Movie Review: 'Frozen'
The film finally achieves what Disney had been trying in the last two decades -- it finds the right balance between the nostalgia of the old Disney films and characters and forging some new ground into narrative and style.
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Alan Tudyk
Since Disney bought Pixar, two things have happened -- the Disney films have become better and better while the Pixar films have become significantly worse. Whether you take that as a blessing in disguise for Disney or as a tragedy for Pixar is up to you, but with Frozen one thing is for certain: Disney is back in a big way. Without a doubt, Frozen is Disney’s most visually spectacular and enjoyable film since 1994’s 'The Lion King'. It’s certainly not as good as the latter but it is way better than 2010’s Tangled.
The film finally achieves what Disney had been trying in the last two decades -- it finds the right balance between the nostalgia of the old Disney films and characters and forging some new ground into narrative and style. Plus as a bonus, you get to see an amazing Mickey Mouse 3D short film before the movie begins.
Like most Disney films, the plot contains a kingdom, a princess, a mysterious handsome prince, an everyman of a hero, ‘true love’, a curse, half a dozen songs, quirky perpetually smiling good-natured side characters, not-so-subtle life lessons and lots of ice.
Every element of Frozen has been done before but directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee find that sweet spot between a throwback and the contemporary, thanks to some great characters, dialogues and truly outstanding visuals, demonstrating that good writing always makes for a good animation film.
What makes Frozen so refreshingly different from the rest of the Disney cannon is that the filmmakers challenge the viewers’ expectations and as a result there is no central antagonist in the film. There are no evil Wazirs or shady sorcerers or witches to make the hero fight against.
Instead, Frozen plays out like a fun character-based comedy-drama with a tinge of adventure thrown in. And surprisingly, it works this time, despite the fact that a similar tactic used by Pixar in Brave failed. More importantly, for the first time in years, a Disney movie managed to pass the Bechdel test. The lack of a villain is counterbalanced by a terrific voice cast including Kristin Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Alan Tudyk -- because they aren’t big stars so it enables you to invest in their characters rather than constantly and jarringly be reminded that a recognizable big movie star is voicing some computer puppet.
The filmmakers also subvert the old good-versus-evil storytelling method with a grown up, almost existentialist sensibility. There’s plenty of jaw dropping large-scale animation, which is not terrible in 3D but will most definitely be better in 2D. This has been a pretty very weak year for CGI animation movies and Disney shows them all who the boss is. Watch it on the most gigantic screen that you can find.