Movie Review: Frozen

Do you want to build a snowman?  You may have been asked this question when you were a kid.  How about now?  If you dare, you could venture outside, bundled up  “A Christmas Story” style and build your very own Frosty, or Olaf.  But we’ll get to that soon enough, as I am already getting ahead of myself.

I will be totally honest.  This movie review should’ve been written a long time ago.  Taking a glance at my ticket stub, the date reads “01/08/2014”.  Why did I wait so long?

If you want the honest truth, I will tell you.  The review was….frozen.  It was as if someone took the very words that I was going to write and encased them in ice.  Every word.  Every scene.  Every anecdote, all laying stagnant in my mind, paralyzed by an icy cocoon.

In spite of the movie review’s state, I did it.  I grabbed an ice pick and I chipped away.  Whacking and hacking away until the ice cracked open.  This only resulted in the freedom of a few words.

Enraged at this, I rushed to the hearth and jabbed my sickle into a blazing log.  I then ran and flung it at the frozen mass.  This resulted in small puddles of water, with more droplets dripping down.  Back to the hearth, I grabbed another log with the sickle and returned to the icy mass, battling it like a mighty beast.  Again and again I did this, until the water started gushing out in streams.  The movie review was free.  All the words were there. Every word that I wanted to say, all perfectly arranged.  Having bested the icy menace, I now needed to know who was responsible for capturing my review in ice.  It had to have been her.  Elsa.  But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.  You’re not supposed to know that name yet!  Now if you saw the movie, that would be understandable.  But let’s be respectable for those who haven’t.  Okay?

What I am about to review is a story of love.  A story of adventure.  An adventure in the cold, so you better bundle up.  This is Disney’s Frozen, a movie released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.  This movie is loosely based off of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen

But can a movie with such a cold name warm the hearts of so many?  The movie experienced a modest opening.  Is Frozen capable of freezing the box office grosses or is it an icicle destined to shatter?  Put on your winter coat and snow pants, everyone.  We are about to find out.

The movie opens with “Eatnemen Vuelie”.  It is a combination of Saami yoiking and the Danish Christmas hymn “Dejlig er jorden”/”Fairest Lord Jesus”. Composed by Frode Fjellheim.  This song is to Frozen as the Swahili chants that opened “The Circle of Life”  in The Lion King.  What we see are men hard at work, chipping away at ice and transporting it back to their camp.  The ice would then be transported from the mountain to the town of Arendelle below.

While the men were hard at work, a boy and his reindeer struggle to produce a fraction of the men’s work.  The boy loads a tiny block of ice onto a sled, which is pulled by the young reindeer.

Meanwhile, we are taken to the castle, where we see two young sisters.  One blond and one brunette.  The brunette one, named Anna wanted to build a snowman.  The blond one, named Elsa agreed, using her powers to create a winter wonderland in the castle.  After playing a little too roughly, Elsa accidentally harms Anna.  This results in Anna’s memories of Elsa’s powers being removed by trolls, as the only means of breaking the spell and saving her life.

As the years pass, the girls grow apart.  Elsa (Idina Menzel), being determined to not to harm Anna again, shelters herself in her bedroom.  Anna (Kristen Bell), not having any memory of the incident regarding her sister’s powers is frustrated at her sister’s unwillingness to want to bond.  When the girls became teenagers, the parents die at sea.

When Elsa comes of age, it is finally time for her coronation.  The whole kingdom prepares for it, with dukes and princes coming from different kingdoms.

With Anna finally being allowed out of the castle, she falls in love with Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) of the Southern Isles.   After the coronation, Hans proposes to her.  Anna then asks for her sister’s blessing to marry Hans at the reception.  Elsa refuses, and the two of them get into a fight.  This fight results in Elsa’s powers being revealed.  Shocked and upset, Elsa leaves the castle, unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom as she fled into the mountains.

With the truth exposed, Anna is determined to get her sister back, end the winter and mend their relationship.  As she was getting supplies, she meets a now grown-up Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven.  This was the same boy who was with his reindeer years ago.

Anna joins the two, heading up the mountain in search of her sister.  On their way up, they encounter Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman that Anna and Elsa made when they were children.  He came to life when Elsa made her ice palace hideaway.

Olaf leads the group to Elsa’s ice palace and the two sisters reunite. When Anna persuades Elsa to come back, she refuses, still being afraid of harming her sister again.  After much persisting, Elsa accidentally strikes her sister, hitting her in the heart.  This causes Anna’s hair to begin turning white.  After Kristoff heads to his adoptive family of trolls, he discovers that Anna’s heart has been frozen. Unless it’s thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever.  Will Anna be saved?  Or will she become a frozen statue?  And what about the kingdom of Arendelle?  With the queen gone, who will rule the kingdom?  I could tell you, but I would rather not spoil it.  You will have to see the movie to find out.

The length of the movie was just right for an animated movie.  Considering the age group for this movie, it was just long enough to hold the attention span of a 5-12 year old.  The plot flowed well and the story was solid. Solid like ice.

The movie was also full of excellent characters.  Characters that served as a “shout out” to Hans Christian Andersen.  We have Prince Hans, which is an obvious one.  The second one is Kristoff (Christian).  The third piece of the puzzle is Anna (Ander).  The last piece is Sven (sen), Kristoff’s reindeer companion.

To dig deeper into the movie, Anna’s character is based off of Gerda in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.  Elsa’s character was the Snow Queen herself.  In characterizing these for Frozen, some things had to be changed.  The Snow Queen was evil, so they decided to make her into Elsa, with the ice powers being a constant and part of an ongoing inner struggle.  They also made her sisters with Anna to create a family dynamic.  I thought this balance was achieved well, especially after a couple of failed attempts at developing this movie (first attempt was in the late 1990’s; second attempt was in 2008).

There were a lot of things that I loved about Frozen.  I loved the realism of the snow physics and I thought the snow was perfect.  Thanks to our current CGI technology, every snowflake looks like a snowflake.  The ice was flawless and not fake.  Considering how hard it is to animate this, I think that they did a good job in pulling this off.  I also liked the memorable characters.  Especially Olaf.  He was so hilarious in the movie.  His Summer montage was hard not to laugh at.  I mean, when are you ever going to see a snowman sitting on the beach in the middle of summer?  I loved the music, even though it was very frequent in the movie.  Considering the audience and how this was typical of animated Disney movies, I thought this was fine.  The Lion King did the same thing, and, being almost 10 at the time of that movie’s release, I didn’t even notice.

In fact, the music was so popular in the movie that they actually released a “Sing Along” version of Frozen.  And that’s complete with the words to all the songs on the screen, accompanied by a bouncing snowflake.

Now comes the part where I provide my nitpicks for the movie.  And….I guess there aren’t any.  They were all frozen.  To compare this plot to Brave, it added one thing that the other one didn’t have.  Music, snow and a hilarious snowman with a hopeless dream of experiencing the summer heat.  He’ll experience it as a puddle if the laws of physics worked properly.  But in this case, magic supersedes those laws in this movie.

How did Frozen do in the box office?  Amazing or wonderful would be an understatement.  While it started with a modest limited opening weekend of $243,390 and a much better wide opening weekend of $67.4 million, the grosses have snowballed.  It may not be number one, but it’s pretty close.  With a current domestic gross of $384.8 million, it is one of the top 20 highest grossing movies of all time, both domestically and internationally.  On top of that, it’s the third highest grossing animated movie of all time.  Combining its $600.3 million foreign gross, it has a chilling $985.1 million.  The two movies that are higher are The Lion King, with $987.4 million and Toy Story 3, with $1.06 billion.  And with Frozen releasing March 14th in Japan, the movie is well on its way to reaching a billion.  What more can I say?  The numbers speak for themselves.  The popularity of this movie has frozen many hearts, warming them with a charming tale of love, family and adventure using an ingenious reworking of Andersen’s timeless classic.

So do you want to build a snowman?  Everyone who has seen this movie has done so already in their hearts.  A pure, fun and innocent caricature depicting our fond memories of childhood.  This movie evokes those memories, and establishes the importance of relationships in the family.  I give Frozen a 5 out of 5.

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