There’s a lot to be said about Disney’s latest offering, some people saying it is the beginning of a new golden age for the studios, others saying its awful. But everyone agrees, the trailers are not to be trusted!
Elsa, a princess of a far away kingdom, has the power to control and create snow and ice, and is locked away by her parents after accidentally striking her sister Anna. But when it is her time to take the throne years later, her powers overwhelm her and the land becomes gripped in an eternal winter. Anna must rescue her fleeing sister from her own self-doubt with the aid of a prince, a commoner and a reindeer!
I’m not going to lie, I’ll be straight with you; seeing this film’s initial poster (a Snowman with buck teeth wearing a rubber ducky life ring?) and the trailers (all focusing on Olaf the snowman) I… I thought it looked cringe-worthy and saccharine.
Whether intentional or not, this had lowered my expectations and the sudden critical acclaim it received got me very interested.
The film is not about a high-pitched snowman bringing back summer. It is a surprisingly developed, character driven story rotating around our two brave female protagonists Anna and Elsa. Anna is a socially inept goof with a heart of gold, personable, honest and kind, while Elsa (the older sister) has these qualities, her banishment has warped her sense of place in the world, and it all comes down to how she copes with her powers.
The first act of the film will likely lose the youngest audience members immediately (Olaf from the trailer doesn’t appear for half the running time) and this is down to a surprisingly grim setting. Think of Pixar’s UP and you have a vague idea. It feels a little clustered too with its story-telling, as if it is cramming all the exposition so it can go onto other story arcs.
Unfortunately this lingers throughout the film; arcs and plots and entire scenes feel a little sudden and badly segway together.
But while the plot slips and slides about frantically and it feels like backstories are left out in the cold, Frozen looks gorgeous. Naturally Disney has put all their effort into the ice effects, making shards and spikes and snowflakes look delicate and cold.
It is also… wait for it… a very good musical. Yes, I said it. While not technically a musical it does have a lot of songs, but I am happy to admit I didn’t have a problem with any of them! Which is extremely rare for me (A Nightmare Before Christmas probably being the only other one?)
So we have a lot of songs and two leading ladies, is Frozen a girl’s film then? Certainly from the subtext and the two sisters’ stories, it will resonate best with girls I’d imagine? But I loved the character of commoner Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, he has his moments of biting realism with these manic girls. And Sven, well… of course the reindeer is the best character!
I’d recommend it to everyone, frankly! It stumbles a bit with backstory and its story progression, but don’t be too scared of the songs, and don’t heed what the trailer’s are selling you (they are selling it to the kiddies) Olaf the snowman is not that bad either. It is a great winter film!
Additional Marshmallows: The film is based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and as a tribute, three of the film’s lead characters are called Hans, Kristoff and Anna.