Frozen Movie Review
Disney learns a lesson from Pixar's Brave, giving these orphaned princesses some feisty purpose that doesn't depend on a man. Everything else about this movie is fairly formulaic, including the requisite goofy sidekick character. But the frosty animation adds a stately, dramatic tone that's picked up by Broadway-style songs and just a hint of moral complexity in the story, which is based on Hans Christian Andersen's story The Snow Queen.
With her ability to freeze anything at a touch, young Queen Elsa (voiced by Menzel) has spent her life hidden away in the castle. No one can know her secret, including her restless little sister Anna (Bell), who meets her dream man in Hans (Fontana) on the day of Elsa's coronation. But Elsa's startled reaction to this news triggers an ice age in the kingdom, which sends Elsa fleeing to hide in the mountains. So Anna decides to track her down. She enlists help from local delivery boy Kristoff (Groff) and his pet reindeer, and as they head into the hills they encounter one of Elsa's newest creations: a singing, dancing, scatterbrained snowman named Olaf (Gad).
The winter wonderland setting gives the animators a lot to work with, and the imagery is spectacular. We actually shiver at the gleaming ice and snowy landscapes, which are so detailed that they make us want to see the film again. The characters are also sharply rendered, although they're designed without much subtlety, including the usual Disney physicality in the girls' big-eyed Barbie-like figures. But the plot keeps us off balance by, for example, giving Anna two eligible men to choose between. And also by making Elsa so internally conflicted about her unwanted powers.
With just enough interest to draw us in emotionally, we don't really mind the presence of a slapstick character like Olaf. And the fable's various messages come through clearly without ever becoming heavy-handed. It's great to see a big animated romp in which strong young women do everything on their own terms. And it's also nice to see a film that reminds us that what makes us different is something we should revel in rather than hide out of view.