Most people with any interest in animated films today will best remember Disney by its so-called renaissance era, the era of Hercules and Aladdin. Following a mediocre decade in the 2000s, Disney has managed to return to an era of critical and box office success, the latest of which produced Frozen.
Frozen is the story of Arendelle, a kingdom whose queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) possesses the power to create ice. Elsa keeps this ability a secret from her people as well as her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) until her coronation day, when they are accidentally revealed. Out of fear, she runs to the North Mountain. As she hides out, her kingdom is trapped in an eternal winter, so her sister Ana journeys to the mountain to convince Elsa to return summer to Arendelle. Along the way she meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his sidekick, a reindeer called Sven, as well as other characters like Olaf, the snowman.
Frozen’s story gives the animators at Disney the chance to show off visually, and it pays off really well. Elsa’s ability is a joy to watch on screen and the audience never tires of the beautiful manipulation of ice and snow, whether it is to build a castle or unveil a new dress.
The film also manages to be original in other aspects, namely in terms of plot, even with some formulaic Disney touches. For example, there is no clear villain for most of the film as Elsa, the main reason for Arendelle’s troubles is still a likeable character despite her powers. There is also no damsel in distress in Frozen; Anna is an extremely capable protagonist, and while the film includes themes of love and romance, it also focuses on sisterhood, family and strong-will, something that will please long-disgruntled feminist audience members.
Not all aspects of the plot make much sense: there is a section with trolls that includes a charming song but seems alien to the film’s plot. Even though the audience learns an important piece of information and a bit of the main character’s background, the choice to suddenly include trolls with a completely different background story seemed arbitrary.
Even with a solid plot and beautiful visuals, the film is quite dependent on its songs and they take up a considerable amount of time. Sadly, the songs are a bit conservative by Disney’s standards (think Hercules), despite the abilities of the cast members, including Menzel’s singing abilities. This will not hold true for everyone: if you enjoy show tunes, you will likely enjoy the songs and find that they add to the experience of the film. For others though, it might be frustrating to keep waiting for the story to revert back to the main plot.
If you enjoy the musical quality of Disney films, Frozen is a captivating adventure on screen, and shows off the kind of Disney creativity many had deemed lost for years. The film has a solid plot, likeable characters and great visuals. Even with some faults, Frozen is one of the best Disney films in a long time and may be signalling the return of a golden era.