Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Ice Queen: Frozen
At first, watching Disney’s new animated feature Frozen, a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Snow Queen, you’ll feel like you’re back watching Disney’s Tangled. Anna (Kristen Bell) is secluded in the castle (just like Rapunzel in her tower) because no one is allowed near her older sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has a bad case of the icy touch that turns everything frozen. Then she sings “For the First Time in Forever,” a rousing, touching piece – but it sounds too much like the hit song, “I See the Light” from Tangled. Like Rapunzel, Anna dreams of escape so she easily falls in love with the handsome and charming but ultimately treacherous Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).
So far it's a case of déjà vu, but then Elsa submits to fear and anger and all frozen wasteland ensues! When Elsa runs away to the mountain, and Demi Lovato sings “Let it Go” as the Snow Queen transforms the top of the mountain into a dazzling palace of ice, the film achieves a spectacular moment of song and stunning images. There are lots of funny moments with Anna and her faithful hunky Norwegian mountain man, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), but Elsa steals the show when she wields that icy touch that threatens to bury her kingdom in a polar icecap.
As for the ubiquitous Disney movie sidekick, I just don't get Olaf, the sharp-angled snowman with the big mouth who keeps losing his head or his butt. The Lion King has a warthog and a meerkat who fit right into the trappings of the African setting. The Little Mermaid has a Jamaican crab. Mulan has a sassy ornamental dragon, albeit voiced by Eddie Murphy. But this goofy snowman just doesn't look like he fits into a film whose art direction captures the color, textures, and images of its Norwegian setting and its fairytale world. Amidst the film's classic fairytale aesthetics, Olaf just looks like he belongs in a cheesy Christmas special with songs by Burl Ives.