Sunday, July 27, 2014

Frozen: Movie Review

A winter wonderland of magical mystique.

Disney has truly created a marvel of an animated children’s film. I’m not in the target audience (which explains why it has taken me so long to see the critically-lauded piece) and yet I loved it. Frozen takes all the standard Disney story pieces but then switches them all around to keep the story interesting and then layers it up with dazzling visuals and songs. 2013

Directed by: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

We have a princess, an evil queen, the handsome prince, an isolated castle and talking animal sidekicks. Except, scratch most of that. We have a princess and an isolated castle. Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) has been locked up in the castle since she was a child with no contact and very little memory of her sister. Her sister is the evil queen, but she’s not evil at all. She has special wintery powers which have caused her to be misunderstood, and consequently not understand herself. Instead of an evil queen, we have scheming dukes and princes. And it’s Anna who makes the trek to save her sister and save herself.

On Anna’s trek, she meets up with a lumberjack-type named Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), his reindeer sidekick named Sven, and Olaf, a snowman who loves warm hugs and the idea of summer. Sven does not talk, probably because reindeers can’t talk, and instead Groff’s Kristoff interprets what he’s thinking. Olaf does talk, but Josh Gad proves to be the best voice actor in the movie and provides Olaf with a level of innocence, naivety, honesty and true wonderment which makes him positively delightful and hilarious. Olaf is arguably the best sidekick in Disney history because he is not over-used and remains funny instead of annoying.

Frozen is also a musical and beautifully merges together songs of every genre which just increases its overall appeal. It opens with a working-man’s folk song to foreshadow the plot of the movie (“Frozen Heart”), then a melody with a dichotic mix of childhood innocence and heartbreaking loneliness (“Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”), then a pop love song that furthers the plot (“Love Is An Open Door”), and the Oscar-winning power ballad “Let It Go” that the furthers the character of Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel).

The main theme of the movie has to do with the fact that winter and ice can be both beautiful and dangerous, but thankfully, the beauty of it was played up the most. The movie used the full spectrum of colors to establish the various elements of the winter backdrop. Grays and dark blues are used when an ice storm or other dangers are brewing; whites and silvers when the concept of innocence is being explored (for example, the introduction of Olaf), shades of purple for both the royalty of the characters and for a sense of magical winter powers; and pinks and yellows are used for love, and more importantly, sisterly love.

The character themes make Frozen a great movie. As mentioned, Elsa is not evil, she’s a by-product of people not understanding unique qualities and she chooses to find and accept herself on her own. Anna is a mix of optimism, romanticism, idealism and a determined independence even though she is quickly shown that she needs companionship. Elsa just has to love herself to make the world a better place.

It’s the type of movie that needs to be seen by every young girl; Disney has never portrayed women as powerful, independent, resourceful, loving and complex as they are here. But don’t fear, because it’s also just a simply enjoyable movie. Children will experience every emotion from happiness, to love, to sadness, to fear and pure joy. There are tense moments, funny moments, moments of sentimentality and times where you’ll just have to sing along.
Best of 2013