***UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016:***
I originally published this post in December 2013, right after Frozen came out.
It made some people really mad. People felt the need to defend Frozen with their Internet lives.
So I took it down, because obviously the trolls cared more than I did.
It’s 2016 now; hopefully, some of the hostility has melted and we can agree that Frozen represents a well- loved Disney movie. Maybe you think it’s the best Disney movie of all time. Maybe you don’t. But this is what I think.
Disney made a Barbie movie.
2013 | 1 hr 48 minutes | Dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee | Disney
Kevin Fallon at The Daily Beast called Frozen “the best Disney film since the Lion King.”
I would call The Lion King one of the best movies every made. So I went into Frozen thinking it would be on par with one of the best movies ever made.
Frozen follows the formula established by Tangled (Disney’s version of Rapunzel) and The Princess and the Frog. This installment comes from Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Snow Queen”, about a girl trying to save her friend from the namesake character.
Disney’s version makes the two main characters sisters: Anna and Elsa, princesses of Arendelle. Elsa can create snow and ice, but a childhood accident makes her ashamed of her powers. Anna grows up ignorant of her sister’s gift. After the girls’ parents die in a sea storm, Arendelle crowns Elsa the new queen.
Coronation day proves disastrous. Anna meets the studly Hans, who sweeps her off her feet and fulfills all her dreams of falling in love at first sight. But when she asks Elsa for her blessing, the queen erupts in an icy rage and traps Arendelle in a freezing blizzard. She flees to the North Mountain. Anna vows to bring her sister back and end the winter.
Frozen is a glorified Barbie movie. Ice and snow textures look spectacular with the help of 3D animation; characters take more effort. Textures on skin and in the ballroom scene look plastic. The artists paid tons of attention to Anna and Elsa, and their garments flow beautifully across the screen. Check out the contrast between them and the guests in the background.
Attention to detail used to set Disney apart. On Frozen, it looked like they felt more comfortable with cutting corners.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a six- year- old girl anymore, or because I’ve already seen every Disney movie twenty times and I’ve had the “love conquers all” lesson drilled into my brain. But that’s all Frozen has. The Princess and the Frog had a hardworking heroine, Tangled had a sheltered girl struggling with mommy issues, and Frozen has sister love. The exact kind of sister love, in fact, last seen in Aquamarine. Yea. That’s right. It’s NOT the most original twist in the universe.
On a lighter note, I loved Olaf, Disney’s “funny sidekick” character. Josh Gad voices an adorable snowman who dreams of summer sunshine. He fills each scene with warmth and reminds us that some stereotypes are still delightful.
Frozen features a few twists that Disney probably found creative but that seem as predictable as the next word in Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s songs. The husband- and- wife duo famous for penning The Book of Mormon wrote the music for this movie. All the centerpiece songs sound typically sweet- and safe. Kristen Bell does an amazing job voicing Ana. Love Kristen Bell.
Frozen delivers family fun, a heartwarming message and plenty of winter- appropriate visuals. Families flocked to see the film over opening weekend. But because of Disney’s reliance on a formula, I see Frozen melting away.
It’s not the Lion King.