Directors: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk
Written by: Jennifer Lee, (story) Chris Buck, Shane Morris, (inspired by The Snow Queen) Hans Christen Andersen.
Running Time: 108 mins
Release date: 6th December 2013
Going to see a Disney animation of late hasn’t been the best cinematic experience. Monsters University was nothing more than fine and Plane was just downright lazy. I was seriously losing faith in the House of Mouse. Thank goodness, then, for Frozen, which is possibly their best film in a long, long time.
Anna and Elsa are sisters and daughters to the King of Arendelle. Elsa has a magical power: to produce snow and ice with the wave of her hand. Accidentally she hits Anna with one of her waves and the King immediately closes his home to the public and separates his daughters to protect each other from Elsa’s powers. Several years later and Elsa has become Queen but when Anna asks to marry Hans, a prince from one of their neighbouring kingdom, Elsa becomes angry and freezes Arendelle, then sends herself into exile in an icy castle in the mountains. Anna decides to find her in order to save their home and on the way, finds help from an ice collector called Kristoff, with his trusty reindeer Sven and a talking snowman, Olaf.
As soon as the film started, with a scene of men collecting ice from the sea, there is a sense that everything will be fine because it looks and feels like a proper, old-fashioned Disney animation with the twist of the 21st century. There is no denying that the animators at the studio are the best in the business and here it looks like old hand-drawn cartoon yet it is completely computerized. Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee don’t have much colour to work with, mainly white and blue, yet they create a magical piece of cinema, with beautiful designs and imaginative patterns as the ice is formed. It is a feast for the eyes.
It also employs the mix of keeping the kids happy while having plenty for the adults to like, yet it never overplays the adult parts, as some films of late have done. The balance is just right. It has all the ingredients of classic Disney: feisty princesses, handsome princes, cute animals, comic side-kicks, a solid story with plenty of messages and songs that are both inventive and toe-tapping.
They have also created a series of characters that could easily become as recognisable as Ariel the Little Mermaid, or Cinderella. Anna is tough, determined and a wonderful role model for any young girl. She genuine loves her sister and even in her darkest moment, she is desperate to protect her and help her and be there for her. In fact, the females in this film are the main protagonists with the male characters playing second fiddle and this works well.
There has to be comedy and while Sven the reindeer is cute, the real comedy comes from Olaf, the snowman, who loves nothing more than warm hugs and doesn’t understand that heat is bad for him. He has plenty of funny lines and with delight all who see him. In the hands of Josh Gad, who gives Olaf his voice, it’s a joy and one of the best creations from the stable. Kristen Bell is perfectly strong as Anna and Idina Menzel certainly can belt out a tune as Elsa.
So there are moments of schmaltz but it manages to add a nice, modern twist to a would-be traditional finale and it’s message of true love is well handled. The script is as crisp as the snow that cover the movie and the songs could easily have been lifted from a Broadway show, are both likeable and funny.
For a Christmas treat, this works in every department and I hope that other members of the Disney crew who are looking on will take note. This is how you make a perfect family adventure and if the kids have been very good this year, then I certainly can recommend you take them. They will love it and so will you.
N.B: Get there early so you can enjoy one of the most inventive short films I have seen that mixed nostalgia with modern technology.