Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Movie Review: "Frozen"

Disney's animation department has really been struggling over the past decade trying to figure out their place in the midst of in-house rival Pixar, and other studios like Dreamworks Animation.  They've been trying to make all of their films a little bit more hip and cool, and less old-fashioned.  Now, with Frozen, even thought it's a return to the fairy tale musicals of the past, it's still a little too modern in its sensibilities for it to ever feel like a classic Disney animation.

The film is a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Snow Queen.  In the film there are two princesses, Elsa and her little sister, Anna.  Elsa has always had the ability to create ice and snow, with no way to really control it.  When Elsa is crowned queen, she accidentally reveals her powers at the coronation ceremony and freezes the entire kingdom.  With Elsa fleeing into the wilderness, Anna must go after her sister to try and thaw the kingdom and help her sister control her abilities.  Of course, along the way Anna meets up with a colorful cast of characters, most notably a talking snowman named Olaf who dreams of Summer, and who also gets the biggest laughs of the entire film.

Truthfully, there are many things to love about Frozen, I mean the characters are all immediately likable, and I appreciate Disney's attempts at upending all of the traditional tropes that they've harbored in the past to be more feministic, but at a certain point I want that old Disney comfort food.  Personally, I miss the simplicity of many of Disney's old animated classics.  There was nothing ironic about them, they were not trying to be politically correct, they just were faithfully told fairy tales that made you believe in magic and in the good that the world can offer if we just look for it.  Then there is the CG animation, which is very well done, but it lacks the warmth and personality that comes from hand-drawn animation of yore, which I feel would have given the film more life.  As well, Frozen often suffers from its attempts to go against the grain.  There is not a very strong central conflict to this film, because there is no real villain till about the final twenty minutes, and so the film often feels like its languishing with no urgency, especially in the middle portions.  Of course, that's not to say that Frozen is not a good time.

The songs of Frozen are the best songs written for a Disney film since the Nineties, with many of the tunes, like "For the First Time in Forever" and "Let It Go," assured to be Disney classics, but the film itself falls just shy of that mark.  This film does no harm, and it is quite entertaining, but it's one of those movies that a year from now I will be hard pressed to remember.  It's definitely worth seeing if you're a fan of Disney animation, but just enough of the classic elements are missing to keep this from being another Disney classic.

I give Frozen a B!

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