Review: Frozen

I’ve seen Frozen at least ten times. Not because it’s good, which is something I’ll get into in my review, but because my nieces cannot stop watching it. okay, onto the review.

Frozen is one of those movies that you desperately want to be great. You watch it and you tell yourself “This will get better, this will live up to the hype. Let it go isn’t that bad of a song.” Unfortunately, none of that is true.

As an animated film Frozen hits all the notes that make films like it successful. The songs are catchy, the acting is decent, and the animation is absolutely gorgeous. But, somehow, it still doesn’t register as good. And the reasons for that are simple.

The fact that the songs are catchy doesn’t disguise the fact that they’re also woefully generic. only two of the songs are memorable enough that they make me want to watch the film again, and neither of those are the Oscar nominated “Let it go”. “Let it go” is a song specifically made to be played on the radio. It’s reasonably good, it gets stuck in your head pretty easily, and it’s not hard to remember the words, but it’s not big, not in the way a song in a Disney film that’s garnered this much praise should be. And that’s a detriment to the film itself. It’s also a shame, because Idina Menzel has shown in previous roles that she can go big (“Defying Gravity”, anyone?). When your big song doesn’t even let your Broadway star belt it out, there’s something wrong with your big song. Before this starts to look like a rant against “Let it go”, I should talk about the songs I do like.

The first is “Fixer Upper”: this is my favorite song in the whole movie. It’s everything that a memorable Disney song should be, big, catchy, and actually good. “Fixer Upper” is sung by kristoff’s troll family, and it’s upbeat, joyous, and adorable. I really found myself unable to do anything but sing along to it. The fast lyrics are fitting for the characters dripping with personality, and it’s really a shame that this is the only ensemble song in the film, because with a few more, this film would be elevated from mediocre to great. This song is up there with “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” in my book.

The second is “In Summer”: sung by the sometimes insufferable snowman Olaf, “In Summer” is equal part uplifting and comedic. You really can’t help but laugh at the fact that a snowman is singing about frolicking in a meadow in full sunlight. And the fact that his dream is unattainable (and it is revealed later that he knows this) adds a surprising element of pathos to his character. the song makes his character a snowman, into one of the most genuine characters in the film. I think this song gets far less praise than it deserves.

Next up, the characters.

Kristen Bell has been one of my favorite actresses since Veronica Mars and I’m happy to see her in such a big role. She absolutely shines in Frozen. As Anna, Elsa’s sister, Bell gives an excellent performance. She perfectly voices Anna’s mixture of innocence and (sometimes) arrogance. And she manages to match Idina Menzel’s powerful vocals with her own, which was a complete shock to me. As a character, Anna honestly doesn’t bring much to the table, she’s kind of a mixture of previous Disney princesses, mostly Belle and Ariel. However, Kristen Bell adds a nuance to her character that I feel Anna doesn’t live up to. Of course, that could be my bias speaking.
Idina Menzel is excellent, as usual, as Elsa. Elsa is a strange example of a protagonist. She’s not featured that heavily in the film, so her big number falls a little flat. We don’t really learn much about Elsa at all. She’s the classic Tortured soul type, forced to ostracize her sister because of her power, and that really comes through in Menzel’s performance. You can tell how much her power has hurt her, and in her isolation, we also see how much it empowers her. it’s a shame that such an interesting character got so little screen time over all.   
Jonathan Groff actually surprised me in this film. I’m not a huge fan of his acting style, but I didn’t hate him as Kristoff. He’s got a great singing voice, as we know, and he brings a lot to the character. Kristoff is an orphan, raised by trolls, and heavily attached to his reindeer, Sven. Kristoff and Sven actually have a great amount of chemistry. And, although he speaks for Sven, you can actually see a friendship in their silent interactions. Kristoff is a very real character, and Jonathon Groff really helps to jump off a great base and add even more depth to him with his voice.
Now I want to talk about the animation.
The film is entirely computer generated, but it’s done Beautifully. It doesn’t have the feel of a Computer Generated film, and if you close your eyes, you can almost see the film as hand drawn in your mind. That’s not to say that I like it any less because of the form of animation they chose. Computer animation adds an element of depth to the film that just wouldn’t have been there of it was drawn by hand, in both the literal, and figurative sense. You can almost feel the snow as the characters make their way through it, and the colors, though exaggerated, ring true. Especially notable is the animated sequence that accompanies Elsa’s big number “Let it Go”. The way the character flows on screen, and the use of ice in her movements, is beautifully cohesive. Elsa almost seems like a real person.
Overall, I would recommend the film to a select few people. The musical aspect isn’t for everyone, I know, but I’m one who usually likes it, and it didn’t feel right for this film. The story was perfectly fine on its own, and most of the musical numbers felt tacked on. I stand by my opinion that “Let it go” is the worst thing about this film, and I might get a lot of grief for it, but so be it. 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, “Fixer Upper” is stuck in my head again, I’m gonna go give it another listen.
 

 

 

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