Review – Frozen

Winter may be coming, but the Mouse House is on fire in this enchanting reworking of Hans Christian Anderson’s timeless fairy tale The Snow Queen.

Far from leaving me cold, Frozen once again proved that when Disney gets it right, no-one else comes close

Far from leaving me cold, Frozen once again proved that when Disney gets it right, no-one else comes close

Disney’s affiliation with Anderson’s work is a long one; from its Silly Symphony short of The Ugly Duckling in the 1930s through to its hugely successful version of The Little Mermaid in 1989, which spawned a renaissance in animated features by the studio.

Although not a straight adaptation, Frozen fulfills the dream long-held by Uncle Walt to bring The Snow Queen to the big screen and does so in a way that would have made Disney extremely proud.

The sumptuous visuals in Frozen

The sumptuous visuals in Frozen

A chunk of the credit for the Mouse House’s creative and critical upturn should go to Pixar head honcho John Lasseter,Β  who was appointed Disney’s Chief Creative Officer back in 2006 and since then has overseen a fresh resurgence in the studio’s output.

It’s also notable that of Disney’s last four animated movies, three have featured strong female leads, with Frozen‘s Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) among the most tenacious yet.

Snow Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) in Frozen

Snow Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) in Frozen

Elsa has the ability to create ice and snow and locks herself away to maintain her secret, even from Anna. When her powers are unintentionally revealed Elsa, in the process of escaping, unwittingly unleashes an eternal winter on the kingdom. Anna goes after her sister to save the kingdom from her icy spell and on her quest is joined by mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his faithful reindeer Sven and a funny little snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

The dashing Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) sweeps Anna (Kristen Bell) off her feet in Frozen

The dashing Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) sweeps Anna (Kristen Bell) off her feet in Frozen

This wouldn’t be a Disney film without the musical numbers and Frozen upholds this fine tradition right from the off with the catchy men-at-work Frozen HeartΒ that brings to mind Snow White And The Seven DwarfsHeigh-Ho.

The plaintive Do You Want To Build A Snowman? does what Disney does best – a heartfelt tune matched by swirling visuals that progresses the story and sticks in the mind, while a group of diminutive trolls are oddly reminiscent of the Fraggles (remember Fraggle Rock? No? Just me then) when they sing Fixer Upper.

Olaf (Josh Gad) just wants a hug in Frozen

Olaf (Josh Gad) just wants a hug in Frozen

The relationship between Anna and Elsa is both simple and complex; they clearly love each other deeply, but time and Anna’s secret has driven a wedge between them, as evidenced by their awkward exchanges during Anna’s coronation as Queen. Disney has been guilty many times of drowning its films in saccharine sweetness, but it’s also the studio that respected its young audience enough to make them deal with death in Bambi and The Lion King.

Heroic mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) aboard his trusty reindeer Sven in Frozen

Heroic mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) aboard his trusty reindeer Sven in Frozen

It pretty much goes without saying that the animation is stunning, but it’s always worth drinking it in regardless, especially the rendering of ice and snow which is simply beautiful. Likewise, the film rattles along at such a pace that you forgive its rather lacklustre plot.

Strong female characters aside, Frozen‘s most memorable character is the loveable Olaf, a figment of Anna’s childhood imagination brought magically and amusingly to life by Elsa’s magic. A lover of “warm hugs”, Olaf is well written and acts just as you’d imagine an imaginary friend brought to life would. Gad’s lively performance elevates Olaf into the premier division of Disney sidekicks next to Pinocchio‘s Jiminy Cricket, the Genie from Aladdin and The Jungle Book‘s Baloo.

Far from leaving me cold, Frozen once again proved that when Disney gets it right, no-one else comes close.

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20 comments

  1. Thomas Ostrowski · January 14, 2014

    Great review. I’ve got the complete series of Fraggle Rock at home; haven’t seen it in a while though. I’m betting that this gets the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

    • Three Rows Back · January 15, 2014

      Glad I’m not the only one! I’d go along with that bet too.

  2. jjames36 · January 15, 2014

    Totally agreed. This is a great movie.

  3. CMrok93 · January 15, 2014

    Good review. It’s one of those very rare animated flicks that works perfectly for anybody who wants to see it, regardless of age, race, or even gender.

    • Three Rows Back · January 15, 2014

      Too true. Disney is fantastic at these sort of movies when it’s on its game. Cheers.

  4. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop · January 15, 2014

    Fine review Mark. Really glad you liked this one, I thought it was absolutely charming. Great animation, great songs (although surprisingly few of them) and the characters were brilliant.

    • Three Rows Back · January 15, 2014

      You’re too kind Chris. Charming is a lovely word to use mate; it put a big smile on my face.

  5. Tim The Film Guy · January 15, 2014

    Great review, I had a great time watching it, really fun and a great return of form for Disney πŸ˜€

    • Three Rows Back · January 15, 2014

      Thanks Tim. Enchanting is the best word I can use. A genuine pleasure.

  6. ruth · January 15, 2014

    Splendid Mark!! I love what you said at the end. Yes, it’s so far from being a cold movie. As we’ve been drown in the crazy Polar Vortex, I didn’t want to be watching a movie called FROZEN but I’m so glad I did!

    As you can see, it’s now on my top 5 of the year. There are so many great characters here, and I didn’t even see the twist coming. Plus I just love the songs! I’m still humming ‘For the First Time in Forever’ πŸ˜€

    • Three Rows Back · January 15, 2014

      Indeed. I thought the opening number was brilliantly done: pure Disney. As for the weather… you guys are having a tough time aren’t you?! Frozen by name, but not by nature though πŸ™‚

  7. Writer Loves Movies · January 17, 2014

    Nice review. Agree with you on the opening number – although as it started on the breaking ice I did, for a very brief second, think I might be watching Rise Of The Guardians again. A great, modern addition to the Disney catalogue with a neat blend of nostalgia.

    • Three Rows Back · January 18, 2014

      Not seen Rise of the Guardians yet, so will have take your word for that! Thanks for the feedback my friend.

  8. Tom · January 18, 2014

    Solid work man. I have to say that despite all the praise it’s getting, I am probably going to let it slide by me because it just doesn’t appeal. Not anything against it, and in fact I’m quite surprised that all these great reviews (including this one) haven’t changed my mind. Strange. All the same, more power to Disney for doing things right !

    • Three Rows Back · January 18, 2014

      Appreciate that Tom. Fair dues. It’ll be on Netflix soon enough I reckon; so it might be worth catching it then. I think you’ll like it!

  9. Lights Camera Reaction · January 24, 2014

    Didn’t like it as much as Tangled, but it was still charming and fun. The animation is incredible in it, especially during ‘Let it Go’
    Great review!

    • Three Rows Back · January 24, 2014

      Much appreciated. Haven’t seen Tangled but it’s on the list. You simply can’t beat a quality Disney flick.

  10. table9mutant · January 26, 2014

    Who doesn’t remember Fraggle Rock?! : ) Excellent review! I LOVED this film. I think it’s the best Disney film in years. And I want an Olaf. : )

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