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  Frozen Cold Hands Warm Heart
Year: 2013
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Stars: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds, Stephen J. Anderson, Maia Wilson, Edie McClurg, Robert Pine, Maurice LaMarche, Livvy Stubenrauch, Eva Bella, Spencer Lacey Ganus, Jesse Corti, Jeffrey Marcus
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Animated, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the Kingdom of Arendelle, there were two little princesses who loved to play, but one had a special talent she was born with: Elsa had control over ice which she could make spontaneously appear even on a warm, sunny day. Her younger sibling Anna was enchanted by this and encouraged Elsa to use her abilities whenever she could, particularly enjoying when they sneaked off to the ballroom after bedtime and created their own, small, personal winter wonderland. However, one night it all went horribly wrong when Anna got into an accident and was struck in the head by one of her sister's frozen rays. After a visit to the trolls who cured her, the King and Queen determined Elsa should be kept away from everyone in the palace - but Anna, whose memory was wiped, couldn't understand why.

After the double whammy of Disney movies in Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph which were not only critical successes but went on to create masses of profits from enthusiastic audiences as well, there happened along an even bigger hit. With a mix of the traditional (songs and archetypes) and the newfangled (wholly computer crafted) Frozen became the biggest animated movie of all time, breaking box office records around the world, and it wasn't because they had appealed to the lowest common denominator either for here was a cartoon with heart, soul and humour, creating a new star in the animation globe, Jennifer Lee. She had worked on the script to Ralph and demonstrated her adept touch at three-dimensional characterisation which would include moments to appeal to the emotions and equally gags that were authentically funny.

Lee penned the screenplay for Frozen, and shared directing duties with Chris Buck, but if by the sound of it this appealed solely to little girls, then watching the movie could dispel that notion with a truly universal interest thanks to its themes as well as its good nature. She was keen to stress the sister angle to her story, which could be summed up as Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen: The Early Years, so that females who were siblings with all the complicated reactions that entailed could find something aimed at them and recognise how well crafted and observed it was with its complexities of love and resentment. Elsa resents Anna, now they have grown up, since Anna is able to live in society in a way Elsa's gift prevents her from doing, while Anna just wanted her sister to get out and mingle.

Unaware as she was of the real reason Elsa (now voiced by Adele Dazeem - er, that is, Idina Menzel) is unable to face the world, though we can understand there is a great deal of affection beneath their exteriors which remains untapped since the elder princess is essentially shut away. After their parents die, it's time for the coronation and Elsa to become Queen, but one thing leads to another and what do you know, she's only gone and sent the land into an eternal winter after Anna (Kristen Bell) told her she wanted to be married to Hans (Santino Fontana) who she has fallen hard for after meeting him that afternoon. There were elements of the popular superhero craze in post-millennium movies to be detected in Frozen, only the superpower of the Queen was a curse which made her feared and fearful, seeing the sole way to deal with it being not to deal with anyone at all.

Of course, the worse Elsa feels the worse the situation gets: if she didn't feel anything at all she'd find it far easier to cope, which was poignant in itself. But this wasn't ninety minutes of the Snow Queen moping, there were many moments of irreverent humour too, thanks to the other love interest Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) whose occupation is gathering ice, which may mean he's redundant now and has loyal reindeer for company, but especially the snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) who has been brought to life by Elsa almost absent-mindedly, and wants to find out what a really hot summer feels like, amusingly oblivious of the jeopardy. The directors found a wealth of things to do with Olaf, but don't dismiss Kristoff who in his way is as isolated as Elsa which may be why he appeals to Anna in a love triangle. The Queen was meant to be villainous originally, but this was a far richer experience when she was so sympathetic, paradoxically fragile and too strong; there was a baddie, but they represented those who made matters worse by capitalising on fear, making this ultimately all the more heartwarming.

[The Disney Region 2 DVD has an excellent new Mickey Mouse cartoon as an extra, also directed by a woman, fact fans.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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