The Scoop: 2013, rated PG, Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, starring the voices of Kristin Bell as Anna, Idina Menzel as Elsa, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, Josh Gad as Olaf
Tagline: From the creators of “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph”
Summary Capsule: Princess Elsa leaves her homeland in a deep freeze and her sister Anna will do whatever it takes to save it!
Joel’s Rating: 5 giant Crystal Ice Palaces out of 5!
Joel’s Review: Firstly, Disney’s Frozen comes with a Mickey Mouse short cartoon named ‘Get a Horse‘ that is probably the best and funniest thing Disney has used Mickey for in many years. It actually tricked me into thinking it was a classic black and white cartoon but it soon derails in a spectacularly funny way. It also shows some of Disney’s early characters that haven’t been on a screen in decades (but no Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. You have him back, Disney, now use him!).
Synopsis: Elsa and Anna are both princesses, Elsa being the older sister with white hair. Elsa has a very special magic being able to create snow and ice in large quantities, and both children get quite a thrill out of big sister’s power. After an accident that nearly kills Anna, Elsa vows to never use her abilities again since she isn’t truly in control of them. The girls grow up living under the same roof but apart, even when tragedy takes their parents away. Eventually, Elsa is to be crowned the new Queen. The doors of the palace are opened for the first time in many year and the sisters finally see each other again at Elsa’s coronation, but events cause Elsa to lose control again and she essentially blankets the entire town in a perpetual snowstorm, including freezing the bay and stopping shipping. She flees away from the city, and Ana will do whatever it takes to find her sister and bring her back home.
The first thing I want to say is, I really appreciate the Disney movies since they purchased Pixar and the Pixar guys are helping with the Disney-branded animated films. The princess films seem to just get better and better.
I also like that the Disney Princesses are being shown as more capable than the ‘classic’ ones. Here, both Anna and Elsa are presented as tough in their own way. Honestly, if Elsa, Anna, Merida (from Brave), and Rapunzel (from Tangled) took on Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, and Alice (princess of Wonderland, I believe. Sorry, I ran out of classic Disney Princesses!), the newer, tougher girls would wipe the floor with their elder ‘someday my Prince will come‘ counterparts!
Simply put, you have to really be a nit-picker to tear this one apart. Once I finished watching this film, I wondered about the King and Queen and their method of dealing with Elsa’s magic ability, but then while their plan wasn’t the best in the long run, we all hear stories of real parents making bad decisions in the face of terrible events, or even parents who do something really unorthodox but something that really works. In this case there are no fairy godmothers or teachers to advise them, so they do the best they can. Reflection actually strengthened the story for me.
Amazingly, we have a full family here, Mom, Dad, and two kids! Yes, the parents to perish in order to get to the main story, but still they are here. Disney is a bit notorious about having one parent for many of their princesses.
The creators of Frozen make a very interesting distinction during the film about the difference between loving someone and true love. For once, they seem to acknowledge that someone can love someone without falling deeply in love immediately within days or whatever. It gives the idea that what we see in the movie is a start, with a couple false starts added, but the rest comes later for our couple. We also have a princess who has no clue what love is and jumps at the chance at romance with no real thought about it. Disney is certainly trying out a few new ideas here, at least for them.
Frozen is pretty much a perfect mix of action, adventure, and characterization here. Even some of the one-note characters end up having a reason for what they do. Our other major character, Kristoff, really has some of the best lines in the movie while he is ‘talking’ to his reindeer Sven. Mind you, the critter doesn’t really talk, but Kristoff seems to use his ‘Sven voice’ as a conscious in a way, and it is hilarious. Joining Anna and Kristoff is Olaf, a snowman from the girl’s childhood that Elsa recreates and bring to life even as she flees to the mountains. As a snowman, Olaf is funny and not very knowledgeable of what summer heat will do to his kind (He obviously has never met Frosty). Sven, while he doesn’t speak, still show signs of ‘smarter than your average’ reindeer intelligence as usual, but he is a tough and loyal beast. Even the group of trolls shown only a couple times in the film is a treat to watch.
Of course, the movie has its songs and they are done beautifully. One of the early songs almost makes you cry, and the song that the trolls sing around the middle of the film had me crying with laughter!
The animation is also just gorgeous throughout. For example, there are shots with Elsa where her hair and parts of her outfit have different shades of white visible. The outdoor shots in the mountains are very well done, almost epic in some shots, and they weren’t filmed in New Zealand at all, to my knowledge. Someone, or rather a bunch of someones, put a lot of work into this movie, and I appreciate that a great deal.
There is one thing I really appreciated but I don’t think I can discuss it without revealing a few things, so for the next paragraph, SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Here is one of the things that I think is influenced by the Pixar crew and through them, Hiyao Miyazaki. For those who do not know the name, Miyazaki is a Japanese animation film maker whose movies have been distributed to America through Disney for years now, including titles like Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Ponyo. Not all of his films are kid friendly, but more than half are, and the man has a gift for presenting children pretty realistically. He also has many films that do not have a main ‘black hat’ bad guy. Frozen follows that path. Yes, there are several folks up to no-good in the movie, and one of them is a black-hearted scoundrel, but he really doesn’t take up much film time, does some good things in the movie, and has a good motive for what he does. Yes, he is bad, but he doesn’t drive the plot or story, that is done by the sisters and Kristoff. It is a bit different seeing no central villain in a Disney princess movie and having the worst of them treated as a side character that is only there to bring us to the climax. But even he didn’t cause the main threat of the movie; he didn’t curse Elsa with her magic, he didn’t keep her isolated, he didn’t make her lose control of her power (well, not directly), and he is really just being a manipulative putz until near the end when an opportunity presents itself and he crosses that line into true heartlessness. Maybe it is just me, but I thought it was magnificent that most of the trouble in the film was not caused by an evil, central figure Mwa-ha-haing over the story.
So overall, while there are a few things that could be nit-picked about the film, I did not really notice them while I watched and I thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s Frozen. It has a great balance of story, action, drama, music, and laughs (ok, a LOT of laughs)! It is also accessible to younger children; there might be a part or two that could scare a little one, I watched with a little girl not quite 4 yrs old and she was fine (she really liked the trolls, too!). Right now I believe Disney animation is reaching another high point and hopefully they do not lose it too soon. The last five years or so, it has been a good thing to be a fan of animation, and Frozen is a great movie that really brings out the best of what a Disney animated feature can be!
- Disney’s Frozen is (very loosely) adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen tale ‘The Snow Queen’.
- As guests are heading into the palace for the coronation, you can see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from ‘Tangled’ in a cameo.
- Disney, as a company, has looked at ‘The Snow Queen’ for many years, even since Walt Disney ran the company. The tale itself was problematic to turn into a Disney fairy tale type of movie.
- There are some critics of the ‘Get a Horse’ short cartoon who say that it insults Disney history, that the old black and white cartoons are something you only wait through to get to the good stuff. My opinion, it is a funny cartoon and that is all it is intended to be.
Anna: Do you want to build a snowman?
Elsa: Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.
The Trolls singing: He’s just a bit of a fixer-upper, he’s got a couple of bugs
His isolation is confirmation of his desperation for human hugs
So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but we know what to do
The way to fix up this fixer-upper is to fix him up with you!
Olaf, after walking himself onto a large icicle: Oh, look at that. I’ve been impaled!
Anna: Olaf, you’re melting!
Olaf: Some people are worth melting for.
Olaf: Oh! I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved the idea of summer and sun and all things hot.
Kristoff: Really? I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat.
If you like this movie, try these:
- Wreck-It Ralph