Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Movie Review - Frozen

As a lifelong Disney fan, I knew I'd see Frozen eventually. From the very initial teaser trailers I had no idea what to expect. They certainly weren't giving away much of the plot at all. But the animation looked good so I was encouraged. As more trailers came out, I became more encouraged and then once it was released and started getting good buzz, I was more excited to go see it.

Going back to fairy tale roots, Frozen is a very loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. While it shares some general similarities from a high level, the overall plot is significantly different from the Andersen tale. In Disney's version we have the story of two sisters, princesses of Arendelle. Unfortunately the older sister Elsa has a magical problem...she can freeze things at will.

As a child Elsa's powers are limited but as she gets older her powers grow in strength as well as in difficulty to control them. Elsa is a good girl with a good heart but since she can't control her powers, she's forced to hide them and live tucked away from everyone.

Her younger sister Anna doesn't understand and wants them both to go outside into the world. As time plays its course, Elsa's secret is revealed and we find that the power has grown significantly. Elsa gains some control but not before plunging the world into ice.

The animation is fabulous. They did top notch in balancing the beauty and harshness of the frozen countryside. The snow and ice effects were great and the characterizations were a ton of fun. Each of the character's are distinct and have great visual nuances and style.

The overall plot of this movie is compelling and quite fun. The writing felt much more cheesy than in recent Disney films. The story had a fair amount of heart and so when the cheesiest jokes and one-liners came out they felt a little misplaced amid the sentiment of the story. Still they made for some good chuckles. The kids especially loved the naiveté and wordplay of Olaf the snowman. While most of the plot focuses on Anna and Elsa, there is also a romantic side-plot going on as teenage Anna dreams of true love.

The music was good but again felt a little unbalanced. The score is fabulous and really draws you in. Some of the songs felt just far too flippant and lighthearted. Still fun but a little on the cheesy side overall for my taste. It vaguely reminded me of the unbalanced (in my opinion) songs in Hunchback...while the numbers from the Trolls, Olaf and Kristoff were fun and silly, they weren't my favorites. I loved, loved, loved Idina Menzel's rendition of Let it Go. Such a fabulous song. I was dismayed to see that Disney opted to have Demi Lovato do the "single version" of the song rather than keeping Idina for both versions. Demi just doesn't have the depth (IMO) to adequately carry off that song as well as Idina. I recently saw the music video for Demi's version and as I watched and listened, it just felt like Demi is trying way too hard and falling a little flat. The Anna songs (sung by Kristen Bell) are cute and really match her character. While there's not a ton of depth to Anna's early songs, they all have that sense of innocence and pure love that drives her.

Disney has also brought back the tradition of having a cartoon short prior to their films. For Frozen they went classic and brought Mickey Mouse and friends back to the big screen. They played on the "theater" aspect with some fun and silly meta gags. It was a lot of fun to see Mickey on a theater screen again and I'm really enjoying the direction of the new Mickey Mouse cartoons that have been put out lately. Their animation style is a little different from the classics, but the writing and pacing is hilarious fun. If you haven't seen them, you really need to check them out.

Overall Frozen is a very fun movie. While it's not a Grand Slam, I still felt like it was another good home run for Disney. The story has a lot of heart and is just a good solid family show. The writing and characterizations are fabulous and will have viewers chuckling throughout. While I didn't absolutely love all of the songs, I really loved a couple and had fun with all of them. My daughter is still bouncing around the house singing some of the songs. Definitely another winner in the Disney camp.

4 out of 5 stars


Brian Miller said...

nice...i heard that it is nothing like the previews and much more of a princess movie...we will see it eventually as well....maybe at the dollar theatre...we will see what this week brings...

Brian Miller said...

oh and happy new year man