Frozen

Director: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (2013)

Wrapped up in sisterly love, this snow-filled Disney animated adventure is exciting, funny and even moving – but sadly never in sufficient qualities to justify it’s being nearly two hours long.

Apparently ‘inspired’ Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, it too often evades the dark icy heart of the fairytale.

Unapproachable Elsa (Idina Menzel) is the queen with the power to create snow and ice. She is a misunderstood and feared character who falls out with her sweet and ditzy sister Anna (Kristen Bell).

After Elsa accidentally uses her power, a summer instantly turns to permanent winter. She struggles to control her own magic so she is accused of being an evil sorceress and driven away into the mountains.

It is left to Anna to trek into the wilds, reconcile Elsa with her subjects and subdue the weather.

The animation is brilliant and the ice palace building sequence will send shivers down your spine. Lighthearted comic buffoonery balances the action which mostly involve being chased downhill by ice monsters and hungry wolves.

Along the way they make friends with comedy sidekicks including a mountain man called Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer named Sven and Olaf (Josh Gad) a snowman. He’s the the most fun character on show but also the most inconsequential.

The annoying dialogue is, like, totally California teenspeak, except for Sven the reindeer, who is mute but a far from dumb animal.

The script has problems, not least the lack of a readily identifiable, hissable villain. Yes there’s a giant snow troll but the drama rests on Elsa changing her mind. A nicely dark opening chapter is followed by a long and middling middle section.

Plus Frozen has two feisty female characters but doesn’t make the most of them. We see too little of the more interesting Elsa and spend too much time with Anna contemplating her romantic interests.

 Elsa belts out the excellent song ‘Let It Go’ but two weak and unnecessary songs (yes I’m talking to you Olaf the snowman and you, tiny trolls) slow the pace and lengthen the running time.

Everything heats up for the finale and delivers the film’s heartwarming message that love is more powerful than fear. Awww.

Elements of Frozen suggests someone at Disney saw the record-breaking worldwide box office returns of the theatrical production of Wicked and decided they wanted a piece of the action.

Based on Gregory Maguire‘s novel  Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West in turn based on The Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum. The success of Wicked the show was due to tapping into the under-exploited market serving young teenage girls. Frozen methodically sets out to exploit the same rich profit seam.

Her undoubted talent notwithstanding, it’s no coincidence Idina Menzel played the role of powerful but misunderstood witch Elpheba in Wicked before playing the powerful but misunderstood witch Elsa in Frozen. Nor is it a surprise Frozen’s signature tune Let It Go could easily be slipped into the Wicked songbook. In fact more than one song could be – as the Honest Trailer recognises.

Since this review was first penned Frozen has become a global phenomenon. A sequel is on the way and of course there’s the short film Frozen Fever being shown in cinemas before Disney’s Cinderella. Which I enjoyed more.

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