Movie review: You can almost feel the chill in dazzling 'Frozen'

For the News-DemocratNovember 29, 2013 

What It's About

An enchanting classic Disney princess epic, "Frozen" will warm your heart and tickle your funnybone. A loose adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's rather dark tale "The Snow Queen," this animated musical adventure dazzles with its wintry landscape visuals and captivates with its distinctive characters.

Set in Norway, the frozen fiords and snow-covered hills are a magical canvas for the animation wizards to explore the splendors of the winter season. Stunning ice crystals, imaginatively detailed snowflakes, and frolicking in that wonderland are breathtakingly beautiful.

Two sisters, Anna and Elsa, have special powers, but Anna's are lost after a childhood accident, while Elsa's become stronger. She must learn to control her ability to freeze anything and anyone she touches but, unfortunately, after her coronation as queen, she unleashes an eternal winter in the kingdom.

The youngster sister is heartbroken that she and her sister are no longer close, puzzled as to why, and ultimately leaves for greener pastures after falling in love with a prince. There are consequences, and a kind-hearted mountain man, Kristoff, and his trusty reindeer Sven, help the spunky damsel in distress. Things go from bad to worse before they get better, and there is genuine suspense and real danger.

Performances

A trio of Broadway stars shine in this film -- Tony winner Idina Menzel ("Wicked") is the conflicted Snow Queen and her "Glee" co-star Jonathan Groff ("Spring Awakening") is the charming mountain man. Stealing every scene he's in is Josh Gad as the spry, comical snowman Olaf. The lovable Gad, Tony winner for "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and nominee for "Book of Mormon," drew gales of laughter from the little ones throughout the film, as well as adults. Kristen Bell is Anna, the feisty and fun grown-up princess.

Their strong vocals boost the musical score, and "Let It Go," "In Summer" and "First Time in Forever" are highlights. Husband-and-wife composing team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote a number of classic show tunes for this romantic film, reminiscent of another Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid."

The lush musical score by Christophe Beck uses traditional Norwegian music, which adds to the authenticity of the atmosphere.

What Works

The stunning atmosphere keeps you engaged, and the humor keeps the little ones focused. The directors, associated with "Wreck-It Ralph," maintain Disney's classic formula that works while injecting much winning personality into the characters. The Scandinavian setting provides a new world that's fun to watch, with such carefully crafted details, that you almost feel the arctic chill yourself while viewing.

The imaginative minds at work here deserve much credit for their efforts, and it's one of the best Disney animated features in a long time.

What Doesn't Work

For the youngest viewers, it might be a little on the scary side. However, it is a family film that entertains on many levels.

4 stars out of 4

Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Starring: Voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Length: 1:48

Rated: PG for some action and mild rude humor

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