While at first I thought Disney’s newest animated feature, “Frozen,” would be skating on thin ice because of the push for yet another princess movie, in the end the story of two sisters overcoming obstacles in an ever-lasting winter melts viewers’ hearts.
The sisters grow apart as the older sibling, Elsa (Idina Menzel), tries to hide the powers that allow her to create snow and ice. The younger of the two, Anna (Kristen Bell), must find Elsa to reverse the effects of an outburst which left the kingdom of Arandelle frozen in an eternal winter. With the help of comedic characters like Christophe, an ice-seller, his trusty reindeer sidekick, Sven, and Olaf, an enchanted snowman whose dream is to see summer, Anna and Elsa free the kingdom of ice through Disney’s favorite power: love.
Criticism of the film is hard. However, some of Disney’s trademarks and pitfalls are present. It would not be a Disney movie without one or more of the parents being killed in the first several minutes and some extreme exaggerations, like surviving a 200-foot drop off a cliff. Besides the main characters, the appearance of extras is for the most-part plain and often heavier than the iconic thin princess. This is Disney’s way of “color-blocking,” but gives young girls the opinion that you must be a princess in order to be “beautiful.”
However, Bell’s character is more human than her Disney counterparts. The perfectly captured personality of a little girl grows with the character and is still seen in her physical and verbal actions. She is often awkward, which adds even more humor to the storyline. Her appearance, while still beautiful, is much more realistic with natural red hair and freckles that would make even Jenna Marbles proud.
Olaf the snowman is far from a disappointment and is the major comedic force, with entertaining one-liners and hilarious physical comedy. While Sven the reindeer is humorous as well, he has a much smaller role in the story than originally advertised in the movie’s promotions. Unique to animated Disney films, Sven does not speak, but instead his owner, Christophe, communicates his thoughts and has entire conversations without Sven uttering a noise.
The animation is awe-inspiring with true attention to detail present in the characters, castles and white winter. The design of characters is reminiscent of previous Disney work like “Tangled” and figures in the company’s theme park, such as the Abominable Snowman.
Music is yet another extraordinary feature of the picture. While several of the songs can be cheesy at times, Menzel’s solo, “Let it Go,” is arguably the highlight of the film and is already sparking talk of an Oscar nomination.
In the beginning of the story, Anna becomes engaged to a prince she has only just met, similar to other Disney classics like “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White.” Unlike its predecessors, “Frozen” makes it clear through several plot twists and dialog interchanges that the creators do not support the position of the other classics.
Homage is paid to the movie’s Norwegian cultural roots through certain architectural aspects, like the detailed carvings of a traditional Norwegian church and minor characters. For example, the owner of Oaken’s Trading Post (and Sauna) is the stereotypical giant, bearded Norwegian, accent and all. Trolls, often present in the culture’s folklore, have an important role in the story, despite little screen time.
Compared to similar animated movies, such as “Happy Feet,” which fell flat after great expectations, “Frozen” does not disappoint and will make audiences “want to build a snowman” this Christmas.