Reviewed by Teri Youngman
The magic has definitely returned to the Magic Kingdom, with Walt Disney Pictures 53rd animated feature and mega hit Frozen. The epic story follows princess Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) as she tries to rescue her sister Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and her Kingdom from Elsa’s Icy powers that have trapped the kingdom in an endless winter.
Elsa has the power to create Ice and Snow and the ability to manipulate them in any way, shape or form that she wants to. An amazing power for sure, but its one that she’s struggled to control her whole life, and one she’s tried to contain ever since she inadvertently injured Anna with it when they were both young children. After the injury to Anna at the hands of Elsa, their parents encourage Elsa to remain isolated from her Anna and others in the kingdom in order to prevent more accidents from happening.
Their isolation continues as the girls grow up, and the two of them grow apart, even after their parents die at sea during a violent storm. Once Elsa comes of age she is set to have a coronation in front of the whole Kingdom. During the coronation Elsa and Anna have an argument and the emotions that stream from it cause Elsa to lose control of her powers and expose them to the entire frightened Kingdom. Elsa flees the Kingdom but unknowingly leaves it in an endless winter. Anna then sets out to find her sister and urge her to help end the winter storm of their Kingdom.
It’s during Anna’s journey to find Elsa, that the movie really takes off, introducing more characters, in addition to a couple of great songs. One of the songs, is the infectious “Let It Go,”which if you haven’t heard by now, means that you’re probably living under a rock, as its been played everywhere and even won the Academy Award for best song. The other stand out song is, “In Summer,” sung, by my favorite character in the movie, Olaf.
Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad) is the sister’s childhood snowman, who is brought to life by Elsa’s magic. He serves as great comic relief in the film, mostly due to the fact that he’s a living Snowman whose desire is to live in warm sunny weather. How awesome is that?
The main cast are all great here, from the two leads, to the side characters. I already mentioned Olaf the snowman, but they’re also joined by Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), who’s quick engagement to Anna is the catalyst for the argument between the sisters during the coronation, and Kristoff the mountain man (voiced by Jonathan Groff) who helps Anna search for Elsa.
One thing that I really enjoyed about this movie is that it follows the new trend of showcasing the women characters as strong and independent, something that animated films like Tangled and Brave have done in recent years. In the past the female characters would inevitably have to be rescued in their own movies by a male character, i.e. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, or Belle from Beauty and the Beast to name but a few. The women of Frozen are the focus here, taking center stage, and are only assisted by the male characters as opposed to being rescued by them.
I love this approach because in this day and age the long overdue realization that women are equal to men is has finally taken hold, and the young girls who watch these movies can aspire to be the hero and not just the princess waiting for their knights in shining armor. Occasionally, these CG animated films can seem to over do it by playing too much to the older crowds in inserting too many pop culture references, and too many winks to the adults (yes Shrek sequels I’m looking at you), but thankfully this film never falls into to that trap. In fact, just when the movie seems as if it may be getting a little too deep and dark for younger viewers, it saves itself by having insanely catchy musical numbers and lighten things up by throwing a great classic Disney film sidekick character, the aforementioned Olaf the Snowman.
This film is certainly one of Disney’s best animated features in years. Some have ranked it as an all time great that will live on forever, in the same company as one of the classic Disney films of the past, such as The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, though I’m not so sure about that. While I actually don’t think this movie is quite on par with some of the Pixar classics like the Toy Story series, Wall-E, Up, or Finding Nemo, that doesn’t take anything away from it, as it is a gem in its own right.
The film passes the big test, at least for me personally, and that’s the child attention test. When I went to see this film, my 4 year old son, and his cousins were all glued to the screen, fully into every second of this movie. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day that’s exactly what these kinds of movies are for. Frozen is a great family film, with a great cast of colorful characters, great music and thrilling sequences that will entertain parents and children alike, but never forgets that it’s for the children. I’m giving Frozen 4 bags of popcorn out of 5.
Teri Youngman is an actor and movie fanatic, whose love of South Seattle is second only to that of his lustful obsession with cinema.