Thursday, 23 January 2014

Frozen (2013)

Two things that aren't aimed at me, a 21-year-old man: musicals and Disney stories about princesses.

One thing that shocked me with how good it was: Frozen, a Disney musical about two princesses.

Frozen is the latest in the Walt Disney studios line of animated movies, coming in the wake of 2012's Wreck It Ralph (which was great, by the way). It's been getting rave reviews pretty much unanimously, scooping up two Academy Award nominations along the way (Animated Feature Film and Music - Original Song). So after thoroughly enjoying Wreck It Ralph I thought I'd give it a shot.

Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee manage a magical blend of that classic Disney feel while keeping everything actually in the film right up to date. It's brilliant self-aware in the sense that it's aware of all the films that went before it and the messages that have been sent out by previous films. It can draw attention to changes in attitudes without criticising the old films, they were after all products of their time. There's one great line in particular that just cuts down a classic Disney trope in seconds that I won't spoil.

At it's heart though, Frozen continues the trend of centring around that most powerful of emotions: love. There's a couple of angles about true love thrown around in the film, but at it's heart this re-telling of the Ice Queen story is a story about the love shared between two sisters and what their love means for each other. The importance of family, honesty and being true to who you are are the valuable lessons that this proper, out and out family film sells.

Musicals aren't my bag at all. I'll usually groan if someone in a  film spontaneously bursts into song without me being prepared. But I knew Frozen was a musical going in so I was prepared. What I wasn't prepared for was how strong the musical numbers were. Obviously having an established Broadway star (Idina Menzel) as the icy sister gives you some solid ground to work on, but I had no idea Kristen Bell (who I'd previously only known as that girl from Veronica Mars who has a... strange relationship with sloths) could sing so well. The stand-out sequence is, obviously,  the Oscar-nominated Let It Go, but I'd urge you not to look it up and see it in its full context because it is so much better.

Frozen is just simply a great family film. It hits all the right notes with comedy and poignancy at all the right times. It's Disney on absolute top form once again.

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