The retelling of classic fairytales is what Disney does best. There was a period where they attempted to do away with that formula and create wholly original films such as Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, Home on the Range, Chicken Little, just to name a few. The problems with those films was that everything was dumbed down. Stories were forgetful, sense of heart and adventure was lost and most of all, no songs or the songs were forgetful.
Back in 09 Disney jumped back into the fairytale pool with The Princess and the Frog. Then moved onto Tangled, which was loosely based on the story of Rapunzel. Now they’re back with another loosely based retelling of Christian Anderson’s The Ice Queen with Frozen.
After watching, I tweeted that the film was “magical.” It is the same word I used to describe the film to my friends. From the opening title sequence to the fairytale ending, Frozen was magic. The Disney magic that had been missing in their animated films for a few years now but has been slowly creeping in, especially due to the group of men and women who worked on Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph.
The story of Frozen is rather unconventional for a Disney film. You don’t have the love story as the main plot and there is little emphasis placed on the male characters of the film and no real villainous threat. You see Frozen, places a greater emphasis on its two female leads and their relationship and their bond. That is not to say the things I previously mentioned aren’t there, they just exist as subplots, not the driving attraction.
Frozen revolves around the story of two sisters, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel). Elsa has a magical ability to create ice and snow but after an accident where she nearly killed her sister Anna, she boards herself up in the castle and no longer uses her powers. Anna remembers nothing of the incident.
The parents decide to separate the two sisters. Both are isolated and both yearn for each other’s company. Years pass by through a montage, accompanied by a really touching song, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” Anna longs to be close to her sister but Elsa always keeps her distance in order to protect her sister.
After the parents die in a tragic accident, Elsa being the eldest daughter is set to become Queen. Anna is obviously excited to be reunited with her sister but things go horribly wrong as the Kingdom discovers Elsa’s power. Out of fear of hurting anyone, Elsa flees from her kingdom. Anna upset over want happens, runs after her sister, leaving the kingdom in the hands of Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), a man she just met and claims that he is her one true love. Along the way Anna meets ice delivery man Kristoff (voiced by Johnathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven, and Olaf the snowman (hilariously voiced by Josh Gad).
You can probably predict what happens next. If you think that’ll affect your enjoyment of this film you must be new to Disney. Every, single, Disney film ends the same way, especially with their fairytales. What’s important is the journey and the journey that Elsa and Anna take is one filled with magic, danger, humour, and love.
The film has a steady set of laughs but Josh Gad’s snowman with the sun fetish steals all the laughs, once he arrives. He even delivers the film’s funniest song, all about wanting to be a snowman during the summer.
Not only is this song great, but every single song in this film is outstanding. The songs are witty and catchy and memorable. There is one that stands above the rest and is huge contender for winning Best Song at the Oscars. Let It Go sung by Idina Menzel is a show stopper, one of the best songs to come from the Disney songwriters.
There are problems with the film. For example, certain plot points are never explained: how exactly is Olaf the snowman alive or how did Elsa get her powers. Also, there is no classic Disney villain. The people who do oppose Anna and Elsa never really felt threatening.
Regardless, the heart of Frozen is the bond between Elsa and Anna. Anna is bold and filled with this sense of adventure. You instantly relate to her, she’s charming, independent and naive. She believes in the notion of true love and love at first sight. She instantly falls in love with the first man she meets and accepts his hand in marriage after a few hours of being with him. Her story leads her on a path of finding herself and finding love. Elsa on the other hand, due to her powers, has developed trust issues. Her story leads her on a path to trust in herself, her powers and her sister.
The greatest power this film posses, and the reason I’m in love with it, is its ability to get across a powerful message without being heavy-handed. It’s creates two of the strongest Disney princesses to date and gives them the lead. These women aren’t perfect, there are some of the flawed characters you will ever encounter but it is those flaws that allow you to connect with their story on such a deep level.
Frozen is just tons of fun. It will melt your heart, through its witty writing, catchy tunes and subtle story. Watching it, brought me back to the Golden Age of Disney. The songs are some of the best since The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a simple tale, one that is quite predictable, but it is such a heartwarming and funny experience that it is impossible not get infected with its magic.
Score: 9 out of 10