On Unreality, we feature Disney Princesses practically every other damn day because there seems to be an infinite amount of fan art/redesigns/costumes/etc. based on the childhood characters most of us grew up with. But rarely do we ever actually see a new Disney Princess movie, maybe one every few years at most.
Disney has been determined not to let its princess roots wither, even though Pixar is now their main moneymaker when it comes to animated films. A few years ago they went back to traditional animation for The Princess and the Frog, and made the leap to CGI with the shockingly great Tangled. Frozen is yet another new era princess tale, this time with two princesses for the price of one.
The story is bits and pieces of fairy tales strung together into a simple, but enjoyable narrative. Two sisters are orphaned when their parents, the king and queen are lost at sea. Anna loves her older sister Elsa, but as they grow up, Elsa remains locked in her room, refusing to ever come out and play. Anna doesn’t remember, but it’s not because Elsa is some sort of batty shut-in, it’s because when playing in their youth, she accidentally almost killed Anna with her uncontrollable ice powers.
Anna had her life saved by forest trolls, but was forced to forget all about her sister’s powers, and grows up feeling rejected with no explanation. The gates of the city remain locked so Elsa doesn’t accidentally freeze the whole city.
Until she does.
On her coronation day, Elsa loses her cool when Anna announces she’s getting engaged to a visiting prince she just met. Elsa flees to the mountains and creates a brutal storm that buries the entire countryside in ice and snow. Anna puts her new fiancee in charge of the town while trekking across the frozen landscape to talk some sense into her sister, and discovers she needs the mountain climbing aid of traveling ice salesman, Kristoff, and his reindeer pal.
It’s a little frustrating to see Anna immediately fall into every dumb princess trope in existence within the first ten minutes of the movie. The second the gates open, she’s dancing around the halls, ecstatic that some man might come and sweep her off her feet. When he does just that, she turns into a clumsy doofus, because everyone knows you can’t be pretty and poised at the same time. You have to trip over things.
Eventually the film moves out of this rut and the story becomes about the relationship between the two sisters, with the love story taking somewhat of a backseat. Like Tangled, the film goes back to the Disney roots of having musical numbers, but there are few memorable songs to be sung. The best sequence of the movie, however, is one where Elsa sings as she assembles a palace of pure ice all around her.
If there’s a star of the show here, it’s the animation team who has produced absolutely incredible ice and snow effects to the point where the film is practically a tech demo for how far computer animation has come. The film is gorgeous, it’s just that the story is only so-so.
Anna’s banter with Kristoff is funny, and I actually liked Josh Gad voicing a snowman named Olaf who blissfully looks forward to summer, unaware of what heat does to snow (a character who looked to be irritating in the trailer). But with that said, the final product is a lot rougher than Tangled. That film flowed while this one stutters at times. The finale has a plot twist that’s fairly predictable, but works well enough for the story, I suppose. I thought they were going in a different direction with how summer might return to the land, and I think the resolution could have been thought through a bit better.
Frozen is certainly enjoyable. It’s really damn hard not to like charming little movies like this full of wide-eyed cute characters and plots designed to be heartwarming. But some are better than others, and Frozen’s biggest attraction is its animation, not its story.
3.5 out 5 stars