Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn


On Tuesday, December 17th, we went to see "Frozen" the new Disney animated film. It is properly labeled as "Inspired by Han Christian Andersen's 'The Snow Queen'", since it is an entirely different story, although the roots can be seen if you know Andersen.*

That said, it's a very good movie, and we enjoyed it a lot. The picture is designed for 3-D and has lots of computer generated graphics to give three-dimensional shape effects, even for the people, which puts it a bit into the "uncanny valley" for me--. Seeing the cartoony designed characters, including the anime-eyed princesses, looking 3-D just seems strange to me. However, as I got involved with the story, I got used to it.

The plot concerns the two princesses of a northern European-style kingdom-perhaps something equivalent to Finland, since there are reindeer. The elder, Elsa (voice by Idina Menzel), was born with uncanny powers over cold, ice, and snow. This delights her younger sister, Anna (Kristin Bell), since they can play in snow any time, even in the castle ballroom in summer. When Anna is accidentally injured by Elsa's power while playing, their parents' over-reaction drives Elsa into a life of fearful isolation and causes a seemingly unbridgeable rift between the sisters. Elsa's mantra "don't feel, conceal," as she tries to hide her power rather than learning to deal with it, strikes a deep chord: she is every adolescent trying to hide the fact that he or she is, or feels, "different."

Of course things can't go on this way, and the traumatic incident when the truth comes out sets up the rest of the drama of the story, which is simple, but nicely done and with a couple of good plot twists. As typical for a Disney fairy-tale adaptation, it has songs, which are generally OK. Most were a bit too "pop" for my taste, but when I see a "costume drama" I instinctively expect to hear music that goes with the ambiance a bit more. The best song is Elsa's "Let It Go," in which she attempts to bid farewell to her former life and embrace her new, even more solitary, existence as the Snow Queen.

There is the obligatory funny sidekick character, Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) brought to life as a side effect of Elsa's power, who isn't too annoying, and has a poignant musical number in which he wonders what the wonders of summer would be like. On the other hand, the animal sidekick, Kristoff's reindeer, Sven, is quite charming, especially when Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is talking for both of them.

I must say that the Disney scripters could give some lessons to other action-movie writers: there is an action-filled crisis sequence at the climax of the movie which is fast-paced and NOT TOO LONG, unlike the forty-five minute battles that seem to conclude most adventure films these days.

The movie also is pretty to look at, with the capital city and palace being very nice, and the number, variety, and believability of the ice and snow effects impressive. I was particularly struck by the opening sequence with the ice harvesters. It's a nice setting piece, and the ice blocks are limpidly clear.

"Frozen" has justly earned is box-office success and critical acclaim, and is well worth seeing a second time.

*If you do want to see a good adaptation of "The Snow Queen" in film, I highly recommend the 1957 Russian version. Good animation for its day, beautiful design, and the English dub had a good voice cast. I saw this as a child, and it has stuck with me as much as the Disney "Snow White" or other classics have.

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