Rating: 5 / 5
Once upon a time, Disney proudly represented the gold standard of feature-length, family-friendly cartoons.
But while that distinction hasn’t been holding up in recent times (keeping up the charm for 90 years can be a trying feat), new animation film ‘Frozen’ should prove to be the proverbial kiss from Prince Charming to re-ignite Walt Disney’s magic.
This wintry spectacle feels like a return to Disney’s roots, reminiscent of the sweeping grandiosity, troubled romance, universal humour and winning musicality of their most celebrated fairytales – fused with contemporary attitudes, of course.
And as always, the magic comes from a fresh re-imagining of a classic Hans Christian Andersen yarn.
Loosely based on ‘The Snow Queen’, ‘Frozen’ tells the story of two sisters with contrasting dispositions. The elder princess, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), is blonde and pragmatic, while her redhead younger sibling, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), is fiery and free-spirited.
During a playful latenight escapade, Elsa’s magical powers – she can conjure up cold and snow – accidentally hurts Anna very badly, nearly killing her. Since then, Elsa has kept herself locked up in her room to keep her unstable powers away from the world.
Anna continually pleads outside the door for Elsa’s affection and company again, leading to a graceful musical number called “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”.
Over many years, the enforced estrangement tears the sisters apart but love still remains. So much so that when Anna decides to marry a prince, Elsa becomes enraged and has a ‘Carrie’-like meltdown, unleashing a terrifying, never-ending blizzard upon their summery kingdom.
Shunned as a monster, Elsa flees to the mountains, leaving Anna to reverse eternal winter and to help her sister with the support of a friendly ice merchant named Kristoff and his adorable moose.
In a magnificent film packed full of highlights that will keep you smiling throughout, Anna is clearly the heart of the film.
What's a Disney movie without a talking... snowman
NOT YOUR USUAL HELPLESS PRINCESS
Aided by Kristen Bell’s amazing voice work, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have crafted a brilliant character arc for Anna, one that is simultaneously resonant and turns a number of Disney princess tropes on its head.
The pain she feels from isolation and her sister’s rejection is piercing, but it is her independence, wit and bravery – think Veronica Mars meets Pocahontas – that immediately charms the audience.
Elsa is more the typical princess – pretty and trapped by circumstance – but that doesn’t make her self-sacrifice any less moving. It also helps that Idina Menzel is able to croon a power ballad with conviction.
‘Frozen’ deftly weaves together classic themes of love and heroism with music, humour, and modern sensibilities to create a story for the ages, and for all ages.
None of the traditional values feel antiquated and none of the contemporary affectations feel forced.
AMONG THE BEST
We dare say that 'Frozen' deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as animated film greats such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Lion King’, because it is quite honestly just as good.
Oh, and do go to your screening early, because a wonderful Mickey Mouse five-minute short film, ‘Get a Horse!’ comes on before the movie. The short is done in honour of Mickey’s 85th birthday.
The Lauren MacMullen piece combines the wacky slapstick fun of old-school black-and-white Mickey hijinks (featuring the voice of Walt Disney himself) with cutting-edge 3D trickery. Much like ‘Frozen’, it does a tremendous job of paying homage to Disney’s rich heritage while updating its identity in the process.
Formerly the Music Editor of JUICE Magazine, Hidzir Junaini is now a writing ronin by day and vampire slayer by night. Subsisting only on coffee and naivety, the 27-year-old scribe aspires to finally complete his long-gestating novel to lukewarm reviews some time in the near future. Until then, he can be found writing about film, music, nightlife and television with the misplaced confidence unique to most Mass Communications graduates.