“Some people are worth melting for”
winter never looks this warm and fuzzy…
From the creator of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, so it promotes. While the latter is largely enjoyable, the former is accentuated more, due to similarity in theme and feel; alas, it left a lot to be desired. Stunning visual aside, the core — story — is quite hollow, the humor is sometimes funny at times slapstick, and the round large bulging eyes are distractingly freaky. This musical-animation flick also treads on banal formula we’ve seen a hundred times before: wicked old lady, hapless king and queen, impossibly slender and beautiful heroine with her non-human companion and of course the dazzling prince charming.
Only the characterizations of the lead couple are refreshingly different: sweeping golden-haired Rapunzel is scrappy and feisty; goatee Flynn Rider/Eugene is a thief, flirtatious and as un-winsome and un-prince-charming-like as he can be with such portrayal. Growing up in Disney Renaissance era, i’m accustomed to composed, graceful, yet rather meek princess and her sympathetic and chivalrous white knight — classic fairy tale in its dreamiest state — so the change seen in Tangled is much welcome although the two’s antics can be embarrassing to watch.
With that in mind comes Frozen. I was quite hesitant to watch it on the big screen since Tangled as a whole didn’t really land and wasn’t as memorable as expected either. So i started with this trailer (hmm…looking good) and then this one boasting “The adventure, the magic, the music… experience the greatest Disney animated event since The Lion King.”
Now, how can you NOT get excited at that teaser??
(I stopped at that video so as not to watch further trailers/spoilers) Well, what a slick marketing, but we’ll soon see whether it’s a mere carrot dangler or the real deal.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the plot of Frozen is pretty straightforward as narrated in the trailer. Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) possesses a power to conjure up frozen-solid materials like snow or ice. One day she lets it show and the people of Arendelle are aghast. Fingered as a sorceress, she flees the scene and unwittingly sets the tropical kingdom on eternal winter. Her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) is determined to find her and bring back summer… Does she need somebody else’s help — Nice Guy, Ice Guy, Olaf — or can she accomplish this mission all by herself? This is the journey.
However, things aren’t as easy as they seem. The sisters aren’t really on good terms she needs to break the ice first. They used to be close, happily playing on ice Elsa created and building snowman they named Olaf… until a certain accident where her power hit Anna, rendered her unconscious, and turned a section of her brown hair white. The family rushes to seek help from the cutest animated trolls ever. Troll King who later on referred to as Grand Pabbie (Ciarán Hinds) erases Anna’s memory on Elsa’s magic and warns them that the power will only get stronger and to keep it under control especially in times of fear and anger…
Thereafter, Elsa’s been told to be a good girl and “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know,” including distance herself from her little sister. Anna always wonders why Elsa suddenly shuts her out, unaware that Elsa basically becomes a shut-in by doing so, relentlessly knocking on her door asking if she wants to build a snowman (heartbreaking sequence) even on the day their parents went out and never came back. Why does it always have to go like this??
It’s good to see Anna manages to remain bubbly and frivolous despite having no friends or someone to talk to… until the coronation day, the first time in forever when she would see the world and meet people. Strangely, she wishes not to make friends, but dives straight into finding The One. Granted, she crosses path with Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), expectantly spends the night conversing-cum-duetting Love is an open door, and readily accepts his out-of-the-blue proposal. The engagement is so sudden and absurd it creates friction between the sisters which leads to the exposure of Elsa’s secret power.
As she chases after Elsa, feeling partly responsible for the happening and wanting to restore everything to its rightful place, she meets a mountain guy who sells ice for a living (Jonathan Groff. I don’t think he ever mentions his name until Anna mispronounced his as Christopher; it should be Kristoff for the record) and his reindeer Sven, and together they bump into a naive and hilarious life snowman who likes warm hugs and the idea of summer, sun, and all things hot (lol), introduces himself as Olaf (Josh Gad), and leads the way to Elsa’s whereabouts.
Up on the North Mountain, Elsa feels safe and at ease. And now that everyone knows her secret, she jubilantly unleashes the ability she’s contained all along, building herself a castle of ice (atop the empowering powerhouse Let it go). However, she tenses up again upon Anna’s arrival, and unbeknownst to her, a flash of her power strikes through Anna’s heart, slowly freezes it. What could thaw it is an act of true love, which to them means a kiss from the prince charming. But is it really so?
The story doesn’t end here, obviously, since we have yet to see if Arendelle will be able to see summer again, and/or if the sisterhood bond can be mended, but this is an animation movie, moreover a Disney tale, so we all know how the story will end, don’t we? Nevertheless, i think the duration is too short… i wish the journey of finding Elsa were longer, the culmination more gripping, and the romance would blossom more naturally, because what Frozen has is rather rushed and expedited.
[Spoilers ahead] Both Elsa and Kristoff deem Anna-Hans’ engagement too premature, but at least they spent some time getting to know each other. Anna-Kristoff ‘s interaction on the other hand lacks such moments it’s hard to buy the attraction. Anna still thinks of Hans as her true love up until the point wherein Hans turns around, the next moment she feels the otherwise? And the denouement — how can the realization of the power of love enable Elsa to lift the spell? I’m not looking too much into these matters, but they just don’t feel right.
Those aside, i love the twist at the end — that love doesn’t always have to be interpreted in terms of romance, that an act of true love doesn’t always have to be received, but can also be given/shown, and that we can literally save ourselves from any plight. There’s also no irksome evil villain! Disney breaking away from platitudinous tropes — thumbs up! =)
Elsa may seem like the deuteragonist, but she holds a bigger role and is more complex a character than Anna who largely resembles Tangled‘s Rapunzel. I am also happy to note that nearly all characters down to the sidekicks are likeable. Hans and Kristoff are less tacky than Eugene, Sven more animal-like than Maximus, and Olaf is actually a wacky addition to the team. All in all, Frozen is much better film than Disney’s last princessy-themed attempt. Story-, visual-, score-wise. It’s also more musical as singsong — with meaningful messages nonetheless — replaces dialogues at every turn. That said, it isn’t the best animation i’ve ever seen, princessy or not, but is zippy, captivating, moving, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. It’s winning in its simplicity. Need i comment on the visual or the OST?
I am a sucker for animation flicks and I dare say Frozen is Disney animation at its finest. Love love it!!
too old for CGI animation? I don’t think so~
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Production: Walt Disney Pictures, Motion Pictures, 2013
Cast/Voice talents: Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gad (Olaf), Santino Fontana (Hans), Ciarán Hinds (Grand Pabbie/Troll King)
Genre: Family, Animation, Musical, CGI
~ stills captured from the official trailers and clips at disneyanimation ~