Sunday, December 8, 2013
In Frozen, Princess Elsa of the kingdom of Arendelle has magical powers over ice and snow. As a child, Elsa uses her powers to thrill and entertain her precocious younger sister Anna; creating falling snow in the castle's ballroom so that the two can play and create a snowman who loves warm hugs. One day as the loving sisters play, Elsa accidentally zaps Anna with her power. With the help of magical trolls, the King and Queen save their young child and also erase her memories of her sister's gift. The trolls warn them of the dire consquences which could come to pass if Anna's heart is accidentally frozen next time. Fearful of Elsa's lack of control over her growing powers, which actually become heightened when Elsa is frightened, the King and Queen try to maintain the secret of her powers and also protect everyone by shutting the castle off from the rest of the kingdom; while Elsa horrified by the injury she caused her beloved baby sister, isolates herself in her room causing a rift which grows over the years between her and Anna.
Years go by and the girls grow into young women. Tragedy strikes when during a brief voyage the King and Queen perish at sea and Elsa and Anna are orphaned. Three years after the tragic loss, the castle doors are once again opened to its citizens when the day arrives for Elsa's summer coronation. As soon as the castle doors are open, like a puppy let off her leash, young Anna glories in her new found freedom and promptly falls in love with a newly met prince; while at the castle, reserved Elsa is focused on just making it through the ceremony without revealing her gift (and curse). The coronation ceremony goes off without a hitch but when Anna inadvertently causes Elsa to reveal her powers to the kingdom's citizenry who turn away from her in fear, Elsa flees the castle and unknowingly plunges her kingdom into eternal winter, so plucky Anna decides to rescue the day by going after her sister. With the help of ice seller Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, as well as Olaf the snowman, Anna braves snow, ice and even a snow monster to save both the Kingdom and her sister.
Disney has flawlessly captured a beautiful winter wonderland in this film. Frozen features breathtaking animation, a compelling story of sisterly love with two endearing and vibrant young heroines, and a great soundtrack with catchy and memorable songs. Awe-inspiring shots of swirling snow, an ice encased fjord, and a crystalline ice castle which glitters and sparkles like a diamond as its spires reach towards the sky serve as the perfect winter backdrop for this seasonally appropriate tale. Oh and lest I forget, it features a hilarious scene-stealing snowman by the name of Olaf, that will just melt your heart. The film is a loosely based adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Snow Queen," and through its charm, humor and adventure it cements itself as a new Disney classic, worthy of being compared to earlier standouts such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, or Beauty and the Beast.
The fairy tale offers viewers the expected Disney princess character in the lead (actually two for the price of one), though not in typical form. In Anna you have an endearing young girl who might be sweet and wholesome like the norm, but whom is also spunky, quirky and a bit of a goofball, while Elsa is more closely tailored to the Disney princess mold - vulnerable, regal and surprisingly strong. Olaf's goofy and wholesome humor had kids and adults alike chuckling at his antics, while ooh and ahhing over his kindness and heart. Olaf's humor-filled sidekick role put me in mind of another Disney scene-stealer, Donkey from Shrek.
Like most Disney animated films, Frozen is a musical so each voice star had ample opportunity to shine (except for maybe Groff aka Kristoff who only sang a few lines of a too cute reindeer-related song). I expected nothing short of brilliance from Broadway talent Idina Menzel (and I got just that), but I had no idea Kristen Bell could sing that incredibly well. My two favorite songs from the film were Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" in which her soaring vocals are equal to her Tony-winning performance of "Defying Gravity" in Wicked, and surprisingly enough Josh Gad's Olaf performance of "In Summer." While his voice might not be on par with Menzel or Bell, the lyrics and delivery where just hilarious and priceless ("Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, But put me in summer and I’ll be a — (imagine deadpan glance at a puddle) happy snowman!").
Frozen is a new Disney classic that will warm even the coldest heart. Grab your coat, hat and mittens and head on over to your nearest theater for this not to be missed gem.