*** CONTAINS SPOILERS ***
Today to get in the Christmas spirit – and mark the start of my Christmas holidays – we took the boys to the cinema to see Disney’s latest animated offering, Frozen. I’d seen one or two websites describing it as the best Disney animated feature in 30 years, so as we’ve had the amazing Toy Story series in amongst those 3 decades, I was curious to see what the fuss was about. Tonight I found out.
The movie centred on two sisters, the eldest – Elsa – of whom had special powers – she could create snow & ice. After an accident where she injures her young sister, Anna, the King and Queen take Anna to trolls who save Anna. To protect Anna, the King and Queen tell Elsa that she needs to hide away from everyone, Anna included. So begins Anna’s separation from her sister, much to her distress. In time, the King and Queen are lost at sea, and Elsa becomes Queen. The castle gates are opened, and the public are admitted for her coronation, something she fears. Anna has a chance meeting with Prince Hans, youngest of 13 brothers. They immediately hit it off, and agree to marry. Elsa wants nothing of anyone coming to live at the castle for fear of her powers being exposed. Anna’s “engagement” angers Elsa, and her powers manifest themselves in catastrophic circumstances in front of the populace, shrouding the kingdom in eternal winter. Elsa flees, setting her up as Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, preferring to live her life in isolation to protect Anna. Anna sets off in search of Elsa, hoping she will reverse the eternal winter. She meets Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and a living snowman, Olaf – created by Elsa and Anna when they were children. Ultimately, there is a confrontation involving Elsa, Anna & Hans resulting in Anna being fatally injured. Her heart is frozen, and only an act of true love can save Anna from death.
Kristoff hurries Anna back to the castle, thinking that its Hans’ kiss that will save her. Hans though was only interested in a marriage of convenience as with 12 elder brothers, he’d have no chance of assuming the throne. His plan was looking like a success with Anna near death, and Elsa seen as a traitor and a death sentence hanging over her. Kristoff leaves the Kingdom believing Anna to have been saved. But Sven convinces him that his place is back in the Kingdom helping Anna. He rushes back to save her, and at this point we’re believing that the twist is that its the common man who gives Anna true love’s kiss. Anna escapes Hans and is searching for Kristoff in the midst of a snow storm created by a frantic Elsa. Anna, near death but about to be saved by Kristoff is forced to help Elsa, who is about to be killed by Hans. Anna finally gives in to the ice in her body, and freezes but in the act of saving Elsa. But its her sacrifice, signifying her love for her sister that saves Anna. This revelation convinces Elsa that love can save her and can control her power. The kingdom returns to summer, and the sisters are reunited in love.
But did it meet expectations? Well for starters the animation was lush and gorgeous. Absolutely smooth and seemless. We almost don’t need live action because the animation is so good. That was a big plus for me. The setting too was fantastic. A snow/ice setting is cinema’s finest setting, and the incredible effects brought across the true power of Elsa. The central characters were engaging and the fantasy of it all helped make them all the more believable. What really worked though was the songs. They were all sweeping grand epics in traditional style. They were very theatrical in nature, and were reminiscent of Hollywood’s golden era of musicals, but with a contemporary twist. The duet between Anna and Elsa in the Snow Queen’s ice palace was a wonderful piece of cinema. There really was something for everyone. A classic fairy tale, fantasy adventure, magic and sweeping songs. In short, Disney absolutely nailed it, and upon reflection, I think I would indeed consider it Disney’s finest animated offering in years, firmly putting in in place at the top of the movie world’s animators once again.