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'Frozen' reminds us that Disney is more than just Pixar's owner

Disney's latest animation spectacular is a very, very loose of adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen."

There's apparently a monster named Marshmallow in "Frozen." Credit: Disney There's apparently a monster named Marshmallow in "Frozen."
Credit: Disney

'Frozen'
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Voices of: Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff
Rating: PG
3 (out of 5) Globes

Once again out to let audiences know they can still weave together a full-length animated feature like it's nothing, Disney goes to its tried-and-true formula of crafting a princess-heavy, musical fairytale adaptation with “Frozen.”

The movie mostly centers on Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), the neurotic little sis of Elsa (Idina Menzel), the soon-to-be queen of Arendelle, their little kingdom. Elsa was born, for some reason, with cryokinetic powers. She can literally set off a winter wonderland with her hands, which is what she did late one night with Anna, accidentally incapacitating her when Elsa hit her with a jolt of frost to the head.

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Cut to years later. The chilly Elsa has kept Anna and her kingdom at arm's length, literally covering up her hands with gloves to avoid frostbiting people. But she unfortunately sets off a winter storm at her kingdom after a spat with Anna following Elsa’s coronation, which leads to Elsa fleeing Arendelle and making herself an ice castle in the mountains.

"Frozen" is a loosely based take on Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Snow Queen." Disney has been trying to bring the dark and frosty story to the screen since the '40s. What they’ve done is just make a cute little movie about a regal gal who can do amazing stuff with the cold.

The snow queen in "Frozen" takes a backseat to Anna, as she ventures out to locate her sister, so she can put an end to this wintry mess. It’s Anna who also deals with romantic conflict, as she finds herself torn between Kristoff ("Spring Awakening" star Jonathan Groff), the studly, stubborn mountain man who aids her in her search, and Hans (Santino Fontana), the prince fiance she has back in Arendelle.

As with nearly all the princess-driven Disney cartoons, "Frozen" is a frilly song-and-dance show fueled by girl power. Animator Chris Buck ("Tarzan") and screenwriter Jennifer Lee ("Wreck-It Ralph") tag-team on the directing duties, churning out powdery visuals and finely drawn characters, while husband-and-wife songwriting team Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez piles on the for-your-consideration tunes. It’s a likely possibility that the soundtrack will be blasting from your minivan whenever your 11-year-old daughter is in the car.

However, as much as "Frozen" lays on the charm, the story itself seems rushed and hardly fleshed out. A lovable, talking snowman (Josh Gad) is brought into the film because — well, just because. And as for Anna having to choose between her two suitors, a flimsy-yet-oh-so-convenient plot twist makes that decision extremely easy for her.

Nevertheless, "Frozen" is another holiday reminder that even though Disney is in bed with Pixar, that doesn’t mean Pixar does all the work while the Mouse Factory just lies there. They put time in, too.

 
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