Review: Frozen is magical winter fun

Anna and Elsa via YouTube

Anna and Elsa via YouTube

Is a second Disney renaissance on the cards? After Brave and Tangled, and now the wonderful Frozen, it seems highly probable.

Loosely based on the gorgeous Hans Christian Andersen tale ‘The Snow Queen’, Frozen follows two royal sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), in a Scandinavian-type kingdom. As children, they are close playmates and Elsa’s ability to conjure snow and ice from her fingertips delights her younger sibling. However, when Anna is accidentally hurt by Elsa’s powers, their parents decide to keep their older daughter in confinement. Highlighting, yet again, the incompetence of fairy-tale parents, the sisters have a lonely childhood. For the first time in a Disney film, we see how isolating being raised as royalty must be. The vast castle, endless halls and old paintings that Anna counts as friends are wonderfully rendered.

The king and queen are lost at sea, and Elsa becomes queen. For the first time in years, the kingdom of Arendelle opens its gates and the world comes in. Anna falls in love with a handsome prince called Hans and agrees to marry him instantly, pending Elsa’s blessing. Elsa says no, the sisters row, and the gloves she has been wearing to prevent her powers being unleashed slip off. Before you can say ‘Jack Frost’ Elsa has retreated to the far north, Anna in pursuit, while all around the realm is plunged into the kind of winter which makes the Big Freeze of 2010 seem like a mild autumn chill.

Anna is sure that if she can reason with her sister, she will end the permafrost. But free for the first time in her life, will Elsa listen?

Frozen is a marvellous musical (Idina Menzel’s perfomance of ‘Let It Go’ is sure to appeal to Wicked fans) with some huge belly laughs. Most of these come from Kristoff, a passing ice-picker, his trusty reindeer Sven, and the living snowman Olaf (who thinks winter is great and all, but he can’t wait til summer). There’s also the simply hilarious scene at Wandering Oaken’s  Trading Post and Sauna, as well as the Duke of Wesselton (Weaseltown) who busts some serious dance moves at Elsa’s coronation.

Not only does it have laughs, it has plenty of heart. It’s quite an unconventional narrative, with a least one major twist I didn’t see coming. Anna and Elsa are simply charming characters, with plenty of depth. The pace never flags, even though the running time is quite long for an animation.

While Disney gets a lot of stick for having its princesses fall unrealistically in love with handsome princes, recent tales have subverted this. Tangled’s Rapunzel fell for a commoner (and a conman!) as did Jasmine in Aladdin. Pocahontas bade her man farewell, while Brave’s Merida refused to marry at all. While romance is an element in Frozen, the focus is far more on the sister relationship, which is a huge strength. Even if you don’t have a sister, you’ll wish you had, just so you could go out and hug her. Frozen is definitely worthy of being included with the likes of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid as classic Disney.

There’s also a short, Get A Horse, starring Mickey Mouse and friends, showing before the main feature. Cleverly combining 3D technology and the animation of the 1920s, it’s a wonderful tribute to the studio’s beginnings.

 

Is a second Disney renaissance on the cards? After Brave and Tangled, and now the wonderful Frozen, it seems highly probable.

Loosely based on the gorgeous Hans Christian Andersen tale ‘The Snow Queen’, Frozen follows two royal sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), in a Scandinavian-type kingdom. As children, they are close playmates and Elsa’s ability to conjure snow and ice from her fingertips delights her younger sibling. However, when Anna is accidentally hurt by Elsa’s powers, their parents decide to keep their older daughter in confinement. Highlighting, yet again, the incompetence of fairy-tale parents, the sisters have a lonely childhood. For the first time in a Disney film, we see how isolating being raised as royalty must be. The vast castle, endless halls and old paintings that Anna counts as friends are wonderfully rendered.

The king and queen are lost at sea, and Elsa becomes queen. For…

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