Review: Icy sentimentality in 'Frozen'

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Dec 10 2013 11:31 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2013 12:39 AM

Olaf the Snowman in a scene from "Frozen"

The latest Disney opus "Frozen" is based on the Hans Christian Andersen's complex tale "The Snow Queen."

In that dark story, two close friends named Kai and Gerda were separated when splinters of an enchanted troll mirror enters Kai's eyes and heart and makes him hate everything around him. The Snow Queen kisses the boy, making him forget Gerda and his family, and takes him to her frozen palace.

Gerda risks all odds to locate Kai and when she finds him, her warm tears of love melts the shards of mirror from Kai's heart and eyes, and releases him from the Snow Queen's spell.

But "Frozen" is nothing like that story at all. From the original, we only get the ice palace, someone's heart getting frozen and needing true love to be saved. The story spun from these elements is a wholly original tale about two royal sisters. One, Elsa, had a wonderful but dangerous power to create ice and wintry weather. The other one, Anna, being normal, had been kept in the dark about her sister's power following a near-tragic accident, so the two had been estranged since childhood.

Several years later, at Elsa's coronation day as Queen, Anna meets and is swept off her feet by the charming Prince Hans. However, Elsa suddenly has to flee her kingdom when her powers are inadvertently revealed to the public during the ceremony. Anna goes out to search for her sister. Along the way, she meets a kind ice-maker Kristoff, his hardy reindeer Sven, and a talking snowman named Olaf who join her on her quest. Can Anna find her sister, mend their relationship, discover true love in time, and save their kingdom from the eternal winter that envelops it?

The visuals of the wintry wonderland where this animated film is set were fantastically rendered. That part where Elsa was building her palace of ice was a most wondrous and spectacular scene that will inspire awe.

On the debit side however, delightful as how his character may have been written, I did not like the way they drew the face of Olaf the snowman. (Truth to tell, when I first saw Olaf and his corny goofy look in the trailer, I almost did not want to watch the whole film.)

Aside from the visuals, the aural experience in this film is likewise grand. The song that accompanied Elsa's emancipation entitled "Let It Go" was breathtaking as sung by the incomparable Idina Menzel. This was easily the best and most memorable song of the film. Many of the songs, like Anna's "For the First Time in Forever," were Broadway-esque, sweeping and romantic. The Trolls (who raised Kristoff) and Olaf have featured quirky songs of their own. Though cute, these songs seemed melodically out of place from the other songs.

The fact that this film had two female heroines will make this film appeal more to the young female demographic. The story line of sisterly love and devotion is also a novel approach that makes this production stand out from the other Disney classics. Elsa is an incredible character with a unique and interesting predicament because of the powers she possessed. It would have been better I think if the film centered more on Elsa than on Anna. 8/10

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."