Having based my senior thesis in college on the works of Walt Disney, I used to be one of the worst people to see Disney movies with. I’d sit there and openly discuss how the movie is either racist, homophobic or sexist and if you just wanted to enjoy the movie in peace… um, tough. Fortunately, I’ve mellowed out over the years.
I’m also a firm supporter of classic hand drawn animation and get a little disheartened by all the 3D animated films that keep being released by not only Disney but all the other animation companies. However, when news of Frozen came out, I had a flicker of hope. It seemed to be a solid adventure film with beautiful animation and a solid list of voice actors. Even though the trailer left much to be desired, I still pushed my boyfriend to take me to see it until he finally caved.
Having seen it now, I sit on the fence unsure of which way to fall. The film is undoubtedly beautiful. The colors the animators used to decorate this “frozen” kingdom are wonderful and the use of ice as a motif was done very well. The way ice was used in the architecture of Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) castle was gorgeous, the effects of her ice magic being displayed was also done very well, and for most of the film I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.
The characters themselves are also nicely designed and the stock characters come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors which was refreshing to see. It was nice not having to see a ballroom scene with hundreds of model-like beauties spinning around the room. Instead, you have women and men of various ages, heights, and structure and though the two female leads are absolutely gorgeous, I would argue that they do have characteristics that make them a bit more relatable appearance-wise (Anna, for example, voiced by Kristen Bell, has a slightly fuller face with freckles).
The soundtrack is always the anchor for any animated Disney movie, but this one was unfortunately lacking. I had been told before seeing Frozen that the songs rival those of Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin which excited me, but I was sadly disappointed by the untruth of this claim. While it did sport a relatively strong number with “Let It Go,” sung by Idina Menzel, the song was still very reminiscent of Wicked. The obligatory love song (“Love is an Open Door”) shared in the beginning by Anna and Hans (Santino Fortana) was a bit silly and while I understand it’s a Disney film, I felt the song was a bit out of place. The rest seem like throwaway songs (though, I have to admit I really enjoyed “Do You want to Build a Snowman,” and now sing it to my boyfriend despite the looks he gives me).
Now, the biggest disappointment which has me leaning off the fence and onto the “I didn’t it” side is the film’s lack of actual plot and story as well as lack of any real character development. While this is an adventure film and the plot is for Anna and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to stop Elsa’s neverending Winter, something feels missing. It’s not as epic as the film wants you to think it is and the payoff at the end doesn’t quite give you the punch you’re waiting for. The climax and resolution of the film comes off as a bit underwhelming and as the credits rolled I felt myself wondering what had actually happened. It’s arguable that the film also lacks a true villain so we’re not able to really get the kind of payoff at the end that we have been looking for.
I was, however, happy that the “moment that saves everything” wasn’t what you would normally expect (trying to keep this spoiler free). And the film, with all its flaws, did try really hard to present two strong, independent female characters and I respect that.
Still, I couldn’t bring myself to love Frozen even though I wanted to. With future films, Disney needs to be careful with where its priorities lie. It’s great to have visually stunning art, but if you start lacking in the story and script department you’re going to produce emotionally frozen films that fall flat on their faces onto the ice.