Hotly anticipated this year (no pun intended) is Disney's latest animated feature film, Frozen (opening today in Los Angeles; Wednesday November 27th in the rest of the United States). Long in development and delayed multiple times, it is finally seeing the light of day as a 3-D CGI extravaganza that has become the standard for Disney's theatrical releases.
This contemporary tale uses Hans Christian Andersen's, The Snow Queen, as its inspiration but takes some liberties with that story, and instead sets off in new directions. Centering on royal sisters Elsa and Anna, Frozen focuses on their relationship and the strain a childhood accident and subsequent cover up has placed on it.
Fast forwarding many years, the problems that have been festering can no longer be contained. A fateful coronation proves to be the breaking point and thus begins a race against time to save not only the sister's land of Arendelle, but also themselves. As overly cliché as all that sounds, the reality is quite different and regrettably can't be explained without spoiling the film. Rest assured, the filmmakers have put a twist on the usual princess tale that is most welcome.
Frozen is a complex film in more ways than one. The animation is stunning, as if you would expect anything less from Disney. Snow is beautifully animated, characters move about with just the right mixture of grace and liveliness, and the beauty of snowy Scandinavia is present in every outdoor shot. A hint of cartoony exuberance is present however, but never overwhelming. In any case, both Sven and Olaf readily provide the necessary comedic relief throughout.
While Frozen is a princess film, it attempts to go in a different direction than say, Tangled; a film in the far more traditional vein. With sisters as co-lead protagonists, things revolve around them in a different manner than they would a single character. They are, in a sense, the yin and yang of the film, and it it is only when they fall out are things destabilised within their universe.
As brilliant an animated film as Frozen is, the problems that a long gestation period can produce are evident. The plot comes off as rough-hewn; the result of a script that is adequate but not exemplary, and characters with little sense of purpose other than to fill specific roles. The inspiring songs are unfortunately too numerous and often misplaced. The dialogue is also remarkably flat for a film containing such weighty themes as love, bravery, tenacity, scorn and sorrow; all staples and trademarks of Disney storytelling it should be noted.
Overall, Frozen will commendably fulfill its role in the roster of legendary Disney animated features. If the consistent on-the-nose gags don't keep you enthralled, the stunning animation will.
Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.