Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Frozen Review (SPOILERS)

As a little gift for today, here's my review of Disney's newest animated film Frozen! Before you ask, I saw a 3D screening on Sunday at my cinema before the UK release on Friday which is why this review is out early! I would like to make a few points of the production of this movie because it is more complicated than you think! For those who don't know, Walt Disney had always planned to do an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen as far back as 1943 with Samuel Goldwyn. It initially started off as an animated segment in a biography about Hans' life alongside other stories like The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling. However they scrapped it because they had trouble adapting the story and Snow Queen character into film, alongside other movies in production like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Disney tried again during the Disney Renaissance but Glen Keane, who would direct the film, decided to quit the project. Tarzan director Chris Buck tried again in 2008 under the new title Anna and the Snow Queen, which was put on hold until 2011 with him co-directing with Wreck-It Ralph writer Jennifer Lee and under the new title Frozen! Now after 70 long years of development hell, will this movie be able to thaw even the most cynical of hearts, or is too concealed to even think about it? Let's find out! I'll try not to use any puns and if I do, they're unintentional, it's just that so hard not to make a pun about a movie which has lots of snow in it!

Story: Now, I know that the first thing people have complained since this movie was first announced is that it's completely different to the source material, which in this case is Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. I'd like to point of we're talking about A DISNEY ANIMATED MUSICAL! No matter how it's told, of course there are going to be differences up to the point it's unrecognisable! Look at The Little Mermaid and Tangled, I'm sure you read the original books before seeing them! I never judge movies based on books as adaptations or read them before seeing them, I judge on them based as movies and how they're told! So, after that little rant, I have to say that the story is superb! What is it? Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are sisters and of course, princesses of the kingdom Arendelle! Elsa, the older sister, has the power to control snow and ice, and ends up accidentally hitting Anna in the head as a child, which leads to Elsa losing all contact with her sister because she doesn't want to risk hurting her again. Elsa becomes queen of Arendelle and Anna uses the coronation to find true love and meets Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) who she gets engaged to despite knowing him for about 12 hours and Elsa disapproves (even Ariel would find that rushed) accidentally revealing her powers. She runs away, accidentally setting off an eternal winter in the process and becomes The Snow Queen, finally embracing her powers. Anna, feeling guilty decides to go after Elsa in the hopes of mending their relationship and bringing summer back to Arendelle, with the help of a grumpy ice harvester Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a funny snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).
The balance with the action, comedy, drama and romance is just perfect, with none overshadowing the other while focusing on the main theme: the sister relationship. There are loads of twists which I never saw coming, including Hans (SPOILERS) being the villain and only wanting to marry Anna to seize the throne! Also, it's finally a time when we have a Disney princess becoming a queen! Heck, she doesn't need to get married and doesn't have a love interest, that's rare! What I love most is the form of love that breaks Anna's frozen heart curse Elsa accidentally sets on her. (MAJOR SPOILERS) Instead of kissing Kristoff to break her curse, she sacrifices her life for her sister after she sees Hans about to kill her, therefore completing 'an act of true love'. I have to say, a very very smart move on the writers! When going into this, I never saw it coming at all! The motivation throughout is sister love, or rather platonic love rather than eros love like in past Disney films! The only issue I have which is a teeny tiny nitpick is I wanted to see more after the ending. But in a way, that's a good thing leaving people wanting more! The story is heartwarming, different yet not different (I know that sounds odd) and very well written! And, another reminder, THIS ISN'T TANGLED ON ICE!

Animation: There's no doubt that the animation in this is just fantastic! The character designs are more reminiscent of the old Disney, which I personally liked, with Elsa's design being my personal favourite. And for those who say Anna looks like Rapunzel, go and get your eyes checked! The backgrounds just look incredible, with the attention to detail being perfect on the architecture around Arendelle (which is inspired by Norway) like the castle itself and it's interiors, the village around the kingdom, the fjords and the chapel where Elsa is coronated. The mountains also help with giving out a massive scope to the movie, kind of like what The Lion King did with the African desert and Pride Rock. The skin of the people is more defined, especially when it comes to freckles, the clothes are detailed to the stitch, with the textures being perfect and the character animation is surprisingly creative on the non human characters like the trolls, Olaf and Sven. The best aspect is easily the effects on the ice and snow, especially during Let It Go when the ice palace is built, and pretty much any time Elsa used her powers, it literally made my jaw drop! The movie is also very very colourful, especially during Love Is An Open Door and  Fixer Upper with the aurora borealis helping with the uplifting mood. It's clear that since failures like Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons, Disney have finally mastered computer animation like they did with hand drawn! Dare I say, I think this animation is better than Tangled, and that's saying a lot because the animation on Tangled is beautiful!

Characters: Anna is the more eccentric sister who's a free spirit, dreams of finding romance, but is fearless and values her sister more than anything, even though she never wants to talk to her. Elsa, on the other hand is much more complex as she greatly loves her sister, but doesn't want to risk hurting her, even though she wants them to be close like when they were kids. I have to say, she's probably the best Disney character next to the Beast from Beauty and the Beast! Idina Menzel's voice acting is also amazing which really helps with her character and is really well developed! And for those who wonder, I love both of them the same! Kristoff is a deadpan and grumpy ice harvester who prefers to be alone except for his reindeer friend Sven, and their scenes are funny to watch. We get to see a really sweet side to him by the middle of the movie once we are introduced to his adoptive family of trolls, who give exposition and are kind of like how embarrassing parents act when you introduce your boyfriend/girlfriend to them for the first time. Hans (SPOILERS) is the villain who Anna falls in love with and gets engaged to, and looks after Arendelle while she's away on her quest. He's possibly one of the best Disney villains because not only is there never any indication from the start he'd be evil, but he really manages to manipulate Anna to get closer to killing Elsa and seizing Arendelle. It may be power, but it's kind of justified since he was ignored by his brothers and was 13th in line for his own throne. Finally, there's Olaf, a naive snowman who wants to experience summer despite being a snowman and I wanted to go over him last because there's been a ton of backlash against him since all the advertising was focused on him and made him out to be annoying. Yes, I hated the way they advertised him, but it shocked me that he was actually really funny. Every fibre of my being when going in just wanted me to hate him, but he had me laughing with everything he said (the 'he's craaazy' and 'I've been impaled' bits had me in stitches) He represents the happiness Anna and Elsa had when they were kids and is handled well. The only character who isn't as striking as the others is The Duke of Weselton. Alan Tudyk is good voicing him, but I felt like he was just a red herring to fool the audience into thinking he'll be the villain when it's really Hans.Overall, the characters are memorable, likeable, funny and endearing!

Songs: Before I go over the songs for Frozen, I want to quickly go over the songs for Disney's last fairytale film, Tangled! Let me explain! I didn't like the songs in Tangled because I felt the tunes were forgettable and the contemporary genre didn't reflect the movie itself. *insert angry comments*. As for the songs in Frozen, I loved them! They go back to the Broadway style and were composed by songwriting couple Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the same people who did the songs for Avenue Q and Book of Mormon. They heavily remind me of the Disney Renaissance, especially For The First Time In Forever (and the amazing reprise), Do You Want To Build a Snowman and Let It Go. Let It Go is obviously my favourite and Idina Menzel's voice just shines and the song is perfect for Elsa's character, being uplifting and sad at the same time, Actually, it reminded me of Defying Gravity from Wicked (I know Idina was the original Elphaba before you say anything)! Love Is An Open Door was surprisingly enjoyable for me with the catchy tune as well as the visuals being fun (try to figure out the hidden meaning for Hans' lyrics). In Summer and Fixer Upper are the funnest songs in the movie and sounded like they came straight out of a Broadway album. Reindeers Are Better than People made me laugh, but I felt like it stopped the film. Frozen Heart was also a really great opening number with the lyrics subtly foreshadowing the events of the movie. I want to quickly go over the score by Christophe Beck because it sounded beautiful, and I loved the Norwegian influence with the instruments, especially during Wipeout and Vuelie. The only problem I have is how they're arranged and the segways into them. Seriously, there are 5 songs in the first 30 minutes of the movie and the rest are spread out more. Still, they're amazing songs and how they're arranged can be easily ignored.

Frozen is a new Disney classic with a well written and heartwarming story, gorgeous animation from the best in the industry, memorable and funny characters and a songs you'll get stuck in your head! I recommend this for anybody: families, children, animation fans, Disney fans, Broadway fans, just go and see it while it's out! You won't regret it!  It's nice to see 2013 end with a bang after such a terrible year for animation, and it helps that 2014 looks much more promising. As for the short that preceded the movie Get A Horse, it's as good with amazing animation and a funny story paying tribute to the Mickey Mouse cartoons of the 20s and 30s. As for whether or not seeing the movie in 3D, it surprisingly enhanced the film and helped give out a giant scope, especially during the beginning with the snowflakes coming out of the screen! By the way, try to find Rapunzel and Flynn's cameo during For The First Time in Forever, just a little fun fact! For those who compare it to the films of the Disney Renaissance, I don't think it's as good as Beauty and the Beast, but I think it's more on par with The Little Mermaid and it's definitely the best animated musical movie to come out of Disney in the 21st century!
Story: 10/10
Animation: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Songs: 8/10
Overall: 9/10

1 comment:

  1. Kids will love it and the parents will probably enjoy themselves as well. As if their own kids being happy wasn't enough for a moment of pleasure. Good review Mica.