A Second Disney Renaissance?
There was a time back in my heyday of the late 1980s to mid-90’s when Walt Disney Pictures was on fire. Every film coming out of their studio was enchanting and magnificent, from The Little Mermaid to Hercules, give or take a movie. Then Hollywood Animation changed in 1995 when Pixar’s Toy Story took the world by storm. It took Walt Disney Animation Studios a long time to catch up with its former partner, now subsidiary. Thankfully it finally did with Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen.
Behind It All
After doing some research, it appears that Frozen stemmed from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ice Queen and has actually been in development hell off and on since at least the 1940’s but the original subject matter made it hard to adapt to the modern age of storytelling like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. There were some attempts at revival in the early 2000s but it didn’t finally grow true legs until after the success of the aforementioned Tangled, which is of course a faithful but poignant retelling of Rapunzel. Eventually the final creative staff was selected and all systems were go. One half of Wreck-It Ralph’s screenwriting team Jennifer Lee started off as a writer but became the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios film.
What Pixar did with Finding Nemo‘s underwater effects… Disney Animation met and exceeded with snow, ice and light effects.
Visually this movie is stunning. What Pixar did with Finding Nemo‘s underwater effects (which still hold up greatly, especially in High Definition if you haven’t had the pleasure) Disney Animation met and exceeded with snow, ice and light effects. The eye candy is just as great as the memorable moments from Fellowship of the Ring‘s mountainous scenes. The characters have the great hybrid of 2D style meets 3D design which is a good change from the sometimes uncanny valley effects of Pixar’s human characters. All of the designs are distinctive which greatly aids in children’s and adults’ differentiation. Regarding the 3D visual effects I cannot speak upon as we opted to view the 2D version of the film.
This movie holds the Disney Princess tradition of memorable musical numbers. Rather than its roots being found in the first Hollywood musicals, they are in the post-modern Broadway scene. There are several songs that feel like something heard in Wicked or the like, which is very appropriate considering the talent. Writing the songs are the husband and wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, with Robert being a three-time Tony Award winner. Vocally there is the tremendous Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked) who of course has the pipes and surprise diva Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical). The rest of the singing cast are just as great. Oh and Demi Lovato did a respectable cover as a single for the film. Composer Christophe Beck really brought it with the film’s score. It is not too distracting and does a really good job under girding the scenes and story. The Nordic influences are a real treat.
The plot evokes a lot of feelings from great Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast which makes perfect sense considering their origins.
Without giving too much away, the film is based in the Kingdom of Arrendelle, which is your typical fairy tale kingdom, honestly. The plot is truly about the relationship between a big sister, Elsa, who is forced to grow up too soon and eventually cracks, and her little sister, Anna who was able to live the life of a young princess. I won’t share more than what the trailer shows. Elsa’s forced maturation is due to her needing to hide the fact that she has the power to emit ice and snow and in the response to an accident is forced to seclude herself in order to keep her family safe. This obviously creates a strain between the sisters’ relationships. The surrounding characters are just as well defined in their personalities as they are visually as aforementioned. Olaf the Snowman is actually a good comedic relief and not as annoying as the television spots suggest. Kristoff the ice dealer and Sven the reindeer are a good team and really bolster the characters. The plot evokes a lot of feelings from great Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast which makes perfect sense considering their origins.
This film definitely benefits from a theatrical experience but doesn’t use the grand presentation as a crutch like some films. That is the mark of an excellent film, especially a superb Disney film. While the living room experience is getting closer and closer to the theater, I believe this film would be just as entertaining coming from a 26 inch standard definition TV and VCR, much like its Renaissance ancestors. Whatever method you choose, you must see this film. Perfect for all ages, the magic is back.
All Frozen images and logos are owned by Disney.