Friday, November 29, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Frozen (2013)

FROZEN (2013) is a deeply moving masterwork which joins the pantheon of classic Disney animated musicals. It's one of the finest films I've seen this year, classic era or new.

This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's THE SNOW QUEEN hits all the right notes, starting with a stunning opening sequence with Nordic chanting while men cut ice from a frozen lake.

FROZEN tells the story of royal sisters Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa has mysterious icy powers which allow her to conjure up blizzards and freezing weather. (The cause of Elsa's power is never explained, but I don't think it's a fairy tale.) As Elsa matures and her powers become harder to control, especially when she's upset, she lives apart from Anna in order to protect her.

When elegant Elsa comes of age and it's time for her coronation, she attempts to step into the public at last, with disastrous results which cause her to flee the kingdom.

Anna determines to help Elsa, aided by mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), as well as Olaf (Josh Gad), a talking snowman who was Elsa's creation. Olaf, along with Kristoff's reindeer Sven, provides needed comic relief in counterpoint to the dramatic story.

This is a film with strong emotional heft, and it has a soaring score and impressive production design to match. "Let It Go," sung by the solitary Elsa as she embraces her inner Snow Queen, is one of the great Disney anthems, which is also a visual stunner; I admit that I watched it through tears, deeply moved by its power and emotion. It's an unforgettable sequence.

"For the First Time in Forever" was another favorite song in the score which was composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Some of the more "contemporary" lyrics occasionally jar, given the setting, but overall it's an excellent score.

FROZEN was directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Lee wrote the screenplay based on a story she authored with Buck and Shane Morris. The film runs 108 minutes.

The voice cast also includes Santino Fontana, Ciaran Hinds, Edie McClurg, Maurice LaMarche, and Robert Pine (father of Chris).

Parental Advisory: FROZEN is a very mild PG for reasons including "rude humor." Two notably crass moments, which the filmmakers sadly mistake for being "hip," mar what is otherwise a perfect Disney animated film.

Here's more on the film from the Los Angeles Times ("with heart and heart-stopping action...fabulous") and Disney historian Leonard Maltin ("show-stopping renditions of soaring new songs...Disney still reigns supreme when it comes to sweeping musical fairy tales").

The trailer is available at the movie's official website. The trailer, curiously, gives no hint that FROZEN is a musical.

A must for those who love Disney animation or musicals, FROZEN is very highly recommended.

November 2019 Update: My review of FROZEN II (2019).


Blogger redcon1 said...

Saw this tonight and enjoyed it very much.However, the Mickey Mouse short that preceded it was AMAZING!
Pretty cool that Walt's old voice recordings as Mickey were re-used for this cartoon.

8:24 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I saw this last night. Still pondering what I think of it. It didn't produce instant love like Tangled. Definitely had some nice animation, and I liked the characters a lot. The songs didn't thrill me, however. I couldn't remember the melody of a single one when I exited the theater. I did like the "Let it Go" one while Elsa transforms and builds her ice castle.

Did you stay through the credits? There was a funny little tag at the very end with the ice monster. And there was a disclaimer in the credits having to do with one of the crude moments of the movie that made me laugh out loud because it was so unexpected.

Hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Redcon, I agree, that short was amazing! I was lucky to have a nice chat with two of the GET A HORSE animators in a line at the Disney Expo last summer.

Deb, I was very interested in your feedback -- isn't it interesting how different films strike different chords? I enjoyed TANGLED a lot but FROZEN touched me on a much deeper level. Immediately bought the soundtrack. It sounds like our responses to the two movies were the inverse of one another.

I did see the end tag, it was cute! We're always the last ones out of the theater, LOL.

Hope you and yours had a great holiday too!!

Best wishes,

9:16 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

We do usually seem to run differently on animated movies in particular! But for me, it still always comes down to whether or not I want to be the characters, and in Frozen, the sisters are so miserable most of the movie, I soooo don't want to be either of them. Their sadness made me unhappy. This was an extremely stressful movie for me to watch, and it broke my heart so many times. I actually wanted to leave the theater at one point, because I couldn't take the stress of their broken relationship. Maybe because it does touch on a deeper level? Because I was thinking of my own sister, who I am so close to? Hm, not sure, but from that aspect, it's a very effective film... just not in a way that I want to revisit!

9:31 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That is so interesting, Deb! I can see how the way you relate to films would make FROZEN more difficult for you. It was definitely very touching at points -- I think I liked it because part of the way I watch movies is analyzing the characters and relationships, rather than feeling I'd actually like to be them. And it's more the "armchair adventurer" getting to experience things I wouldn't necessarily want to experience myself.

It really did touch on a deep level -- for me it was the right movie, right day, kind of a cathartic purge of emotions watching it!

Thanks so much for your additional thoughts, enjoy the analysis!

Best wishes,

11:04 AM  
Blogger redcon1 said...

Just an FYI- The entire Let It Go sequence from the film is on You Tube now. We've played it a few times the last couple of days and it's still so very effective, even outside the theater setting.

11:35 AM  

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