Frozen (2013) Review
Reviewed by Samuel Rahaman
It’s been clear for many years now that Disney has been trying desperately to recapture the success from their golden years. But with each new film release they never quite make it, with recent films such as The Princess and the Frog and Tangled falling short of becoming the next Disney classic. Whilst they’re fantastic in their own right, that special spark seems to be missing from them. However, with Frozen, it’s safe to say that this is the film we have all been waiting for. It’s funny, enjoyable, but most importantly it’s a touching and heartfelt return to form for the beloved studio.
Loosely based on the fairy-tale The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen tells the tale of two princesses, Anna (Kristen Bell) and her older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel); who was born with the power to wield snow and ice. After being separated from the outside world by their parents in the wake of a horrible accident, their relationship becomes strained; with Elsa locking herself away in her room to keep Anna and the kingdom safe from the powers she is struggling to keep under control. On the day of her coronation Elsa inadvertently plunges the kingdom into an eternal winter and goes into hiding. With the help of a rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his trusty reindeer Sven, and the humours snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna sets off on a quest to save the kingdom, and to mend the broken relationship with her sister before it’s too late.
What makes this film so refreshing and so utterly brilliant is the fact that the story is centred primarily on the love and relationship between two sisters, something that will resonate with audiences no matter how old or young, or whatever sex they may be. Whilst the film does contain some romance it does not rely on the stereotypical and clichéd fairy-tale tropes to drive the story (Like so many Disney films have done in the past), and instead screenwriter Jennifer Lee ingeniously subverts these well-known tropes (the ending is a brilliant example of this), and even pokes fun at them throughout the film, creating a story fit for the 21st century audience – and an excellent message to be giving to the younger generation too.
A highlight of the film is the phenomenal set vocal talents that are featured throughout; there isn’t a weak link amongst the cast. Menzell and Bell in particular deliver absolutely stunning performances as their respective characters; with Menzell portraying the fear, desperation and the vulnerability of Elsa beautifully, and Bell breaking away from the traditional “Disney Princess” and instead offering up a socially awkward and scrappy portrayal of a teenage girl wanting to find her place in the world, something that many younger girls will relate to very well. They both manage to draw you in so that you become so emotionally attached to their characters you end up rooting for them throughout the entire film. Josh Gad similarly shines as the “comic-butt” character, Olaf the snowman. The comedic timing Gad possesses is astounding, he provides the film with lot of its most humorous but also touching sequences and will almost certainly bring the house down (as he did in my screening).
The films score and musical performances are glorious, you can almost see the Broadway musical Frozen is destined to become – which isn’t surprising considering the songs were written and composed by Broadway duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (the masterminds behind Avenue Q); their compositions develop the story nicely and never feel out of place and what’s more is that they’re all uniquely entertaining. One particular highlight is the charming, yet emotional song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” sang by Anna as she tries to persuade Elsa to come out of her room and spend time with her like she used to. But the films showstopper, and one of the best musical numbers from Disney since Beauty and the Beast, is the magnificent “Let It Go” sang by Elsa as she finally embraces her powers and who she is; Menzel delivers a mesmerising and chilling performance of the song; it will surely win an Oscar next year.
The direction and CGI is equally as stunning, hats must go off to Chris Buck who directed the film. He perfectly encapsulated the film’s tone and atmosphere through the animation and his use of shots. You can see how much influence Pixar have had on this film from the snow-capped mountains and hill-side, which are incredibly beautiful, to Elsa’s wondrous ice palace (the scene in which it was created was just gorgeous), the animation never fails to impress.
Final Rating: 10/10
Overall the film can only be described as a triumph. Frozen is easily one of the best films this year and most certainly the best Disney film in a decade. Packed with an exhilarating, joyous story full of twist, turns and surprises, accompanied by a terrific voice cast and an enchanting musical score, Frozen sees Disney finally back on form with a film that will be watched and re-watched time and time again by people of all ages – it’s a new Disney classic.