Saturday, February 22, 2014


Born cyrokinetic, Elsa (Idina Menzel) decides to live a life of self-imposed isolation in her room, shutting everyone out including her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) in the fear of hurting them. After the sudden death of her parents, her ability to manipulate ice is put to the test as she assumes the throne of Arendelle. Just as things start to get better again for the siblings, a petty fight ensues which provokes the newly crowned queen to manifest her uncanny ability. Labeled a sorceress and a monster by her very own people, she flees to the mountains and seeks refuge in an ice castle which she builds from scratch. Perched high on a mountainside, she finally finds the solace she is looking for, not knowing that her brash departure has cursed the kingdom to suffer an eternal winter. Eager to put things back in order, Anna sets off for the northern mountains with the help of mountain man Sven (Jonathan Groff) and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) in an effort to bring her sister, and summer, back.

Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, there really is nothing much they could do with the material other than inject the familiar Disney themes which have made their animated features successful. It is perhaps because of this that Frozen seems a bit too short, ending in just less than two hours and leaving you wanting more. In fact, the chronology of events would not span even a week, perhaps just two or three days at most, which makes character development seem a bit rushed, although the backstory extending back to their childhood would suffice to justify the rather contrived change of heart. Then again, this a family movie, and as long as it is sending the right message along with the appropriate gimmicks, then it is bound to make a killing at the tills, which it has done pretty well so far.

This is not to say, however, that Frozen disappoints. For one thing, Disney's decision to go for a musical has proven to be a good one, what with all the catchy songs included in the soundtrack, some of which have reached new heights in terms of sales and critical acclaim. Do You Want to Build a Snowman starts as a testament to the carefree days of being a child, only to end as an ode to a sisterly bond lost through time. Let It Go is nominated for an Oscar, and is making waves on YouTube as various versions in different languages begin to surface. Nevertheless, only these two seem to have made some sort of impact, with the rest easily dismissed as forgettable. Even so, the presence of such good music in the movie helps make up for most of its shortcomings.

What has become noticeable lately, perhaps, is the evolution of the animated feature as a genre, becoming more and more palatable to kids and adults alike. Casting a snowman with an obsession for summer, for example, assures that the children would be laughing all the way at the eventual mishaps, while the dialogue laced with deadpan humor would be enough to crack up the grownups in the audience. Disney itself makes a big leap by trying out a rather different formula from what they have been used to, having two princesses share the limelight instead of just one, and delegating the role of the villain to the prince who should, traditionally, be saving the day. There have been rumors that the character of Elsa was supposed to be the villain, and it is a good thing that this has not turned out to be the case. As such, the focus shifts to the bond of the two sisters, a theme which is not that hard to relate to for anyone who has been born with another sibling. Had Elsa been the typical villainess, this movie would just be added to the long list of Disney features which have failed to leave an impact.

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