Once upon a time Disney ruled the world of animated feature films. Thanks to people like Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and a great animation department, the studio put out one instant classic after another. Then one day, computer animation became the way of animated movies and aside from their partnership with Pixar, Disney became a non-factor. Disney did try their hand drawn animation again with “The Princess and the Frog”, but it failed to revitalize the art form. They did find success a few years ago with the computer animated movie, “Tangled” and they now hope to recapture that success with their new movie, “Frozen”.
Anna and Elsa are two sister princesses living in the kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has a very special power, she can create snow and ice with only a thought. She must keep her powers hidden from everybody, including her sister. However, one day those powers will no longer be contained and a very frozen Arendelle pays the price. Anna must make a treacherous journey in hopes to reverse the affects.
“Frozen” is also a musical and the producers wisely choose the original Wicked Witch of the West to play Elsa, Idina Menzel. She sings some of the best songs in the movie. Unfortunately, while a couple of the songs in the movie are really good, the rest are not. “Tangled” had excellent musical numbers throughout, but that kind of success is hard to repeat.
What really hurts “Frozen” is the audience does not make an emotional connection with the characters. Those who have seen “Up” may remember the opening sequence and how powerfully emotionally it was. Without giving too much away, a tragedy does occur in this movie too, but unlike “Up”, there were plenty of dry eyes in the house. That falls squarely in the laps of the co-directors, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck.
This is Jennifer Lee’s first directing effort. She was one of the co-writers of “Wreck-It Ralph”. It is very exciting when a writer gets a chance to direct what they wrote and you pray they can deliver what a reader may envision on screen. Obviously the studio was nervous about making her the sole director so they teamed her up with Mr. Buck. Did anyone check out this guy’s resume? He co-directed Disney’s “Tarzan” in 1999. That movie did not help hand drawn animated movies stay alive. He wasn’t given the opportunity to direct again until 2007’s “Surf’s Up”, also not noteworthy of anything emotional within. Connecting with the characters is so important in a movie like “Frozen”. Why would the studio give the directing chores to these two is a mystery. However, the studio may have thought that was not important and getting an animated family movie out at Thanksgiving time is all they need to make it a hit.
But, children are going to love this movie. All the children who saw a screening of it at the Regal Royal Palm in West Palm Beach could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed it. “That movie was soooooooooo good” one little boy said. One young girl was singing along during the end credit sequence. Some parts of the movie are a little intense, hence the PG rating. One kid kept talking out loud during the movie exclaiming how he was no longer going to look. However, the movie should not give your young ones nightmares.
The computer animation in “Frozen” is hardly groundbreaking. In fact, the rendering left something to be desired. Weird as this may seem to state, this movie could have worked better if it was animated traditionally instead of by computer. The 3D in the movie is fine. Disney is not known for putting out good looking 3D, but you will not feel ripped off if you pay the extra money to see it that way. Be sure to get to the movie on time because there is an animated short that happens first and THAT is 100% worth seeing in 3D and even worth the price of admission. The short stars none other than Mickey Mouse himself and he is back in his old form, in more ways than one.
“Frozen” may get a couple of laughs from parents, but again, the kids will laugh more. Thanksgiving is a time of the year that brings families together. The movie has been out for more than a few days and if you are looking for something to do, this can be as good a choice as any.