DIRECTOR: CHRIS BUCK AND JENNIFER LEE
SUMMARY: Sisters Elsa and Anna, princesses of Arendelle, were the best of friends when they were kids. An accident, however, forced their parents to separate the two from each other. You see, Elsa has a secret; she has the power to make snow and ice. And this power almost killed her beloved little sister. In order to avoid a similar incident, their parents decided to hide Elsa from the rest of the world. “Conceal, do not feel,” as her father constantly reminds her. When their parents died, Elsa had to assume her rightful place as queen. For the first time since “forever”, the castle was opened to the public in time for her coronation. Careful not to reveal her secret, she did her best to hide her powers until Anna made a major announcement that caused her to reveal her true nature. From conjuring simple snowflakes, Elsa left Arendelle in eternal winter. It is up to Anna, “ice man” Kristoff, and Olaf the Snowman to save their home from frozen damnation.
- 2013 is about to end and I have not seen a really good animated film. Studio Ghibli has released a couple but I have not had the opportunity to witness its latest magic. Ah, magic. I always believe animated films should be magical. It should encourage fascination and arouse imagination. Pixar, once an invincible institution, has shown surprising chinks in its armor. “Monster University,” though an above average production, still isn’t exceptional. Now Disney, it’s traditional mother, has been churning out exceptional animated films. The honor roll includes “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” (I still maintain “Wreck-It Ralph” got robbed in the Oscars because it is better, far better than “Brave.”) “Frozen” tries to extend its splendid streak. I just need to make an important point: “Frozen” is not joining “Turbo” in its terrible company. Car-racing snails?! Really people, really.
- In our anti-heroic era, a time of celebrating – not the virtues – but the untold stories of rascals and rapscallions, “Frozen” provides us a re-imagination of the Snow Queen. Gentle princesses still have a place in our modern culture, but in the meantime, we clamor for the misunderstood miscreant. Unlike traditional antagonists, Elsa (Menzel) is not evil, for her powers though dangerous, were never meant to harm. She was forced into isolation by her own parents, a terrible fate if you ask me. Fear, not wickedness, unleashed her powers. This is rather a departure from the evil queens of movies past. Elsa is a complex character, especially when she balances her personal fears and love for Anna (Bell). I found myself rooting for her when she decided to let go of her powers upon realizing “the cold never bothered her anyway.” Great job.
- The rest of the characters pale in comparison to Elsa. Anna is the sweet kid whose memories of her sister’s powers were erased. She is the cheerful yin to her sister’s distant yang. I prefer not to discuss Prince Hans (Fontana) in order to avoid spoilers. Kristoff (Groff) is the one character I thought necessitates more fleshing out. Is he an orphan? Why is he always alone? Did he forget he has met the princesses when they were kids? Why does it feel Olaf the Snowman (Gad) has better chemistry than him? Ah, Olaf. He knows what to say in front of a girl. “Some people are worth melting for,” you perfect little snow creature. The voice actors were fantastic especially Idina Menzel and Josh Gad.
- As expected, the animation is brilliant. The magical construction of the ice castle and transformation of the Snow Queen is the best. However, the ice castle needed more architectural and interior intricacies. It fell short in its world-building. Compared to the video game world of “Wreck-It Ralph”, it is rather run-of-the-mill. Interestingly, if you look at the major characters, even the minor ones such as the reindeer, they look similar with the character designs in “Tangled.” It is rather safe to assume, the retelling of Rapunzel is the template for “Frozen.” (Look at the title: Rapunzel = Tangled; Snow Queen = Frozen). If Disney continues this trend, then the House of Mouse will most likely reach its Third Golden Age. As for the music, pop powerhouse “Let It Go” and the humdinger “In Summer” are stand-outs. The latter in particular, established Olaf as the film’s delightful scene-stealer.
- “Frozen” re-imagines Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of the Snow Queen. Despite a mediocre soundtrack and a second-rate world-building effort, it triumphs because at its heart is a beautiful account of acceptance and sisterhood. It is an affirmation that “true love” does not necessarily require a prince but rather people who have loved and respected you from the very start. Written and directed by a woman, the film puts forth a strong message on female bonding. I once read an article discussing why women will never rule the human race despite possessing higher intelligence compared to men. Scathingly, it dismisses women’s ability to cooperate with other women, hence its inability to rule. I still think the article is a reinforcement of the patriarchal system, a total dick move to reject our merits. Imagine if one day, girls the world over discover our shared sisterhood and make use of it.
- After watching “Frozen”, I rated it as “B-”. A couple of days later, I changed my mind and upgraded it to “B+”. The story grew on me and realized its take on sisterhood is really heartfelt. (I am only child and so the idea of sibling relationship is pretty much alien.) The music also grew on me, especially “Let It Go.”
- “We clamor for the misunderstood miscreant” was almost written as “The Loki Effect”. I consciously resisted because it’ll lead to an entire unrelated paragraph extolling the politesse and fine bone structure of Tom Hiddleston.