PLOT - The film is allegedly based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. I say allegedly because The Snow Queen is about a peasant rescuing her brother from an evil, supernatural queen of ice and hatred, and Frozen is about a princess whose sister has magical ice powers and runs away after being crowned queen, so she has to go find her with the help of a hunky ice salesman. Also, The Snow Queen in the book has a mirror that reveals the worst of everyone who looks into it, and when it shatters, shards of it land in the brother’s eyes, forcing him to only see the worst aspects of everyone he meets. In the movie, she has a Wacky Snowman Friend.
While I would have loved to see a movie closer to the book, or at least as close as The Little Mermaid, an Andersen adaptation which changed quite a lot, but at least kept vaguely the same shape as the story, this was still good. The relationship between the sisters was well-realized, and there was a neat subversion of the old Disney “love at first sight” bit, and we all know how much I love that. Part of the story didn’t work for me, but I don’t want to spoil, so I’ll just say the thing that was the thing probably should have been another thing than the thing it turned out to be, which was a bit too simple. Also the trolls were kind of lame.
ACTING AND CHARACTERS - The main royal types were played by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, who both did predictably excellent jobs. Bell acted much as she did in Reefer Madness, selling the Disney brand of pseudo-oblivious optimism sincerely, rather than parodically, as she did in that movie. Menzel excellently communicated the fear and confidence of her character, and the conflict between the two. She doesn’t sound even close to 18, though. I have no idea how old she is, but I assume everyone from the original cast of Rent is 50 or so. And based on how craggy Anthony Rapp looked on Psych last week, I may be right.
|Put that in your theme park, Disney.|
ANIMATION - The one area that gets almost unreserved praise from me. I say almost because the main character designs are kind of uninspired. I mean, they’re attractive enough, band appealing enough, but everyone looks like a first draft. And Anna looks pretty much exactly like Rapunzel. The supporting characters, though, look great, and more importantly, so does the setting. When the Snow Queen accepts her powers and starts instinctively using them, she creates a huge ice palace from nothing in a really spectacular scene, and the rest of the movie is all snow and ice and giant snow golems and races across frozen oceans. It’s really spectacular.
|I mean, really.|
There are a few others that I recall as working well, and a few that I recall existing, though I can’t recall a single other thing about them. The trouble the soundtrack runs into is a complete disconnect with the tones and styles of the various songs. Unlike Hercules, where there was a defining style throughout the movie, or The Princess and the Frog, where there was a theme of deep South style, these songs don’t really sound like they belong to the same movie. And as a friend on Facebook pointed out, it’s a bit odd to cast a Broadway/Glee star like Jonathan Groff and then only give him one little 50-second song.
|And he stands about while other people are singing. So that's something?|