Frozen (2013)

Director:  Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Cast:  Kristen BellJosh GadIdina Menzel
Plot:  Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna's sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

Genre:  Animation / Adventure
Awards:  Won 2 Oscars - Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song
Runtime:  108min
Rating:  G for some action and mild rude humor.

Can Frozen win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature this year?  I believe there is a strong case to be made with consideration for this year's slate, which to be honest has so far produced no truly exceptional animated film, except probably Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises (2013), which has not screened here yet. 

Perhaps Frozen has a more promising chance than most, because it returns to the drawing board of classic Disney movies, and emerges for the better as a sparkling old-fashioned studio picture with boundless energy, a tried-and-tested storyline and likable song-singing characters.  It is preceded by a lovely unrelated short and features a 10-second extra scene after the end credits.

Outstanding voice work, both of dialogue and singing, power the narrative economically (the setup is quick but effective), while giving enough time for character development.  Inspired by the story of ‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen sees two sisters isolated from each other since young in a castle.  They grow up, with one coronated as the queen, and the other, a princess. 

Elsa (Idina Menzel) the queen has hidden her powers from all for some time – she can freeze things, often uncontrollably.  A series of events incur the wrath of Elsa and she inadvertently causes an eternal winter in her hometown when it should have been summer.  It is up to Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa’s ordinary sister, to save the day.

Frozen is both funny and touching.  Best seen with your family, this is one of the year’s most heartwarming movies.  Kids will enjoy the songs and characters like Olaf, an optimist snowman who longs for summer.  Grownups will also give the movie the seal of approval as it evokes nostalgia of childhood, of fantasy, of fairy tales.  Try as you may, but it is difficult not to like this offering from Disney. 

I haven’t had the chance to catch The Princess and the Frog (2009) or Tangled (2010), two recent Disney hits of a similar mould, so I can’t give a legitimate comparison.  However, what I can say is that Frozen is uniformly excellent, and even if it doesn’t get the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (hopefully it loses to The Wind Rises because any other scenario is unfathomable), I’m positive it will at least score a win in the Best Original Song category.  Have fun in the cinemas!

Verdict:  A sparkling old-fashioned Disney animated movie for the better... with outstanding voice work.

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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