Film Review: Frozen (2013)
Dubbed as Disney’s best animated feature in decades, Walt Disney Pictures’ musical-fantasy film, Frozen, has taken the world by snowstorm with its charismatic musical numbers and a poignant story about two princesses of Arendelle.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, the film tells the story of a fearless princess, Anna, who sets off on an epic journey alongside an adventurous mountain man, a loyal pet reindeer, and an unfortunate snowman to find Anna’s estranged sister, Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.
Written by Jennifer Lee, and directed by both Lee and Chris Buck, this is the first Disney animated film for a woman to direct/co-direct which is a quite an achievement in the animation industry. As expected from the producers of Tangled and Wreck It Ralph, the Walt Disney team has gone all out to produce a visually stunning film with spectacular art direction that will take your breath away. Enhanced by 3D and shot in widescreen cinematography, Frozen is a masterpiece of snow-capped landscapes, shimmering snowflakes of sharp transparency, and ice-crystal castles displaying perfect fractals.
Beyond the visual dimension, Frozen is no doubt one of Disney’s best musical animations. With the film’s orchestral soundtrack composed by Christophe Beck (Paperman) and musical songs penned by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Frozen reminds the audience of an epic musical (Les Miserables) mixed with a combination of Disney’s musical predecessors (Tarzan, The Lion King and Mulan).
In recent years, Disney has tried its hand at producing musical films that have the potential to become ‘classics’ — but it’s something that Disney hasn’t been able to succeed well. Disney’s Princess and the Frog had the perfect ‘classic’ Disney animation formula, but unfortunately, its underlying morals and songs about the working class of the 70s doesn’t resonate strongly with the audience. Disney’s previous musical attempt, Tangled, did incredibly well at the box office and while the film had catchy, beautifully-animated musical numbers, the songs don’t have a distinctive impact on its audience afterwards.
Frozen, on the other hand, is a refreshing breather from Disney’s recent attempts at musical films. Musically, Frozen is unquestionably at the top of the Disney leaderboard — although we personally don’t think it can ever overshadow Mulan or Lion King’s invincible soundtracks. The overall Frozen soundtrack is lyrically meaningful with catchy melodies, and the way how each music sequence is beautifully shot, it’s hard not to fall in love with hit songs like ‘Let It Go’, ‘For The First Time in Forever’ and ‘Do You Want To Build a Snowman?’
Behind these brilliant songs, Frozen features a stellar cast of experienced voice-actors including Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana. The chemistry between the leading ladies, Idina and Kirsten, is evidently electrifying as their voices are so harmoniously in sync. Kirsten Bell was definitely a pleasant surprise with her angelic voice which is perfect for Anna’s scrappy, bubbly character. When it comes to musicals, you can’t fault the powerfully talented Idina, and while her voice was certainly an interesting choice for Elsa, it can be a little rough for Elsa’s character at times.
Besides its attempt to create a classic Disney musical, Disney’s intentions of creating a powerful emotional story like Disney’s Tarzan and Mulan cannot go unnoticed. It has been awhile since we’ve seen Disney penning a film that has underlying dark tones that illustrate the innocence living in the harsh world of reality. Frozen‘s exploration of Elsa’s dark childhood and the impact it had on Anna’s life is commendably heartfelt, but as the story goes on, Frozen slowly unfolded itself as one of Disney’s weakest storytelling films.
The story of Frozen has come a long way from The Snow Queen, and Disney has done a decent job at recreating a story that would suit modern audiences. While the story is completely original, the formula of using a girl, a guy and an animal going on a road trip together is a replicate of what we have already seen in Tangled — let’s not get started on the similar character designs as well.
Personally, the story could have been better if it focused on Elsa’s childhood and how she overcomes her situation but Anna’s point of view was still enjoyable. For a plot that doesn’t have much action like Disney’s predecessors, the screenwriters spent a great deal of time dramatising the plot in a ploy to excite the audience with suspense as compensation.
But their approach to storytelling is rather cynical. With a story that is not-so succinct and lacks in character development, the characters ultimately felt bland, unfocused and oddly insincere. Unlike The Lion King and Tarzan, Frozen’s climax had the potential to be emotionally moving if they explored the characters’ state of mind more effectively. The characters’ questionable motives and actions were a major distraction, and with Disney rushing to ‘magically’ conclude the story with the concept of ‘love’, Frozen eventually became a spectacular mess in the end.
Overall: Frozen is one of Disney’s best produced films in recent years that have emotionally struck a chord with fans across the world. Combined with Tangled’s adventurous spirit and hints of classic Disney feels, Frozen has gone all out with its brilliant art direction and musical numbers in this Thanksgiving-Christmas movie. With a bit of drama and somberness, Frozen is a magical cinematic experience that will delight fans, and its worldwide success is a testament that Disney still has the power to capture people’s hearts.
Watch the trailer now!
Awesome review – and great use of pictures with it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Glad you ended up enjoying it! (I remember you expected it to be “dumb” :P) definitely agree with your review, although I will say that they could have cut a few songs from the film, some of them where just singing-talking!