by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
When was the last time you saw an animated film that took you back to the 90’s when the songs were catchy, the characters were memorable and the story was unforgettable? It’s been some time (there aren’t a whole lot of animated films with good songs anymore). You have to go back to the late 90’s with Tarzan and Mulan, but to be honest, the last epic animated film meeting all of the criteria perfectly was The Lion King. Maybe it’s due to the combination of Disney and Pixar. Well, ladies and gentlemen, prepare for an icy reception (in a good way) with the latest animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios (no Pixar attached to this one!) that brings animated stories back to the days when they were nominated for Oscars with their animated feature, Frozen.
In the kingdom of Arrendelle, a young Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) and her slightly older sister, Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel), only have each other to play with. Elsa was born with a power to control snow and ice, making play more fun. But after an accident sustained to Anna, Elsa refuses to play with, or even see, her sister for fear of hurting her again. After their parent’s deaths, the girls have only one another, but spend their time apart in a large castle home.
Fast forward and Princess Elsa’s coronation day comes around when she is crowned king. Still unable to fully control her powers, she fears being seen by people, while Anna longs for company and conversation. After an unexpected event where Elsa brings eternal winter to the kingdom, Elsa decides to leave, running to the mountains to live in a palace built of ice. It will be up to Anna, ice trader Kristoff (Jonathon Groff), a real life snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff’s reindeer, Sven, to convince Elsa to come back, help her control her powers and bring Summer back to the kingdom.
Frozen represents a return to the style of film that garnered Oscar nominations for their animated films in the past: the musical. While the songs may not be as strong or memorable as those found in The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, the formula is there all the same. It brings back the nostalgic feeling many had while watching the great Disney films of old. And Frozen doesn’t merely give you a song or two, it embraces the reality of what it is, providing eight numbers for your listening pleasures, with the actors performing all of the songs.
One of the most interesting things about Frozen is the fact that there’s no true villain. No Scar, no Ursula, no Hook to pair against our heroines. There is a “bad guy”, but he is more of a second tier character, in the form of a Gaston, who is there to provide an antagonist, but the true conflict is between Elsa and her inability to control what she was born with which affects her relationship with her sister. And while the romance element is alive (there is even the mention of true love’s kiss), this film is really about the relationship between Anna and Elsa and finding each other once again… after all, they really only have each other.
And, like with all good Disney films, there is a memorable side kick. Sidekicks are never human, and are there to assist the protagonist throughout the film, often providing relief but always, at one point or another, giving the protagonist a life altering lesson and something for the audience to think about as they reflect on the film after. Frozen has the snow man, Olaf. He was created by the girls often when they were young, but brought to life once Elsa loses control of her power. Josh Gad provides Olaf with moments of absolute hilarity and other moments of reflection. The other sidekick is Sven, the reindeer. And while Sven doesn’t have any lines (reindeers don’t talk, don’t be silly), what he provides through body language and interaction with Kristoff is a form of dialogue in itself, providing moments of humor and others that will warm the heart.
It’s hard to find many flaws with Frozen. Again, the songs may not be at the level of some of its predecessors from the past… there isn’t as much beautiful color like we had in The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. But we’re dealing with ice and snow, so that kind of comes with the territory. With how animated films are in today’s era, and the lack of the animated musical that comprised the 1990’s, some may not necessarily like this throwback for that reason specifically. But the story is top notch, the characters and emotional tone are palpable, and the music is wonderful and fits perfectly with the film. Frozen takes us back to a time when the animated film was a true joy to experience in theaters and has the power to melt the iciest of frozen hearts.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars