Dirs: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. US. 2013. 102mins
There is a tasty dose of old-fashioned Disney animation magic to Frozen which takes its origins from Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Snow Queen but leverages in enough action, magic, romance and – most importantly for the young ones - a fun and good-natured snowman who dreams of experiencing summer to click with a family audience looking for pre-Christmas distractions for the young ones.
The coming together of traditional fairytale structure with the antics of the genially naïve snowman feels more than a little contrived at times, but the film’s energy and good-nature keeps things on track through to a nicely surprising series of twists towards the climax.
The film, Disney’s 53rd in-house animated feature, looks terrific and has plenty of relatively innocent fun and adventure, and while it might lack the knowing humour of a Pixar film or the sly wit and cleverness of recent hits such as Wreck-It Ralph or the rather underrated Tangled, it should hit the target for rather undemanding tots.
Andersen’s The Snow Queen may well be the basis, but writer-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have used the story as a launching point for their own wintery tale, while centres around two sisters, younger Anna (Kirsten Bell) and elder Elsa (Idina Menzel), who are heirs to the enchanted Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle.
Elsa has ability to magically create a winter wonderland of ice and snow, but when her powers start to prove dangerous and she nearly kills Anna she starts to hide herself away. As her coronation approaches, she is unsure if she can control her powers, while at the same time Anna has had her memory of the incident with her sister wiped and is bemused by her sister’s attitude.
Things go from bade to worse when Anna makes the mistake of asking her sister’s permission to marry the hunky Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) which causes Elsa’s power to flare up…she flees to the mountains, but causes summery Arendelle to be enveloped in snow and ice.
Anna gives chase, eventually meeting Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a good-looking ice seller who agrees to help Anna search for Elsa in the hope of bringing sunshine to the land. At the same time snowman Olaf (voiced beautifully by Josh Gad), who has been brought to life by Elsa’s magic, also enters the scene and dreams of seeing summer, despite the fact of what it might do to him.
The coming together of traditional fairytale structure with the antics of the genially naïve snowman feels more than a little contrived at times, but the film’s energy and good-nature keeps things on track through to a nicely surprising series of twists towards the climax, and in Olaf the filmmakers have come up with such a fun character that all is forgiven.
Production company: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Executive producer: John Lasseter
Screenplay: Jennifer Lee, based on a story by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Shane Morris, inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Cinematography: Scott Beattie, Mohit Kallianpur
Editor: Jeff Drahein
Production designer: David Womersley
Music: Christophe Beck; songs, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
Main cast: (voices) Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds