Disney’s Frozen is the next in line of their new approach to their classic fairy tale adaptions. With 2010’s “Tangled”, Disney showed that they can tell the classic stories with contemporary twists like making the female lead an empowered and strong character rather than the frail damsel in distress. So with Frozen, Disney very loosely based it on the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Snow Queen and added these new age alterations.
The story tells the tale of Elsa (Idina Menzel), princess of the Kingdom Arendelle, born with power to command ice and snow. One night while playing with her powers, she injures her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell). Their parents whisk them away to see the mystical Rock Troll elder who heals Anna and shows that Elsa must hide her power as they are becoming stronger and people will treat her like a monster. Upon returning home, Elsa locks herself away from the world and the castle is sealed so no one can leave or enter. The Troll Elder made it so that Anna does not remember Elsa’s power, so she can’t understand why her sister has become so reclusive. Years pass by and after their parents died out at sea travelling, Elsa has finally come of age and her coronation is nearing. The kingdom is flooded with visitors as this is the first time that castle Arendelle will have opened it’s gates in many years. After Anna meets the dashing Prince Hans (Santino Fontana), they fall in love that very same day and get engaged. When they ask for the newly crowned queens blessing, she promptly refuses on the grounds that it is ridiculous to marry someone you’ve only just met (something that had a lot of long time Disney fans quietly chuckling, as this trait is apparent in many classic Princesses and Disney were aware enough to poke fun at the fact) The sisters argue and in a state of anger, Elsa’s power slips. The crowds soon turn against her and she is forced to flee the kingdom, causing an eternal winter in her wake. With the aid of Kristoph the ice seller and woodsman (Jonathan Groff), his trusty dog like reindeer Sven and magical living snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna sets out to bring her sister home and end the winter brought on by the now wildly powerful queen.
Disney had impressed with their CGI animation in Tangled, almost matching their long time partners Pixar. But with Frozen, I honestly feel that they have finally shown that they can stand along side Pixar as CGI masters. From the flow of clothing and hair to realistic crumbling snow, Disney have shown that they can deliver a visual style that is not only wonderfully stylised in classic animated standards, but also so realistic that you can feel the chill from this winter wonderland. The voice acting is outstanding and every character has a standout personality, whether it be Anna’s social awkwardness and quirkiness, Elsa’s angst and independence, or Kristoff’s anthropomorphic relationship with his lifelong pal Sven. However, Josh Gad gives the real show stealing performance as the summer obsessed snowman Olaf. What could have been a bad gimmicky sidekick becomes an endearing, hilarious and heartwarming character who has easily cemented himself as a true classic addition to the Disney universe.
Each actor also sings their part too, which is always nice to hear as in the past many characters have had separate performers for singing and talking. Each number feels like it has come straight from Broadway and really would feel perfect on stage. The songs become infectious and I dare any one to see this film and not come out humming one. There are few that stand out; “Do you want to build a snowman” serves as Anna’s story of the passage of time from when Elsa first locks herself away to the day of coronation. “Love is an Open Door” is a cute love song between Anna and Hans and “In Summer” is the comedic pining of Olaf for summer time. The only real bum note comes from the frankly out of place song “Fixer Upper”, performed by the Rock Trolls seen at the start of the movie. I can’t help but this whole section could have been cut out as it just feels like filler and the song is jarring and causes the pace to judder. I would have liked Kristoff to get his own fully fleged song as he only really gets a little limerick so it feels a bit strange that this clearly pivotal character doesn’t get their moment. However, one song in particular stands out miles above the others. “Let It Go”, now an Oscar winning song, is easily the greatest Disney songs in a long time. The music is great and the pace constantly ups itself, but the real key to why this is so great is the vocals. Idina Menzel delivers soaring vocals bursting with emotion and passion. Her range is mind blowing and she just owns the whole thing.
The path to what Frozen is today was a tough one, with numerous changes and top to bottom rewrites, this could have been a total mess. But what Disney managed to deliver here is a beautiful story in a fully realised world that captivates and mesmerises anyone who watches it. There are a couple of unfortunate jarring moments that bring you out the immersion such as the rock troll song and a plot twist (no spoilers) that feels a bit sudden and too tacked on near the end of the movie. However, Frozen is near perfect, and proves that Disney still knows how to deliver a tale that can bridge the generations and pull on your heartstrings.