In cinemas from 6 December 2013
Reviewed by Laura Parle
Frozen is a heart-warming tale based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
As children, sisters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa’s ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips.
Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years. Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it’s a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf (the most amazing snowman ever!)
When an accident late one night almost ends in disaster, the King of the rocks agrees to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling’s hidden talents. At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers.
When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne. Unfortunately, on her coronation day, her gloves come off and the locals witness her powers, branding her a witch. She flees into the snowy mountains to live alone in a castle of ice. Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart Prince Hans (Santino Fontana). As she ascends towards Elsa’s hideaway, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).
For me the most surprising part is that Anna and Elsa aren’t looking to have their lives transformed by men. That’s something they, and anyone else for that matter, have to do on their own. (It’s no accident that one of the songs is called “Fixer Upper.”) By learning to accept her powers, Elsa accepts herself. In her big musical number, she literally sheds the pretty princess model, letting her hair down and bellowing about how “the cold never bothered me anyway.” Anna, for her part, is an active participant in chasing Elsa, and she actually saves the strapping Kristoff from a deadly fate.
The girls aren’t waiting for a rescue. And the biggest enemy here is Elsa’s shattered self-image, which has destroyed her once-loving relationship with Anna. “Frozen” is a sisterly love story, and the ingenious, refreshing approach is never rubbed in our faces. The directors incorporate these feelings into a jaunty, spirited affair that is briskly paced and brimming with energy. The songs are uniformly catchy so expect, without notice, to bellow “In the first time in forever!” aloud for a few days afterward. And the voice work is excellent, with Bell displaying a singing ability that rivals Broadway pro Menzel.
The most rewarding aspect about “Frozen” is how it urges girls to define themselves not by tiaras or by grabbing the attention of a handsome saviour, but by looking within. “Frozen” is a movie for the modern girl – or the one who’s too young to see “The Hunger Games” – that should have been in vogue years ago. Better late than never.
A very well deserved 5 out of 5.
Disney's Frozen is in cinemas throghout the UK from 6 December 2013.