Accepting responsibility for the gaff is Alec R. Lee
Welcome (and sorry!) to Movie Snobbery’s first Delayed Review. This is where I review a film that has been out in theaters for a while, but there is still enough reason to get people who haven’t seen it to be interested. This mostly stems from the start of the awards season when films are being considered for the Oscars, and the film being presented today will definitely get nominated for a few. The reason why I didn’t review this in theaters is because….to be honest, this isn’t the sort of film that a man in his 20s goes and sees alone. I had no chances to see this film when it was released due to my busy schedule and the fact that there were more interesting films to review at the time. Now, through other means (shhh!) I’ve managed to see this film and dish out an unbiased look at Disney’s next whimsical sell ou- film! I meant film!
So Frozen is the latest Disney Princess film the studio has pushed out behind Tangled (53rd animated feature). The plot is a loose adaptation of Hans Christen Andersen’s The Snow Queen and it is centered around two Scandinavian princesses. One of the sisters, Elsa, has the ability to create snow and ice out of nowhere (how this came to be is never explained) and uses this power to create winter playgrounds for her and her younger sister, Anna (pronounced ah-na,). Unfortunately, Elsa accidentally hits Anna with her powers while playing one day, and her parents take Anna to the trolls where they wipe her memory of Elsa’s power. The castle is sealed to protect the townsfolk and Elsa becomes distant from Anna to protect her as well. Years later, during Elsa’s coronation, she and Anna get into an argument which results in Elsa exposing her powers to the village. Fearful of hurting others, she flees towards the nearby mountains, unknowingly creating a storm that causes the whole area to be covered in snow. Anna then embarks on a journey to bring back her sister, enlisted the aid of a young mountain man named Kristoff and an anthropomorphic snowman named Olaf.
Disney really outdid themselves with the casting on this one. I really like it when the voice actors of the characters can also double as the singing voices (no awkward voice doubles here). Kristen Bell plays Anna and does a great job with her character by making it memorable, confident, and adaptable to her environment (and great singing voice, too). Jonathan Goff voices Kristoff and I have to say, I really like this character. He is sarcastic, witty, and he actually embodies several traits of Flynn Rider from Tangled. Anna’s and Kristoff’s interactions with each other (and occasional verbal sparing) are some of the highlights of the film and they are done rather realistically. I mean that they develop normally and are responsive to one another. Take a wild guess where they’re going to end up. The most brilliant casting in the film has to be Idina Menzel as Elsa, hands down. The veteran Broadway actress really sells Elsa’s emotional turmoil at her predicament, the curse of her powers. And she has the chops to do some serious singing in the musical numbers. I mean…Idina Menzel…..that’s actually inspired. Rounding out the already exceptional cast is Josh Gad, well known for his portrayal as Elder Cunningham in Book of Mormon, which means that he too can carry a tune as Olaf the snowman. It was hard to determine how Olaf would be treated as a side character and I’m sure fans were worried that he would be a Jar Jar Binks type side character. Nope. Olaf gets some seriously funny and heartfelt lines, and the physical humor regarding the consistency of his body is sure to make even R. Lee Ermey smile. It helps with Gad’s earnest portrayal of the character and I cannot think of anyone else that could have done a better job. Finally, the reliable Ciaran Hinds and Alan Tudyk play their parts solidly and in the latter’s case, funnily as well.
Now here comes the hard part: the music. Is this music worthy of a Disney film? Yes and no. Song writing duties have been turned over this time from Alan Menken, to the husband-wife team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Robert Lopez’s Broadway work is impressive, having worked on Avenue Q and Book of Mormon, so he does have good credentials. Both Lopez’s (Lopezs’? Lopezezes? Lopi?) wrote songs for the 2011 reintroduction of Winnie the Pooh, so they also are familiar with Disney’s modus operandi. And for the most part, they do a good job. You have the songs that fizzle, of course (“Love is an Open Door,” “Reindeer(s) are Better Than People”), there are songs that are quite catchy and well done (“In Summer,” “Fixer-Upper”) and there are the ballads that are sure to be highlights come the Oscars (“For the First Time in Forever,” “Let it Go”) and will undeniably get overplayed in the Disney theme parks, ruining them for all the employees. Out of all the songs, “Let it Go” is my absolute favorite. It features great animation bolstered by Idina Menzel’s tremendous voice. A few million other viewers on YouTube show that I’m in the majority on this one. I do have to comment that the Lopez’s (Lopeze- oh, god dammit!) lyrics are a little hammy and rather blunt at times. It’s kind of like they’re still in the mindset that they’re composing for a Broadway musical rather than an animated movie. (I doubt that kids will know what the word “fractal” means when used in a song…) The score is handled by Christophe Beck, who was most likely chosen for his work on the animated short Paperman. Beck has a reputation for doing solid work with scoring, but he made a huge crucial mistake this time. Most Disney features have their soundtrack recite passages from the musical numbers in the underscore (this most notably stems from Alan Menken’s involvement as both songwriter and score composer). Beck does not attempt to connect the songs with the score in Frozen, resulting in a disconnect and restricts his score to the “missed opportunity” bin.
From a casual purveyor of Disney features, this was a solidly told film. The voice acting was phenomenal, the songs were, for the most part, pretty good, and the story had no major problems. It is easy to predict how the story will end, but there were times when I was just caught off guard at how events turned out (prepare for the climax to be emotional). And there was one part near the end that had me jumping up and going “Yeah!” (It was a good part, you’ll know when you see it). So for a film that had all of these good elements and a story that had me emotionally invested in it, I would highly recommend this film to any person who wants to see a film worthy of the Disney Renaissance.
Going off topic: why the hell is Princess Kida not considered a Disney Princess? Is it racism against Atlantians?
Final Score: 90/100