Walt Disney Studios. Hans Christian Anderson. Chris Buck. Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and a voice cast full of talent and experience. It’s almost a kids’ Christmas blockbuster by numbers. Yet something isn’t quite right.
The character design for the two lead females – Anna (Bell) and her older ice-cursed sister Elsa (Menzel) – is superb. They’re fantastically realised and will be great additions to the Disney princess catalogue I’m sure. Outside of these though, the men are beyond generic. Indeed, Kristoff – the man of the mountain who helps Anna in her quest to find Elsa – could just be an extension of Flint from Tangled, complete with wisecracking animal sidekick Sven. The award for worst design goes to Olaf the snowman. This is a shame because he is responsible for some of the film’s biggest laughs, the best of which is the song “In Summer” – a song about how much he longs to experience the joys of the hot season. It’s undermined because he looks like a cheaply produced character from the early days of digital 3D animation.
The music is also, largely, a let down; bland and forgettable. I remember liking the opening song and the Olaf song (as mentioned earlier), but it’s a far cry from when I first watched Aladdin or The Lion King and was singing the songs for days. Only one song has a chance of going down as a classic and that’s “Let It Go”, sung by Menzel. It was the only serious song of any quality, but whether that’s enough to stand the test of time remains to be seen.
Despite this, one thing that distracted me was Menzel’s voice. She is in possession of one of the best singing voices to grace musical theatre in the last twenty years but the character she is playing, by my best guess, is about 21 years of age. Menzel is 42 and it must be said that when she is belting out the songs, she sounds like she’s 42. Not that any of the kids in the theatre would have noticed. I must reiterate that her voice is outstanding and she nails the songs, but there are plenty of great young female singers out there that could have done a tremendous job. It baffles me why they made this choice.
If there’s one thing the film should be applauded for, it’s pulling off the difficult task of finding space to develop not one but two extremely strong female lead characters. It would have been very easy to let one of them fall into the background but they do get the balance right. This is important move for the Disney merchandising departments, with a predominantly boy-centric year coming up in 2014 (Both Big Hero 6 and Star Wars VII will dominate the big screens next year).
Overall, the film ticks all the boxes and the younger generation will be thoroughly entertained throughout. In comparison to the non-Disney animated features that have been released in 2013 it wipes the floor, but this isn’t any old studio. It’s Disney, and we’ve come to expect much much more.
If you want to find some real Disney magic, then you’ll get that before the main feature itself. Get A Horse! Is a fantastic short film, featuring Mickey, Minnie and Peg Leg Pete. It’s a mixture of black and white and colour, 2D and 3D, and it mixes them to good effect. It’s seriously entertaining, fast-paced stuff and only served to underline so much that was missing from Frozen.
Frozen is released in cinemas in the UK on 6th December 2013.