‘Frozen’ Review

Published 10 months ago by , Updated October 17th, 2014 at 9:27 pm,

frozen movie review Frozen Review

Frozen is another fine addition to the Disney animated feature pantheon, offering a witty and heartfelt princess fairly tale with creative musical elements and some visual panache.

Disney’s Frozen - a 3D animated fairy tale musical inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” – takes place in the kingdom of Arendelle, where the young princess Elsa was born with the ability to magically create ice and snow using her bare hands. When Elsa slips up and nearly kills her sister Ana by accident, the panicked king and queen decide to isolate their daughters from the outside world and push Elsa to keep her emotions in check (out of fear that she will lose control and cause serious harm to others).

Several years later, following some tragic circumstances, grown-up Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Ana (Kristen Bell) no longer share the close bond that they once did. However, upon Elsa’s coronation day, people from all over flock to meet the new queen, which gives quirky Ana a chance to mingle with others – including the handsome  (and equally goofy) Prince Hans (Santino Fontana), whom Ana becomes immediately smitten with. Unfortunately, Elsa’s mounting emotions start to break free, as she terrifies the locals with her powers and inadvertently starts an eternal winter upon fleeing the kingdom. Thus, it’s up to Ana and the unconventional mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to find Elsa and restore order to the land.

Walt Disney Animation Studios – a version of Walt Disney Feature Animation that was renamed and restructured by John Lasseter in 2006 – has been on a critical hot streak of late, with both its traditionally-animated offerings (The Princess and the Frog, Winnie the Pooh) and 3D computer-animated features (Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph). That winning record stays alive with Frozen, a captivating and heartstring-tugging animated musical that – similar to Princess and the Frog and Tangled – updates the well-established Disney princess fairy tale formula, with a film that has relevant themes, delightful characters, catchy musical numbers and lovely digitally-animated visuals.

frozen disney ana hans 570x294 Frozen Review

Prince Hans and Ana in ‘Frozen’

Frozen is based on a screenplay by Jennifer Lee (co-writer on Wreck-It Ralph), who co-directed the film with fellow Disney vet, Chris Buck (Tarzan). As you probably gathered from the synopsis, Lee’s script touches on what are very much hot topics for storytellers nowadays – like the dangers of social alienation and the reality of what relationships are like – in a fairly sophisticated fashion that ought to please adult moviegoers, while also remaining accessible to the juice box crowd.

The only significant problem with the story (co-penned by Lee and Buck with relative newcomer Shane Morris) is that there are plot/character elements that feel too much like conscious attempts to “correct” the classic Disney princess fairy tale tropes; in particular, those which are now outdated (Tangled has the same problem). Occasionally, this ends up weakening the narrative enough so that it doesn’t have quite the poignance of Pixar’s best work to date (to use a fitting comparison).

frozen disney ana olaf kristoff sven 570x294 Frozen Review

Ana, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven

This is the first animated film to have Kristen Bell voicing the protagonist, but she is able to instill Ana with infectious energy, making the character’s quirks – like her tendency to wear her heart on her sleeve – all the more charming, rather than ingratiating. Similarly, Idina Menzel is pitch-perfect as ‘Snow Queen’ Elsa, managing to capture her emotional volatility (no pun intended), whether speaking or singing her heart out to the sky. As for the last of the film’s leads: Jonathan Groff does a nice job of playing up Kristoff’s oddball humor and commendable nature (note: anyone who’s ever owned a pet ought to get a kick out of the way that Kristoff communicates with his reindeer, Sven).

Noteworthy supporting characters include Olaf (Josh Gad), the enchanted snowman who makes for a pleasant comic relief, even in the moments when the film doesn’t seem to know what to do with him; Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weselton (it’s not pronounced like “weasel”), a dubious but amusing old fuddy-duddy; Santino Fontana as Hans, a wide-eyed prince who carries himself in an admirable fashion; and Ciarán Hinds as Pabbie, the elder leader of a group of rock-like trolls who are knowledgeable in the ways of magic (and the mysteries of the heart).

disney frozen kristoff sven 570x294 Frozen Review

Songwriting husband-wife duo Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Winnie the Pooh) developed the original lyrics and music for Frozen, which often take the form of lightweight melodies that supplement the more brazen Norwegian music-inspired score by Christophe Beck (The Muppets). Admittedly, not all of the songs are winners (the trolls’ ensemble number “Fixer Upper” is a bit on the nose), but the majority of them are enchanting. And to be frank: you might want to check your pulse if Menzel’s rendition of “Let It Go” – the film’s show-stopping number – doesn’t stir your emotions at all (there’s an obvious pun there but, moving on…).

The animation style in Frozen is the same Rococo-inspired hand-drawn/CGI hybrid technique used on Tangled (there’s even a shoutout to the famous Rococo painting, “The Swing”). It compliments the fantastical and cartoony nature of the setting, making the scenery a lovely collage of sharp colors (bright in the summer, cool in the winter) and the human/animal characters quite expressive and feel alive. Overall, Frozen isn’t necessarily Disney’s most accomplished piece of animation (certainly not its most innovative), but there are some arresting images and sequences offered here (see: when Elsa constructs her ice palace in the mountains) that justify the higher price of admission for a 3D screening. (That said: 3D is not a necessity.)

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The ‘Snow Queen’ Elsa

Overall, Frozen is another fine addition to the Disney animated feature pantheon, offering a witty and heartfelt princess fairly tale with creative musical elements and some visual panache.

For additional incentive: there’s a clever short film included at the beginning – a Mickey Mouse cartoon titled “Get a Horse!” – that meshes 2D/3D animation, even as it pokes fun at the occasionally ribald nature of Disney ‘toons from the early 20th century (no worries parents, kids won’t notice). And be sure not to leave the theater before the credits stop rolling, since there’s a funny disclaimer – followed by an amusing short clip – at the very end.

In case you’re still undecided, here is the trailer for Frozen:

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Frozen is now playing in 2D and 3D theaters. It is 108 minutes long and Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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31 Comments

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  1. *fine addition (under Snow Queen photo at end)

    Great review though Sandy, I’ll have to check it out with my kids!

    • Fixed.

      Thanks for the catch!

  2. I kinda wanna see this, but i hated tangled, which it seems liken to.
    Probably will wait for dvd.

    • Regardless of your opinion of Tangled, this is completely different. I mean, yes, the characters and animation do feel similar, but the story is completely unique. So much better than Tangled, actually. You wouldn’t regret going to see this up on the big screens, trust me.

      • I loved Tangled and i will defenitely see this one.

    • I saw this over the weekend with my kids and everyone really liked it. This is nothing like Tangled and very good for all ages.

  3. So are saying if the Snow Queen’s song does move us, our hearts are as…cold as ice?

  4. hmm I’ll have to check this out. was doubting about it after seeing Brave and Wreck it Ralph which I thought was crap

  5. Looks real good, though brave was awful and and tangled was awesome so hopefully this is good

    • Brave was… Pixar’s XD (and Tangled was Disney’s Animation Studio’s)

  6. So on a side note, I love the mobile version but it doesn’t show your star rating. I have to switch to desktop mode to find that out. Unless I’m missing something.

  7. My fiancé is BIG into Broadway. We recently drove from Ohio to New York just for that. So obviously a movie with Idina Menzel AND Santino Fontana (who we saw in “Cinderella”) is going to be on our date night list of things to do.

  8. I saw it last night and thought it was really good.

  9. They aren’t kidding when they say that this is the best thing since Lion King. At least on Disney animation standards. Seriously, Let it Go is by far one of Disney’s best and the story in it’s entirety is great. Oh, and Olaf is actually an awesome sidekick character, not the grating pandering-to-the-kids character that the trailers make him out to be. Actually, the trailers don’t do this movie justice by any means. I could go on and on about this amazing film, but then again, I have a hard time even finding the right words to describe it. Definitely recommend going to see this Disney classic.

    • I thought the same, but the trailers also sold out the kids so much hahaha, so I guess it was intended for their demographic :)

  10. I think it’s safe to say, whether it’s awesome or just simply great or good, a Disney’s Princess/Animated movies is going to be a hit. My cousins are already itching to see this, and it won’t open until late December in my country. Perhaps because this country likes to relate anything Snowy with Christmas *sigh*

  11. I hate musicals.

    • A day without music is like a day without sunshine…Are you a vampire?

  12. My family enjoyed “Tangled,” we will undoubtedly enjoy this as well….

  13. It’s for the kids guys. Lets all act like adults here. I can tolerate this movie as long as it’s not over 3 hours long.

  14. Just saw it, and it was fantastic! The animation was gorgeous, the characters relatable and the music. was. amazing! Idina Menzel blew everything she did out of the water and Kristen Bell was great as well. Let It Go was jaw dropping and I also love Lt’s Build A Snowman. It truly was like watching an animated Broadway musical. I loved Tangled, but I would have to say this movie is an improvement.

    • *Let’s (edit button Screen Rant!)

  15. Really enjoyed Tangled so I look forward to seeing this. Walt Disney studio is on a roll with Tangled, Wreck it Ralph and now this!

  16. I loved it. But people have got to stop saying it was based on ‘The Snow Queen’, because it has absolutely ZERO relation to the story.

  17. Good review,I kinda wanna see this.Thank you.I want more excellent films.

  18. I personally loved the movie. It had beautiful animation, great songs and awesome plot.
    I could really connect with each character. The movie had laughs giggles and smiles from almost everyone! My family certainly enjoyed the movie since we cant stop talking about it. I would tell anyone about this amazing film ad to go and own it for yourself!!

  19. that let it go song was amazing

  20. Frozen
    I love this movie, Frozen is my favorite. The central chracter is very witty and amusing. The story is full of twists and I couldn’t stop watching. The storyline is fantastic and has a moral lesson in the end.

  21. Not trying to be sarcastic, but if you are gonzo on board with Political Correctness, this film’s for you. There’s a ton of PCs. The hero-guy can’t even hit the villain–the female lead does.

    It is refreshing that unlike other Disney animations this one underlines the ridiculousness of the female lead knowing that the guy she just is THE guy she had waited for.

    Must say it is a few levels above an “okay movie.” Too many holes for me to consider it great. Most musical animations have the songs support the story. As one critic says, this is the first time she had seen a movie built around (and needed drastically) three songs: LOVE IS AN OPEN DOOR, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOREVER, & LET IT GO.

    It is not as nearly thought out as the last two Toy Story’s. When I see that its Box Office take is near to any of those two Hanks-Allen classics I scratch my head.

  22. I love Disney films. 15 minutes of this rubbish was as much as i could stomach. Boring, unfunny and utterly pointless.

  23. Best Disney film in the last 20 years, if not the best ever. The music, the storyline, the visuals and the fact that this movie is an emotional roller coaster- amazing.