Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: Frozen

World of Blackout Film Review

Frozen (3D) Poster

Frozen (3D)
Cert: PG / 108 mins / Dir. Jennifer Lee / Chris Buck

Disney's latest seasonal offering opens with a Mickey Mouse short, Get a Horse! It's a beautiful mixture of black and white hand-drawn animation, and its modern 3D counterpart. Using the best of both worlds, it's intriguing to watch from a production standpoint, as well as being a good old-fashioned funny film. Importantly, the 3D is a part of why it works as well as it does. Featuring Walt's own voice as well as his standard-bearer, it features a layer of warm-familiarity that makes it the perfect opener.

Now, as long as you're on-board with the whole Disney Princess / Power-ballad / Comic-relief / über-family-friendly methodology, there's plenty for you to enjoy. Almost everything, perhaps. The film plays solely to Disney's strengths, taking a fairytale starting point, and adding two female protagonists and host of supporting characters. Co-director Jennifer Lee's screenplay does a great job of rounding out the two princesses, the main bonus being that we get to see more character traits than would realistically be possible with just one heroine. Anyone who's not female royalty is bound for a slightly more one-dimensional portrayal, but even then they fit so snugly into the Disney template that it doesn't matter too much.

The musical numbers are used quite sparingly (ie, it's not completely 'a musical'), and while the vocals are enough to rattle your fillings, some of the arrangements seem unusually contemporary; not that they're badly performed at all, but they can seem at odds with the sweeping, Disney Fairytale aesthetic of the film. Outside of the warbling, Frozen is as funny, charming and sickly sweet as you'd expect from the studio. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel give great performances as princesses Anna and Elsa, and are ably backed up by Jonathan Groff and Santino Fontana as their respective foils. Josh Gad brings a welcome air of silliness as Olaf the snowman, although in all fairness, the part is basic enough that quite a few actors could have filled that role comfortably. Olaf's great, but has displays as much personality as Sven the reindeer, who doesn't have any dialogue, so go figure.

The animation is everything you'd expect with today's production standards, and again it's lovely to see that meshing of old-school Disney character styling with CGI and 3D (which looks fantastic by the way, but isn't a deal-breaker). The one thing the film is lacking is a really good villain. It's true that the protagonists' struggles are more internalised than older volumes in Disney's library, but there's never any real sense of jeopardy. It makes the film an easier watch, but perhaps robs it of the depth it aims for.

While Frozen won't change any opinions, it should keep fans of The Mouse Kingdom entertained and help to snare the next generation. Although it lacks the iconic appeal of Disney's tried and trusted favourites, the film has a classical feel which should ensure its longevity in the catalogue.

Hang around 'til after the credits for an extra moment or two of icy (if slushy) goodness…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
That trailer captures the laughs, but not the feeling.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Very, very almost.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
The 3D's nice, and it looks gorgeous on a huge screen; but the overall effect will work just as well on your TV.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Not right away, but it could make its way into my Christmas rotation by next year.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard (plenty of opportunities, must try harder).

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
…so Anna never finds out that she was mind-wiped as a child and subsequently lied to for years? I can see her going off the deep-end when that one surfaces, reconciliation or not...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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