Saturday, December 7, 2013

Frozen Review (Better Late than Never)

After seeing Frozen, I am going to say the exact same thing I said after seeing Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled (except with much more enthusiasm, and for real this time), and that is that Disney is back.  Despite my initial reference to Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled, I have to say Frozen is definitely a good step above each of those films and is comparable to Walt's 90s films such as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (although not quite to the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast status some claim it to be).  With smart humor, a nearly Disney cliche defying plot, and memorable music, Frozen reigns in as, not only the best animated film of the year by far, but one of the most entertaining outings 2013 has to offer.

The plot of Frozen begins with the little prologue-esque scene with the two princess sisters (after two intro songs, which were good enough, especially the one playing as the logos were appearing), Anna and Elsa, as small children.  These first couple of scenes do a great job at setting up the initial conflicts (most of them internal and more grey-shaded, and almost none of the typical wicked witch type conflict you'd expect to see in a Disney Princess Film) however there are a couple early plot explanations over Elsa's (the older sister) ice abilities that seem almost a little to childish (It would have been more interesting if they elaborated more on how Elsa got her ice powers, because other than a couple of theses parts the movie does a fairly good job at being appealing to both adults and children).  However, that minor discrepancy is quickly forgotten as the film goes into its first  (well technically third) real musical number, Do You Want to Build A Snowman, and despite the title actually resonates with a lot of emotional depth (comparable to the Up intro, in a slightly different way).

The musical numbers as a whole were very well done, many of the songs were catchy and would stick in your head as you left the theater, they were all well-done and were a major step above Tangled's music (which I honestly liked, but these were much more like you'd expect from a classic Disney animation).  The most memorable of these songs was definitely Let It Go, which is the anthem of the movie and is actually very comparable to Part of Your World in musical quality and how it was written, expect this to become the new over sang disney song by girls at talent shows and beauty pageants.  Other songs of particular note were, For the First Time in Forever which is a reoccurring theme throughout the show, and has a particularly strong and emotional reprise (which is sadly a bit anti-climatic in the end).  There was also In Summer, sung by the snowman character Olaf, this is was some great comedic relief and was sung extremely well, it reminded me Josh Gad definitely has talent (just he should stick to broadway style shows and comic relief, similar to his role as Arnold in Book of Mormon at Broadway).  The last main song of note was Love is an Open Door, it was hysterical, well written, and was ironically cliche defying by how openly it was embracing the disney cliche of the princess falling in love with the Prince after just meeting him, it's even funnier when you listen to it again after knowing the plot if the story.

The overall story arc of Frozen was really well paced, it was able to balance out the dramatic moments with bits of comic relief (mostly from Olaf, but there are some standout comedy scenes that aren't done by Gad) thrown in.  What's even more nice to note is none of the comic relief  is unnatural, and it's at a bare minimum (if not a complete absence) of fart jokes and pop culture references that plague the typical animated flick.  As for the dramatic moments, they are done splendidly, there is actual depth in this story, and despite being another disney fairy tale, it definitely doesn't play out like one (you know how it ends, but the journey to the ending is very different and thrilling).  My only complaint is that there were parts that could get a little to childish for an adult to fully enjoy (those were few), the romance was a little underdeveloped (It was cute, and was done much better than the typical Disney princess romance, i'll give it that), and there were certain parts where they went far for Disney but I wanted them to go farther, I understand that it's still a family film, but I wanted them to push the limits a little more, especially with Elsa's character (I am mostly saying this because they took a good step away from being a safe film, but they could have taken the leap similar to The Lion King and gotten much farther with the film)

Now, as for the animations in the film, it was absolutely gorgeous and had some stunning visual scenes that were definitely worth the price to see it in the theaters.  What's even better to note about the animation was it didn't just serve to be some great visuals (like in Monster's University, the only film this year that had animation on par with Frozen's) but it actually really enhanced the tone of the story, and was a major plot device.  The animators didn't just create the setting, but they used the stunning visuals to to help add depth to the story and make the setting much more of a character than just a place where the characters are.

Lastly, all of the voice actors did a great job in this film, each one encompassed their purpose and completed their character's wonderfully.  Josh Gad was a fantastic comedic standout as Olaf, his humor added so much and is one of the better comedic relief characters Disney has been able to create.  Idina Menzel was fantastic as Elsa and was able to encompass the internal struggles very well, although there were some points where she could have had a little less gravity to it.  Kirsten Bell was also a standout, and did a fantastic job carrying the story due to most of it centering around her, plus props to Disney for writing her character in a way to break their own cliches (and make fun of them at the same time).

Overall, Frozen was an extremely enjoyable experience and has officially brought Disney back into their A game, hopefully they can keep on growing from here.  With breathtaking visuals, strong and catchy music, and an intelligent script (despite the few fallacies where it leans more on the childish side), Frozen is a fantastic film that has officially brought them back as the new animated studio to beat (especially after Pixar's fall in quality).

9.5 / 10 Sticks of Bamboo for Frozen

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