Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) has a special power. She can create snow and ice from the tips of her fingers. One day, while playing with her sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), there is an accident. Elsa’s parents are advised to keep Elsa’s powers hidden. If anyone were to find out, they would turn against her.
Elsa is kept locked away in a room, no longer allowed to play with her sister, who had been her best friend up to this point. Poor Anna is left growing up alone. With the castle gates locked to all visitors, and her sister alone in her room, Anna has no one to play with. Anna dreams of nothing more than to have a friend and to find love.
When Elsa is crowned queen of Arandelle, the castle is opened to visitors. Anna sees her sister after many years. Anna also meets a man, Hans (Santino Fontana) , and quickly falls in love. The couple immediately become engaged.
During an argument in front of the castle guests, Anna pulls off one of Elsa’s gloves, which are used to conceal her power. In a fit of anger, Elsa reveals her magic. As expected, everyone is frightened. Elsa, now shunned by her people, runs away. Free to be herself, Elsa is transformed into a “sexier” version of herself (yes, I realize this is a Disney cartoon movie, so that may seem an odd comment, but you will know what I mean when you see it.) and builds her own castle out of ice. Still unable to fully control her powers, Elsa casts Arendelle into a perpetual winter.
Anna is convinced that the only hope for the kingdom to be released from the spell is for her to talk to Elsa to get her to relinquish her icy hold on the kingdom. She heads off alone in search of her sister, leaving Hans to look after the kingdom.
Along the way, Anna meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), an ice farmer who is wandering the country with his reindeer, Sven. She persuades him to help her on her quest. They are joined by Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman magically created by Elsa, much like the one Anna and Elsa built as young girls. The group must make their way through the snowy wilderness to Elsa’s ice castle and try to reverse the hold she has on the kingdom.
I realized that after watching the trailer for Frozen, I had absolutely no idea what this movie was about. All I knew is that there was a snowman who was alive being chased by a reindeer trying to eat his nose. That’s it. Frozen is a much different story than I had imagined. For one thing, most of what you see in the trailer isn’t in the movie.
Disney is going back to what made them so popular in the first place: Musical princess stories. Much of the dialogue in the movie quickly evolves into song. And it is excellently done. The songs are well written and give you a narrative of what the characters are thinking or feeling at that moment. The transition from speaking to singing was seamless. At no point did I feel this took you out of the moment or cheapened the film, as so easily can happen.
The story, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, does have its dark moments. It is a Disney movie, so you know there will be some sad/tragic scenes. It tells a story that, while sharing some thematic similarities with their other princess tales, seems original. Yes, there were parts that are a bit predictable, but I’m well above the target demographic, so it’s excusable. Plus, you get so wrapped up in the way the story is being told, it doesn’t bother you at all. I will say, the ending was a little less than satisfying, but the rest of the movie really makes up for it.
The cast works incredibly well together. I realize that animated movies are filmed much differently than live action, so there is less interaction between the actors, but you never get a disconnected feeling between any of them. Aside from Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad, I hadn’t heard of most of the leads. Idina and Kristen are great. Both are very talented and shine in their characters. And the musical performances are just as good as the acting. Josh Gad is as goofy and funny as always. His Olaf brings most of the comic relief to the movie. He really lightens the mood without going over the top. The charm and magic you see in Olaf in the trailer carries into the film, even if the scenes do not. The “unknowns” don’t disappoint, either. They all perform at the same level as the leads, making for a good ensemble.
The visuals are amazing, as you would expect. The wintry landscapes jump off the screen (I definitely recommend seeing this in 3D). Elsa’s ice castle seems to be Disney showing off what it can do with their technology. I mean this in the most complimentary way, possible. It is amazing the attention to detail. The imagery and effects overall are stunning.
Frozen is probably one of the better Disney princess movies to come along in a long time. Possibly one of the better Disney movies overall to come along in a while. It really is that good. Find some time during this long weekend to take the family out to see this one.