Thursday, 2 January 2014

Frozen (2013)

Disney's Frozen is extremely loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen and is set in a fictional Norwegian kingdom called Arendelle. The film begins with a princess called Elsa, a girl with the magical power to create snow and ice, accidentally injuring her younger sister Anna. Elsa's parents then decide that the best way of stopping this from ever happening again is to lock Elsa up in her bedroom, isolate her from her sister, and teach her that her powers are dangerous and must be hidden at all costs. Unsurprisingly Elsa's relationship with Anna is damaged and Elsa becomes an emotional wreck. She lives in fear of anyone discovering what she can do. And the Award for Worst Movie Parents of the Year goes too...

Many years later, and after the death of her parents, Elsa is crowned Queen of Arendelle. However at Elsa's coronation party Anna makes the announcement that she's marrying Prince Hans of the Southern Isles - a man that she's only known for just a few hours. Understandably this upsets Elsa and she loses control of her powers, exposing them for all to see. She then panics and runs away, accidentally creating an eternal winter on the kingdom in the process. Anna had no memory of Elsa's powers and now feels guilty about what she's done. She goes after Elsa and on the way she teams up with an ice salesman called Kristoff. They hope to convince Elsa to come back and restore the kingdom to summer. They must also do this before the Duke of Weselton's men find Elsa and try to end the winter by taking her life.

I saw Frozen last month and had intended to finish this review much earlier than I did - but in my excitement over The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug I ended up putting it aside. But Frozen is a brilliant film as well! Some film critics are even saying that it's on a par with Beauty and the Beast! I wouldn't go that far. I don't think that Frozen is as good as Beauty and the Beast or even as good as Tangled but I still think that it's a great film. Frozen is beautiful, moving, charming and funny. It features delightful characters, breathtaking animation and terrific songs. It has a very traditional Disney feel but it still manages to incorporate some new and refreshing things.

One of the biggest reasons why I loved Frozen as much as I did is that it's the first Disney film ever that actually features two heroines! And, whereas other Disney films tend to focus on the heroine finding true love, this film is far more focused on the relationship between Elsa and Anna than on any romantic relationship. It made for an extremely refreshing change! Both of the heroines in Frozen are extremely likeable and well-written. The film focuses mainly on Princess Anna who's cheerful, optimistic and clumsy. She's a bit silly perhaps but very brave and caring. Anna is voiced by Kristen Bell who has a beautiful singing voice and is great in the role. However, although she doesn't get as much screentime, my favourite heroine in this story was Queen Elsa. Queens are almost always evil in Disney stories so it was great to see a likeable one! Elsa has awesomely cool magical powers and gets the best song in the entire film. She's strong yet vulnerable. She's a deeply caring and kind person. She also reminds me of Elphaba from Wicked and Elphaba is one of my favourite fictional heroines. The characters are even played by the same actress! Elsa is voiced by Idina Menzel who originated the role of Elphaba in the Broadway and West End productions of Wicked. There are quite a few Broadway actors voicing characters in this film actually and I loved that. Cinderella star Santino Fontana plays Hans, Spring Awakening actor Jonathan Groff plays Kristoff, and Book of Mormon actor Josh Gad plays Olaf the Snowman - and they're all great! In the past Disney have often asked Broadway actors to voice characters in their films rather than A-list Hollywood actors and I salute them for that. It's one of the many reasons why I find Disney films far preferable to Dreamworks films. How about getting Aaron Tveit or Sierra Boggess or Laura Osnes to voice some characters in your next film, Disney? :)

The songs in Frozen were written by the husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. The pair of them wrote the songs for Disney's recent Winnie the Pooh film and Ropert Lopez co-wrote the musicals Avenue Q and Book of Mormon. Their songs are wonderful and they're all very catchy and memorable. The best song in this film though is Let It Go. It is absolutely stunning! It might even be my favourite Disney song!!! It's a gorgeous song and was the highlight of the film for me. It's the Defying Gravity of the film. It's just so beautiful and Idina Menzel sings it with so much emotion and power. I reckon that about half of this song's 24 million YouTube views are because of me ;) I'll be gutted if Let It Go doesn't win the award for Best Original Song at the 2014 Oscars. My second favourite song in Frozen was the song Love is an Open Door. It's just such a fun, cute and uplifting song. I've embedded both Let it Go and Love is an Open Door below so anybody reading this can hear the songs for themselves. And I have to say that I would be absolutely thrilled if Frozen could get a big-budget stage musical adaptation! I know that an Aladdin musical is due out on Broadway soon and that a Tangled musical is supposed to be in the works but I would love to see Frozen on stage as well! I know it wouldn't be an easy thing to pull off but with an extended score and a big budget I'm sure it would be a huge Broadway or West End hit and a visual spectacle.

Let It Go

Love is an Open Door

In addition to everything that I've mentioned about Frozen already there are also a couple of cute sidekicks: a reindeer called Sven that acts like a dog and a talking snowman called Olaf. Kids will love them both. Sven doesn't talk in this film but Kristoff talks for him :) And I know that the kids will definitely love Olaf! When I went to see Frozen all of the kids in the audience clearly thought he was hilarious. I didn't find Olaf as funny as they all seemed to but he's still a fairly amusing character. And then last but not least there's the character of Kristoff. I wouldn't call Kristoff one of my absolute favourite Disney heroes (I prefer Flynn Rider and Aladdin) but he's still very likeable and his "conversations" with Sven are really endearing.

So, is there anything that I didn't like about Frozen?! Well... I'm not a fan of the Demi Lovato version of Let it Go that's played over the end credits. I don't have a problem with Demi Lovato. I think she's a really good singer. It's just that the pop-py arrangement of the song is horrible. The title of the film bugs me as well. When the Disney executives were trying to work out why The Princess and the Frog wasn't as big a hit as they all thought it was going to be they came to the conclusion that boys and men must have found the title too "girly" and therefore off-putting, so for the past few Disney films the heroine's names haven't been featured in the titles. I mean, yeah, remember The Little Mermaid? What a massive flop that turned out to be... *rolls eyes* Honestly Frozen should have been called The Snow Queen! And Tangled should have been called Rapunzel! The title might sound like a really small thing to get annoyed about it but it just irritates me. If Disney were to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs today it would probably be called Poisoned! I also think that it's quite sexist of Disney to assume that men and boys wouldn't want to see Disney films that feature "feminine" titles. But I do have a bigger issue with Frozen as well. It wasn't enough to ruin the film for me - like I say I still loved it - but it did stop me from enjoying it as much as I would have done.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read) There's a twist in the film because Anna's fiance Hans turns out to evil. He has a diabolical scheme to take over the kingdom. I'm sure that some people out there will really like this twist but I wasn't a fan. This is partly because I really liked Hans up until his hidden agenda was revealed but I have another reason for not liking it. To me it felt like the writers just suddenly thought "Hey! If Anna ends up breaking off her engagement to Hans and choosing Kristoff then the audience might feel sorry for him! We can't give Anna two likeable suitors! We'll just have to make Hans evil!" *sigh* I just really hate it when films feel the need to make a character's spouse or betrothed absolutely horrible in order to "justify" them getting cheated on - even more so since the Love Never Dies musical came out! It's a really big pet peeve of mine. I just think it would have been soooo much better if Anna had actually recognised that she was falling in love with Kristoff and had then broken it off with Hans. He could have then taken it really well and said "Well... I guess it really was crazy of us to get engaged after we'd only known each other for just a few hours and I admit that you and Kristoff really do seem like a great couple". Now wouldn't that approach have been so much nicer and more mature?! Maybe Hans could have even ended up with Elsa at the end.

But leaving that issue with the film aside I still really loved Frozen and I think it's pretty clear that we're onto a new Disney Renaissance now.

Rating: 4.5/5
Film Certificate Rating: PG

P.S. If you're as big a fan of Tangled as I am then you'll be thrilled that Rapunzel and Eugene make a "blink and you'll miss it" cameo appearance in this film. They appear during the First Time in Forever scene. Sadly I didn't know about their cameo appearance when I went to see the film but I'll be definitely looking out for them when I get the DVD. I'm really wondering what they made of everything that was going on in Frozen!


Banríon An Gheimhridh said...

I love your review!

Yeah, the idea that boys wouldn't want to see a movie with the word "princess" in the title is stupid. Both of my cousins, who are both boys, love The Little Mermaid and princesses in general. They also like dancing in tutus. They probably won't when they get a little older when they realize boys are pressured to fit a certain box and are taught to be embarrassed about liking anything associated with girls, which is just sad and completely wrong.

Kristoff is my favorite Disney guy besides Aladdin and Eugene from Tangled. He really felt like a real person, and I loved his personality.

As for the plot twist (spoiler ahead) I liked Hans how he was before his true nature was revealed, but I didn't mind the plot twist that much. I thought it sent a really strong message about not trusting some one you just met that day, and that it takes time to really know someone. But I completely understand why you didn't like it. Thinking back on the movie, I realized there were some scenes that made Hans a little suspicious and foreshadowed his real intentions. Like how he said "princess?" when he first met Anna, how he was smiling while looking at the mountains then turned around with a sombre expression and talked about how Anna was in danger (I may not be remembering the scene correctly but there was a strange change in his facial expression). Also, When he went to Elsa's ice palace he looked up at the chandelier and pointed the crossbow so that the arrow would hit it and come crashing down, and Elsa was standing directly underneath it. The scene that made me suspicious right away when I first watched the movie, however, was during Love is an Open Door. When he said "we finish each other's..." I thought he was going to say "sentences", but when Anna said "sandwiches" he went a long with it. I dunno, I guess most of these are kind of far-fetched, but they caught my attention anyway.

I love Anna and Elsa, and their relationship. It was great that the ending celebrated sisterly love instead of going the cliche route of solving the problem with romantic love. I think their parents had good intentions, but went about it the wrong way.

The animation is stunning and the music is completely amazing. I agree, Let It Go is the best song. I hope it wins the award for Best Original Song too. I thought "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" was a really meaningful song. I think Olaf kind of represented Elsa and Anna's innocence, childhood, and lost connection. He seems to be a part of Elsa, too. For one thing he says "I like warm hugs," something Elsa believes she can't have, and he has an unrealistic dream of being in summer. Also, the gloves Elsa wears are very symbolic...ugh this is just such a good movie it would take me a long time to talk about it all. XD

Anyways, I agree with you about the one word titles. It's getting a little annoying. It's been happening a lot with books aimed at teenagers.

I am a little obsessed with Frozen. I've already seen it twice and I plan on seeing it again. It's one of my favorite Disney movies now. I think I like it even more than Tangled, which I absolutely loved.

Hannah said...

Thank you so much! :D

Spoiler alert for anyone else reading this!

I'd have been happier with the twist if there had been more obvious clues and foreshadowing because then I'd be more willing to believe that they didn't make Hans evil just so we wouldn't feel sorry for him at the end. I've only seen the film once but I didn't pick up ANYTHING about Hans' real nature. I'll have to look out for those things you mentioned when I eventually get round to watching the DVD (the mountain scene you mentioned certainly sounds very interesting). One thing that I did find VERY amusing though was that scene just before Anna goes off to find Elsa. Hans offers to ride out and look for her but Anna says something like "No! I'm her sister so I should be the one to do it, but you can look after my kingdom for me while I'm away". I didn't even think Hans was a villain at the time but I still found that scene really funny! I was thinking "Wait, what?! You're going to trust this man that you've only known for just a few hours to look after your kingdom for you while you're gone?! You're not concerned that he might try to instigate a coup or something?!" But then again it makes sense that Anna would act like that. She's had such a sheltered life that I guess it makes sense that she'd be so trusting. Anyway, I like the IDEA of someone secretly turning out to be a bad guy in a Disney film but I don't like the way it was handled in this film. I think it could have been done a lot better.

I think Anna and Elsa's parents had good intentions too but it's hard for me not to dislike them when I think of all the suffering that poor Elsa went through. I'm like that with the Thor films as well BTW. I think Odin has noble intentions for the most part but I just can't stand him because of him being such a crappy parent! If you're not a fan of the Marvel films then I hope that reference isn't lost on you! :)

I think the song 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman' is really meaningful as well. I was actually reading a review about 'Frozen' the other day and the reviewer pointed out that the second song in a Disney film is usually the one that reveals the desires of the main character, so you have 'Part of That World' from 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Reflection' from 'Mulan'. 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman?' is all about how Anna longs for a relationship with her sister so, yeah, it is a really meaningful song and I agree with what you said about Olaf.

Since I've only seen 'Frozen' once I'm still not sure where I'd place it in my list of favourite Disney films. I'd need to see it a few more times. I did love it though and I can understand why you'd prefer it to 'Tangled'.

Mizzie-Me said...

I haven't seen this film, but I'm officially obsessed with Let It Go! One more reason to like Idina Menzel :)

Mizzie-Me said...

Idina Menzel is going to perform Let It Go at the Oscars! Now I'm REALLY excited to watch the gala!

Hannah said...

I'm really excited about seeing Idina perform it too! :D It will probably the highlight of the night for me!