November 28, 2013 by bck1402
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
This is just about the most entertaining and enjoyable movie I’ve seen all year. It’s not overly complex, the characters are quite well defined and yet, not simple caricatures, and the animation is gorgeous. So let’s get into some specifics here.
The animation design is fairly similar to that of Tangled, the previous fairy tale adaptation that sparked off this new era of Disney Animation (or should that be Bolt?), which would make these two movies be more or less part of the same world. Unlike with Tangled, where the songs were incidental to the story, Frozen is a full-blown musical with the songs integrated into the story itself. A couple may seem like incidental songs, but removing them would diminish the narrative here. While Kristen Bell (as Anna) does well enough in belting out her songs with verve, proving she’s no slouch, she and the others, are outclassed by Idina Menzel (who plays Elsa), who gets the solo showstopper.
While the character designs are similar, the overall design aesthetic of the world is vastly different with the frozen world on display. The snow and the weather itself is a major character in the film. Whether it’s clumped on the ground, drifting in the air or swirling in a flurry (and so much more), not to mention the various display of ice sculpting and animation, you can’t ignore it as it permeates throughout. Especially since Elsa is able to control it, a key factor in the story. There are layers at play especially given the singular basic chromatic choice in use. Most of the movie takes place at night too, which might hamper the 3D effect in some screenings (my screening was a tad dark).
There are some interesting aspects to this feature in that it’s probably the first (to my memory) where we have two princesses central to the story, and there is no actual or obvious villain, just individuals with self-serving intentions. The relationship between the sisters is the driving force for the plot, and it works really well. These are two strong individuals who really don’t need any princes to rescue them. It does make for quite a refreshing change from your typical Disney Princess fairy tale. There is the typical animal sidekick, coming in the form of a huge reindeer (not unlike Maximus from Tangled) but interestingly, there is a fantasy character in Olaf the Snowman (Josh Gad), who also gets his own, rather hilarious wish-fulfilment song, “In Summer,” as well as another giant snow-creature. On the bright side, Olaf doesn’t grate the way these typical ’comic relief sidekicks’ often do.
The songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are truly brilliant running the gamut of emotions. Not too sure if they are of the sing-along nature, but they are some power-ballad material there (again, the show-stopping piece for Elsa, “Let It Go” also performed by Demi Lovato over the end credits, although I daresay that Menzel’s rendition is better). Accompanying all that is the score by Christophe Beck.
Update (Dec 18, 2013): Disney Animation released the video clip that features Idina Menzel’s version of “Let It Go”
As to the 3D effect, the use of 3D is quite effective especially with the numerous particles floating about in the air. There’s also the sense of scale in play, particularly with the ice castle and its construction, not to mention the use of the ultra wide cinematic screen. What is truly remarkable is the subtle use of it even where Olaf’s carrot nose almost seems to protrude from the screen just that little bit. Also, the use of 3D in the opening short, the Mickey Mouse cartoon “Get A Horse” is truly astounding, which makes shelling out for a 3D screening all the more worthwhile.
In all, this is Disney Animation at its best where storytelling, characters and songs, not to mention the animation itself, are concerned. Given how the TV series, Once Upon A Time, has co-opted most of the fairy tale characters and play with the nature of magic, there is an interesting use of words here that call back to how magic is used – no that it’s actually used that much within the feature. The nature of Elsa’s powers (see they trailer) is debatable, but ultimately inconsequential. It doesn’t matter where her powers come from, magical or not. What matters is the story itself and how it is delivered. And in that, there’s the magic of Disney.
For more reviews, click through from the Reviews Link page.