Movies: Frozen Review (or “Who’d Have Thought Kristen Bell Was Such A Good Singer?”)

So having just said in my review of Saving Mr Banks that I don’t go out of my way to see Disney films, today I went out of my way to see the first showing of the entertainment giant’s latest effort, Frozen.

Nothing like consistency then, eh?

Frozen Review: What’s It About?

Frozen – the 53rd feature-length presentation from the Disney Animation Studios –  tells the story of a fearless princess who sets off on an epic journey alongside a rugged mountain man, his loyal pet reindeer with whom he has a rather odd relationship with (some might say he’s mentally ill but I doubt that’s what they were going for) and a hapless snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

Frozen Review: Who’s In It?

Frozen features the voice talents of the likes of Kristen Bell and…er…some other people I’ve never heard of.

Frozen Review: How Highly Is It Rated?

Pretty highly. It gets 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.1 on imdb from just under 10,000 votes and it’s getting universal praise in the press.

Frozen Review: My Thoughts

I was going to say that it’s been some time since I’d seen a film from the Walt Disney Animation Studios (i.e. not Pixar), but then I realised that I actually went along to see the 52nd one – Wreck It Ralph – earlier this year.FROZN_014M_G_ENG-GB_70x100.indd

Certainly it’s the first musical one I’ve seen from Disney at the cinema in a hell of a long time. We’re talking The Lion King almost 20 years ago.

So it was an interesting change.

I mean, sure, the plots of these Disney films are straight out of a cookie-cutter mould, with the basic format being “Protagonist goes on adventure with some kind of loveable/wacky sidekick”, and this was no different.

But that’s ok; I enjoyed it. The plot moved along at a reasonably brisk pace, the characters were all likeable and there were plenty of funny moments, with jokes for both the adults and children in the audience to enjoy. I actually found myself chuckling quite a lot through it – thanks in particular to Olaf the Snowman – which was a nice surprise.

And of course it had the usual soppy ending that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy.

It did have issues, in particular with the left-field reveal of the villain out of nowhere, but these can be forgiven.

Plot and dialogue aside though, there was also plenty more to enjoy.

For example, the songs were all pretty catchy and I was bowled over by how good a singer Kristen Bell actually is. During the film I felt the need to look up online whether it was her singing or whether Disney had replaced her for the songs with one of their Mousewitz slaves, but it was her, and she was excellent.

I did find it amusing though that a wholesome Disney flick featured a song about how it’s ok to break up a couple who are engaged to be married because they haven’t made their relationship official yet. That seemed to tip over the edge of immortality in a way you wouldn’t expect.

The other aspect I would go out of my way to praise is the animation, which was stunning. I’ve never seen ice drawn in such a realistic way. Honestly, you have to see it to believe how good it is; comfortably the most advanced animation I’ve ever seen. My brother loves water and ice effects in video games as they are often the hardest parts to do well; he’d be in heaven watching this.

Anyway, Frozen also comes with a fantastic support act in the form of a new Mickey Mouse animated short at the start called “Get A Horse”.

What starts off as a very old-fashioned black & white Mickey Mouse cartoon from the Steamboat Willie age – it’s presented in 4:3 ratio and even has Walt Disney doing the voice – comes with a twist. What is the twist? Well I wouldn’t want to spoil it for those who plan on going along to see it, because it’s a nice little surprise. And it makes great use of the 3D in which Frozen is presented.

It’s a bit strange that Disney have put this Mickey Mouse cartoon on first with no fanfare at all – I read earlier that it’s the equivalent of going to a Michael Buble concert and finding out Dean Martin is the support act – but that’s the decision Disney made. I imagine some people would pay to see Frozen just so they could see Get a Horse.

I’ve attached a preview clip below.

Frozen Review: Final Thoughts

Combining the best 3D animation of the present day with the traditional feel of a Disney Musical rarely seen since the 1990s, I found Frozen to be a surprisingly enjoyable film.

It’s not the best film I’ve seen all year by any means, but for its genre it was impressive.

Definitely one to see if you have the time, or have kids that need entertained for a couple of hours.

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