Film review: Disney’s Frozen

Disney’s 53rd Animated Classic, Frozen is the story of Anna and her older sister, crown princess Elsa, who has some pretty unique talents. Following a catastrophic incident, the kingdom of Arendelle is plunged into perpetual winter, and Anna sets out to save the day, with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his genial reindeer Sven in tow.

Kristen Bell’s Anna is a charmingly clumsy and overexcitable heroine, a natural successor to Rapunzel from the team that created Tangled. Like her predecessor, she’s open-hearted and generous. While she’s accompanied by a man for much of her adventure, she mostly ends up bailing him out of trouble (perhaps it’s no coincidence that a female co-director, Jennifer Lee, came on board during production – having written the screenplay). Gruff ice salesman Kristoff, whose business is somewhat scuppered by the eternal freeze, is done great justice by the always excellent Jonathan Groff, but was really crying out for a big musical number of his own.

Idina Menzel crafts a perfect Elsa, whose triumphant declaration of independence Let It Go is the gut-wrenching pinnacle of the soundtrack. Featuring a score by Christophe Beck and songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, as a whole it actually reminded me a little of Wicked with its memorable but not exactly catchy tunes and piercing crescendos (I always think there are musicals where you can sing along and ones where you feel like you should leave it to the professionals – this is one of the latter). In fact, Elsa’s story arc is not entirely unlike Elphaba’s, which is possibly one of the reasons Menzel feels so right for the part.

One of Frozen‘s real strengths is the way it delightedly doles out the unexpected, from a summer-obsessed sentient snowman, Olaf, to a couple of surprising twists that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling. As a whole, it’s quite an intense offering, with a number of dark themes and scary moments, so Olaf’s sudden appearance in a cloud of goofy light relief – Josh Gad channeling a chaotic mixture of Patton Oswalt, Jesse Corti and Sarah Silverman – is very welcome.

If Anna was straight out of Tangled, the storytelling was very much in the spirit of woefully under-appreciated gem Wreck-it Ralph. It’s really an ensemble piece – the posters, featuring all the main characters, make that abundantly clear –  and all the better for it. A whirlwind of comedy, drama, action adventure and love story, Frozen simultaneously goes back to Disney’s roots in classic fairy tales (this time Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen) while ripping up the rule book on how those stories should be told. And of course, the animation is more gorgeous than ever. Seeing it in 3D is by no means essential, but it does add an even more breathtaking element to Elsa’s spectacular ice sculpting.

Verdict from me: A definite thumbs up for adults and especially kids of 5-11, who’ll enjoy the fast pace and humour. There are some intense moments, including some snarling wolves and a hulking ice monster, which might be a bit much for the younger types and those of a more sensitive disposition.

Verdict from Ramona (aged 3): That was really good. Olaf was really funny! And I like the bit where Anna goes “cold, cold, cold!”. But I didn’t like the scary snow monster. I really liked it, but I don’t want to see it again, because of the monster bits. [It was her first ever visit to the cinema, and she does get scared quite easily.]

Frozen UK trailer:

Olaf’s In Summer:

Disclaimer: I was invited along with Ramona to an advance screening of Frozen in Leicester Square today. We were given tickets to the film plus enjoyed some activities and treats beforehand, as well as a performance of Let It Go from Willemijn Verkaik, who is the Dutch Elsa and is also starring in Wicked in the West End. My opinion of the film is my own, and I was not paid for writing this.

Frozen is on general release in the UK from the 6th of December.