So I finally got around to seeing Frozen. Yes, you can pick your jaws up off the floor, I know it took me a while. But I’m not a young spry chap with infinite free time that can see every animated film that comes out like I was back in college. But those who know me know that I am a lover of all things animated, so I felt that writing a short review and sharing my thoughts on the film. Why? Because it’s my blog. And I have a whole category over there on the side clearly labeled “Cartoons & Anime”. That’s why. Is that not enough?
For those who aren’t familiar with the general plot of the story, it revolves around two sisters: Elsa and Anna. When Elsa was born she was gifted and/or cursed with magic over ice. However, after an accident with Anna, her parents try to help her learn to control her powers. By locking her in their palace, and letting no one – not even Anna – interact with her until she has mastered her magic. But the parents die, as they do in Disney films, and now Elsa is left as the Queen of their small but prosperous kingdom. However, during the coronation Elsa looses controls of her powers and is driven out by fear to the north mountains where she builds an ice palace in her own private
idaho ice kingdom completely unaware that her actions have left the kingdom buried and frozen in a deep snow in the middle of summer. Now Anna has to try to convince her sister to thaw the kingdom.
It sounds REALLY simplistic, but actually it constantly messes with your expectations and rarely do things like this stay so simple. Treason, treachery, trolls, and snowmen also make appearances and often not where you expect them. I don’t want to go into much or else I’ll spoil some of the awesome of the film but the film does a great job of screwing with your typical “Ah of course it’s Disney” stereotypes and tropes. All the way down to the ending and how the plot is resolved challenges the way you would think a film like this would play out. Honestly, it feels more like a Dreamworks story but the classic Disney quality to it and next to zero pop culture references (Seriously, Dreamworks. Tone that **** down.)
Gorgeous. That’s all I can say. Starting back when Disney Animation put on Tangled, I think they really hit on something with the overall emphasis on using facial animation to depict emotion. It added an energy to the characters’ expressions that you didn’t see in a lot of other CGI films. Combining that with the enjoyably cartoony body movements and you honestly have some of the most delightful characters to watch on screen in a long time (in my opinion at least.) That same energy is brought to bare in Frozen, emphasized on the emotional turmoil that Elsa goes through over the film and the manic pixie girl like tendencies of Anna. It’s an animated film that’s fun to watch and re-watch just to look at all the little details that each character has in a scene. Something I’ve missed since the later seasons of Jimmy Neutron on Nickelodeon when the animators started really having fun putting gags in the background or with characters that are not the center of focus for the audience.
Of course, I’d be called on it if I didn’t bring up the overly emphasized clipping errors that have been making the rounds on the internet. Yes, Elsa’s hair clips through her arm at one point. It’s not even a half second long and unless it’s been beaten into you by sites like Tumblr or wherever it’s being passed around you wouldn’t likely notice it. Honestly, I barely noticed it all even knowing it was there with all the other glorious visual being poured directly into my eye balls. Like the ICE.
Oh geeze, if there was ever a reason to buy a Blu-Ray player, watching this movie in high definition just for the ICE is going to be worth it. Even in theaters the fractals of ice just look gorgeous.
Honestly, this is probably where I have the least to say. I’ve never been a huge critic of actors. Everyone did really well here. That’s about all I can say. If there were any shows stealers it would be Olaf the Snowman voiced by Josh Gad who turned in an amazingly happy over the top and blissfully innocent snowman. Honestly, we were astonished about how darn loveable that performance was. Kirstin Bell (Anna) and Johnathan Groff (Kristof) turn in performances with a great chemistry between the two with well timed oral jabs at each other. Idina Menzel as Elsa was… well that’s complicated the more I think of it. She does the high drama moments incredibly well (Not surprising for a Broadway star) but in the less tense moments felt a tad… meh. It may be partly because outside of the fervent emotional turmoil, Elsa doesn’t have a ton going on as a character, especially in comparison to Anna who deals with her repressed worldview, her is she/isn’t she evil relationship with her sister, and her spontaneous and insane love life. Elsa is just a bit more of a one trick character. But that one trick is rendered masterfully.
You know the theory has been passed around that Elsa’s story in Frozen is very much akin to dealing with a mental illness, and more specifically depression. As someone with a mental illness, I can say that yea. There IS a lot of that. It did strike a serious cord in parts with things I’ve experienced in my own life. And it handles them well. Repeated phrases like Don’t show, don’t let them know and the insistence of just trying to control it. After all how many times have someone heard “Have you tried just being happy and stop being depressed?” The message continues with the idea that no matter how bad, or how awful, or how much damage you might unintentionally cause – there will always those who care about you. Be it family or friends. It was a nice message that really made me feel warm fuzzies walking out of that theater and I won’t lie – I teared up more than once. (Okay, fine I tear up at the drop of a hat. I was flat out bawling tears at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3.)
So would I recommend the film? Absolutely. No matter how old or young you are there is something wonderful and powerful to be found in this film. I have been beaming about it since we saw it and I don’t imagine my utter dumbfounded shock at how amazing it was will subside anytime soon. So yes, go see Frozen. Do it.