Frozen

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Chris Buck Jennifer Lee

Starring

Idina Menzel Josh Gad Kristen Bell

Anticipation.

The regulation Disney Yuletide floor-filler. Coming to some sponsored Christmas Lights near you.

Enjoyment.

Great songs, slick animation, some nice revisionist touches too.

In Retrospect.

Fine, but re-watch factor negligible.

A very decent seasonal Disney feature which amply refreshes a haggard old template.

The classic Disney Princess entered a new phase of her career when the demands of mirco-scale image analysis, demographic pandering and brand visibility dragged her into the committee-driven hellstorm of the 21st Century. No longer was she able to exist in the realms of bittersweet fantasy where antiquated gender stereotypes presented her as braying, twinkle-eyed arm candy for some sword swinging hunk. Hans Christian Andersen may do much of the fancy narrative and thematic footwork, but there’s no way this story could be told with all its cultural historic baggage in tact.

Possibly taking a leaf out of the Studio Ghibli handbook for female empowerment, this latest Disney production offers a neat, unironic spin on the standard issue princess model with a story which, in essence, is about the very act of making these archetypes more palatable for modern audiences. Directed and written by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Frozen tells of two sisters, both of nobel blood, one, Elsa, is cursed with the ability to freeze everything she touches (old school Disney) and the other, Anna, is a free-spirited, impulsive, wisecracking nymph who wouldn’t have been out of place chugging boilermakers in Bridesmaids (new school Disney).

The central quest narrative sees Anna bullishly head into the snowy tundra to find her sister when, during a fit of pique, she freezes her entire township and plunges everyone into a never-ending winter. The fact that Anna reaches her goal within the first half of the film allows much second-half plot bagginess, with the swift induction of a comedy snowman drafted in to help each episode along its way.

The two male characters in the piece also represent a similar divergence between the puffy-chested hunk of fairy tales yore and the arrogant, charming lug that wouldn’t have been out of place chugging boilermakers in The Hangover. Although the film scores big for it’s subtly radical finale which, if it doesn’t quite stick two fingers up at the supposed sanctity of heterosexual partnerships, then at least gets big points for at challenging the norm.

The 3D animation is passable, with lots of effort having gone into making water and snowflakes look as photo-realistic as possible, but the overall design of the landscapes and castles sadly harks back too far to the stuffy old Disney this is trying to get away from.

Published 5 Dec 2013

Anticipation.

The regulation Disney Yuletide floor-filler. Coming to some sponsored Christmas Lights near you.

Enjoyment.

Great songs, slick animation, some nice revisionist touches too.

In Retrospect.

Fine, but re-watch factor negligible.

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