It’s almost a late movie review, but I finally saw Frozen over the weekend. Spoilers ahead.
The movie ends up being better than I expected from the trailers. Kristen Bell is very good both as an actress and as a voice actress, and a lot of her quirky personality slips into her character, Anna. Anna and her sister, Elsa (voice played by Idina Menzel), are princesses of the realm. Elsa has a secret – she has command over ice and snow, to the point of being able to send an entire realm into an ice age. When the movie starts, young Elsa shares her secret with her kid sister and makes indoor ice rinks and snow banks for her to play in until by accident she shoots her sister with one of her freezing beams. She’s told by her parents and some magic trolls to never to reveal her powers again. Anna grows up not remembering what happened and forever trying to get her sister to leave her room.
Of course we all know that the idea of Elsa repressing her powers is a terrible idea and is going to backfire, but that’s the setup for the plot which borrows very lightly from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
The King and Queen sail away on a voyage and are lost at sea. As the eldest, Elsa is destined to the throne when she comes of age. When she does, the doors to the castle are finally opened for Coronation Day and Anna is the happiest at seeing people and ready to party. As she sings around the square (yes, this is a musical) she runs into charming Hans which seems to be a perfect soul mate for her. They’re quick to think about marriage on the very same day they meet. What could go wrong? Well, you probably can guess out what’s coming next.
As Elsa’s coronation goes all kinds of wrong, her ice powers freeze the entire kingdom and she runs away, with Anna valiantly chasing after her. Alone and misunderstood, Elsa finally abandons caution to the wind and forges herself her own castle. Here’s where the details become important. Elsa was wrong to repress her powers and hide them from Anna. That’s already the very obvious moral of the story but it’s refreshing to see that Elsa doesn’t really go evil per se, she just needs some space. It’s a guilty pleasure to see her finally go full throttle and let out what she has been holding back for years.
Meanwhile Anna runs into Kristoff, a dude who’s broke after his ice business has gone belly up, and his reindeer Sven. Eventually the party will be joined by the standard Disney comic relief, the airhead snowman Olaf. Olaf’s mission in this movie is simple, act silly and make sure to reinforce all the important parts of the plot where those less enlightened might have to otherwise turn to their friends on the theatre and ask for explanations. I’d love to see a sans-Olaf director’s cut but at least he does stay out of the way when not needed. He gets his one song when he’s endearingly ignorant of what heat does to snow. At least for the most part he stays within his role and never reaches Jar Jar Binks heights of annoyance, thank heavens.
It’s also a welcome detail that the central story line’s resolution ends up resting between Anna and Elsa only. Hans reveals himself as the bad guy, the Duke of Weselton’s plot to kill Elsa fails and Elsa does indeed finally reconciles with her sister and learns the lesson to control her powers. You do see hints here and there where the story could have taken an uglier or darker turn and where it could never really being an issue to begin with but all things considered it was a good outcome. Although Anna is the main character, Elsa is really the leading role, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Broadway adaptation.
Recommended as a smarter alternative of a children’s movie to watch were the female leads actually carry the movie and solve their problems. It’s not perfect, but overall the flaws do not betray the story. According to The Snow Queen entry in Wikipedia, the characters in Frozen of Hans, Kristoff and Anna are supposed to be an allusion to Hans Christian Andersen.
High points: Elsa and Anna carry the entire movie. Elsa would’ve easily just be the “evil queen” but she’s given a lot more depth than that. Anna is likeable, quirky and definitely not defenseless. There’s a low point when the solution to a freezing heart seems to be a male hero’s kiss, but the movie redeems itself in the end making it a high point.
Low points: Olaf the snowman. Sven the reindeer. The stone trolls that give Anna a solution to a frozen heart really could have saved her a lot of trouble being specific. The same stone trolls are actually responsible for all the wrong decisions because of their original advice to repress Elsa. At least they should’ve apologized in the end.