna is overjoyed to see other people and hopes this is her opportunity to find true love.  Anna’s hopes, though, lead to Elsa’s fears in an icy confrontation involving a handsome prince named Hans (Santino Fontana).

Fleeing the scene and leaving frigid disaster in her wake, Elsa disappears into the wilderness.  Determined to save her sister and the people of her kingdom, Anna takes off after her, meeting help along the way in the form of a young ice salesman (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a little talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).  Oh, and there is also a royal conspiracy brewing.  Like I said, “loosely based” may be too strong a phrase here.

Somewhat inspired by The Snow Queen, this film retains the fact that there is a person by that description and that love may conquer icy feelings.  It’s OK though, as this Disney film doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

I expected to hate this film, at least as soon as Olaf shows up.  Watching the trailers, the most apt description of his character that came to mind was The Jar Jar Binks of snowmen.  More on Olaf in a minute since he doesn’t actually show up for a good while, despite dominating the marketing material.

First off, this is a gorgeous looking film.  I am half convinced that the only reason this film project was begun was in order to have something to showcase incredibly rendered ice and snow.  While overall the animation is more cartoony than some other movies, some of the snowy scenery is incredibly realistic and just fun to look at.

From the enjoyable and not completely one dimensional characters (personality wise, not animation, sadly), to some catchy songs and music, this almost feels like an old school Disney flick.  It is missing an obvious and well defined villain, though, such as Gaston or Maleficent, but I think it’s actually better off for it.  It teases the audience with cliches, but turns many of them on their heads, so even if you might think you know where things are going, how we get there is a bit surprising.

OK, back to Olaf.  When this oddly shaped talking snowman shows up, despite his “I’m the goofy sidekick” type role, you can’t help but like him.  Somehow his naivety is endearing rather than annoying and he’s not so much stupid as earnest and innocent.  He has some rather touching scenes, as well as some pretty funny ones that don’t end up as crass as you might expect, considering.  Surprisingly, I actually like the weird guy.

Most impressive here is the storytelling as nothing feels superfluous or half-baked.  This is a very solid tale with real characters, real plot, and real enjoyment.  It’s a lot better than you probably think it is, so give it a shot.

Mrs. Hamster says:

“It was cute and better than I thought it would be.  I think kids will really like it.”

My rating: Four out of five hats

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Trailer:

Frozen ices over 3,742 theaters, November 27