The last few years have been rather odd for Disney, with the exception of The Princess And The Frog the majority of Disney’s output for the past several years has been out of character in that it’s been skewed heavily towards a male audience, forsaking the female fanbase that has been the company’s bread and butter for nearly eighty years. Sure, Tangled was centred on the character of Rapunzel, but Disney made the bizarre choice to focus the marketing on the male character of Flynn instead. With Frozen however, Disney are back doing what they do best, crafting a traditional revisionist fairytale led by not one but two strong female characters.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Frozen is the tale of two princesses, Elsa and Anna, who are orphaned and left the sole heirs to the kingdom of Arendelle. As the years tick by, elder sister Elsa prepares for her ascension the throne, but harbours a secret mystical ability that, when unleashed, plunges the kingdom into an eternal winter – leaving Anna with no choice but to track her sister down and restore the kingdom to it’s natural state.
With Glee now a fixed point in popular culture, two of it’s supporting cast members (Menzel and Groff) are front and centre on the voicing detail, with Kristen Bell taking on the role of Anna and displaying some surprisingly strong chops in the singing department. Josh Gad meanwhile provides the voice of Olaf, the snowman character who somehow manages to embody everything that makes a Disney movie. You’d be forgiven for assuming (based on the marketing) that Olaf’s shtick would get tiresome, but thankfully Gad brings enough vocal charm to the role to keep it fresh and entertaining. With three solid performances this past year, Gad’s clearly on a role; and I can’t think of a better film to cap the year off for him than Frozen.
It’s hard to deny that ditching the contemporary wit of Tangled may have been a bad idea in the eyes of the younger Disney fanbase, but the results speak for themselves: Frozen is a first rate effort, a rather touching and visually striking fairytale that will no doubt become a fan favourite in years to come. The songs (of which there seem more than usual) are mostly very moving and well executed, the script is tight and effective, and the characters retain all the hallmarks of a classic tale from the House of Mouse.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee