Saturday, November 30, 2013



Review by:
G.P. Manalo

Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Josh Gad
Jonathan Groff
Santino Fortana

If there are other things Disney is truly trademarked for besides Mickey Mouse it is the Disney Princesses. For almost 8 decades, Disney has brought magic and wonder through these princesses, even having a tradition out of it. But as years come by the Disney Princess movies have become more different, making their princesses be stronger instead of waiting for their princes to save them.  It wasn’t until 2009 where Disney was slowly forming itself back to the Disney we once known since the animation renaissance. Frozen, somewhat broke 8 decades of tradition in a good way as it put twists to the assumptions and conclusions of the people who have explored this kind of boundary before and at the same time have that same magic and wonder from the Disney animation renaissance. Granted there are still a few flaws that does not put on par with the film.

Frozen tells the story of two sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). Elsa was born with supernatural powers where she has the ability to create ice and snow. But when one accident occurred between the two sisters, her parents decided to hide her from the outside world and even her own sister. When Elsa is finally coroneted as the queen of their kingdom, she is forced to come out of hiding and in an unfortunate timing made her lose control of her powers and made their kingdom put to an eternal winter. Anna embarks on a journey with the help of her newly founded friends, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven and a snowman named, Olaf (Josh Gad) to find and reconcile with her sister who has isolated herself to the dangerous Icelands where she built her new kingdom.

An adaptation/re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen has been in talks ever since the 40s and even Walt Disney himself couldn’t seem to have a crack at it. Like most Disney Princesses movies (or Disney movies in general), the source material it is based on is very much loosely based on it (Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid being one of them), As I do my research on The Snow Queen (by research I mean, other sources than Wikipedia), an adaptation about the Snow Queen does seem too “out there” to have a motion picture out of it. Nonetheless, despite its difficulty to bring a property like The Snow Queen, writers Jennifer Lee (of Wreck-It Ralph fame) still puts most of the elements together and tell a good (and kid-friendly) enough story with the material.

Instead this film feels like it is making fun of other Disney Princess films or at least putting a twist to it, almost how the Shrek movies did to the fairy tale characters. One of the notable examples was, Elsa’s characterization, she would’ve been the plotting pointy nosed witch who cursed the land for revenge of shunning her from society but instead made her a misunderstood person, other examples would be the film making fun at how fast the princess falls in love with a prince without knowing who he is, and other things that I shouldn’t be mentioning anymore. The film does a terrific job to put those in-jokes play a huge part in the film’s storytelling.

Granted, the storytelling part is not necessarily perfect when it does have its fair share of flaws; from the first half it does feel clumsy though not as messy when it comes to the exposition. Introducing the characters other than the two leads, felt rushed and some unnecessary elements weren’t really needed for them, the villain on the other hand felt short-handed; the villain was disappointing in this movie due to the lack of screen time and not having the proper introduction for them.  Despite this film being a musical and all they didn't give the villain a song either to shed some light on their motivations. The film was too busy raising some elements from the “Snow Queen” storyline. It could’ve been better if this film was told without elaborating the fact that “this is based on the Snow Queen” because the movie can do better without it. Ironically enough, the film didn’t develop the character of Elsa that well. I left the theatre wanting more from her character (exploring her abilities and back story), you never really get to know her side of the things that much throughout the film, making it a bit difficult to understand more to the character. Despite the first half’s clumsiness, the second half kicks into high gear for a more emotionally driven film, though the ending does ruin it a bit because of how rushed it is.

Speaking of musicals, the music in this film had that touch of a broadway musical. Having some of the cast and crew as veterans of broadway musicals as characters speak through song (which i'd like to call Les Miserables-ing) much like Beauty and the Beast had back then and if you thought the songs in Tangled and Princess and the Frog were a lackluster, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (both being fresh from “The Book of Mormon” fame) gave this film a lot of memorable songs (a lot of people will be singing “Let it go” once they go out of the cinema, that’s for sure). In every song of the film the expressiveness feels dominant in both melody and voice, giving real emotions to the rather obvious lyrics. The music in this film is on the level of Disney classics like Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (both having broadway productions themselves) I can totally see a marquee one day where it will say “Frozen on ice”.

The performances were also amazing in this film, Broadway veteran Idina Menzel stealing the spotlight in most parts of the movie, but it was really Josh Gad's adorable snowman character, Olaf. Him having a role as a comedy relief felt genuine and not forced with modern jokes that feels irrelevant in the timeline. Every time he enters the screen is a scene stealer and you just feel like giggling by his presence. The rest like Kristen Bell's Anna, giving a lot of spunk and empowerment that could shut feminists up while the other supporting cast such as Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk and Jonathan Groff were also great in this film even though their characters were lacking development.

Though the traditional 2D animation is shelved in a generation of 3D animation, the animation in the film gives more finesse when it comes to bringing a world to life in animated form. The animation is just beautiful in this film, people in the past few months have been shredding this movie due to its similarity to the recent Disney Princess Film, Tangled. But we can say the same thing during the renaissance where they recycled animation and designs being similar themselves. The character designs are unique enough, having fun characters that do fit their personalities.

Nowadays, Disney Princess films tried to be that nostalgic film and at the same time thinking forward as it empowers the princesses than just someone who waits for their princes to rescue them, making them doing better things without those princes. Disney's Frozen is a great film, following up to Disney's successes (I'm fully aware Planes came out this year, but I'm still pretending that movie does not exist). Frozen is a film where you truly feel that Disney is coming back to form. The film tells a satisfying enough story with a very creative twist of two sisters of royalty, not to mention this can inspire children/girls to channel their inner strength than waiting for their prince charming and fix their problems. The film is packed with laughs, beautiful imagery and songs that'll get you tapping your feet and be in awe. This is definitely fun for the whole family, I can see two bickering sisters getting along after seeing this movie (somehow, but then again I don’t understand women very well) and when kids do pull you into watching this movie you’ll actually find yourselves having a good time, I should know because I’m a 17-year old boy who pulled my mom into watching this movie with me and she ended up enjoying the heck out of it.




4/5 – FOR THE WIN!

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