Awards season sure was kind to Walt Disney’s Frozen and that’s because it is so deserving of all the praise. This clever and hilarious throwback to the princess films of the past was a huge hit in theaters but it also managed to snag some praiseworthy Oscars for “Best Animated Film” but also “Best Original Song” at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Chris Buck’s endlessly delightful film really helps carry the torch for the studio’s new direction while staying true to the Disney legacy.
Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, even Bolt to some degree, were solid attempts at Disney getting into the CG game but Frozen has shown the world that animators/storytellers can do a lot with these newfangled virtual tools. These guys have really found their stride and while the future lies in embracing the digital realm the animators strive to make sure that real the focus is, as always, on story and characters. Frozen is a hit in keeping with the studio’s recent and former glories and this Blu-Ray edition is bursting with features that take fans deeper into the chilly but enchanting world.
In Frozen, the fearless Princess Anna teams up with Kristoff and his brave reindeer on a journey of epic proportions to ride the kingdom and countryside of the eternal winter that’s been cast upon it. Along the way they meet a hilarious snowman named Olaf and calamity ensues. Queen Elsa (Anna’s sister) isn’t a classical villain, she’s not even bad, not at all. In fact she has unknowingly turned a peaceful summer paradise into a harsh winter wasteland. But it’s the anger and misunderstanding of her subjects who have driven her into the mountains and perpetuated the icy change. It’s up to Anna, Kristoff and the bumbling Olaf to help put things right and enact a change of heart within Elsa as well as the citizens of the kingdom.
Of all the threads in this cutesy princess yarn it’s the side character Olaf that steals the show. Part of the success in his character being so fun and appealing is the writing and character design but it’s Josh Gad’s delivery that really makes it sing…and sing he does. His song is just one of the many delightful elements in the story that is just teeming with old school Disney magic. The team takes some classical ingredients but then infuses the film with a very modern sensibility. It’s a classic story that’s been retooled and re-branded for a whole new generation while still managing to cater to the old ones as well.
One difference between this film and the Disney classic of yesteryear are the female protagonists. No damsels in distress here, just a story about strong-willed women which brings us to Anna (played Kristen Bell), the younger princess. She’s a fun loving and endlessly kind character which is very much in in keeping with that famous Disney royalty. On the flip side, Elsa (played by Idina Menzel), Anna’s older sister, has come of age and after being crowned as the new reigning queen the secret about her ability to conjure ice is made public which causes her to flee from her very own kingdom.
Frozen was directed by Chris Buck (Surf’s Up, Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter Wreck-It Ralph) sticks her co-directorial debut with this surprisingly charming little film. Again, the story is solid and very Disney-like replete with all the spectacle and splendor you’d expect to find in a Mouse House movie. Looking at the film holistically, Frozen is a return to form for the studio especially in regards to the integral music and songwriting. Frozen has a few tracks that feel forced or tacked on but most of the songs do jive with the plot and have high replay value (again especially Olaf’s song).
Frozen has some echoes of Beauty and the Beast and maybe a little bit of Tangled. Now this isn’t the traditional princess movie from Disney, but it does have that classic Disney feel completely reminiscent of the studio’s mega hits in the late 80s and early 90s. To be fair, while Frozen ended fantastically things didn’t start out so engaging. Laying out the back story sure took its time but it was only after Olaf’s introduction that things really took off. He is without a doubt the highlight of the film (easily one of the studio’s most endearing and memorable sidekicks of all time); full of delightful comic relief he adds a ton of fun and laughter to the story.
At its core, Frozen is full of heart and children are just going to love this. Adults will sneak more than a few glances at their watches (well those who don’t care for all of the musical ballads), but the constant presence of Olaf certainly makes up for that. All-in-all the movie is cute, fun and family friendly. So bask in the gorgeous Blu-Ray transfer (again Disney transfers are consistently solid) and features of this icy wonderland that’s just bursting with that patented Disney magic.