Ice Queen

Do you remember that string of massive Pixar hits, and how we all kind of wrote off the traditional Disney film model at the time? The culture essentially decided that a new era of animation had begun, and the old-school type of animation we were all so used to could comfortably be consigned to history. Well, I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but Disney has been doing its damndest lately to prove that assumption wrong, and they've been killing it. The Princess and the Frog was a really enjoyable movie for their 2D division, and while I didn't love Tangled as much as everyone else, I did really like it. And let's not forget Wreck-It Ralph, which wound up being my favorite movie last year.

The streak continues with the latest movie, Frozen, which is very loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Snow Queen". It's about two royal sisters: The elder (Elsa) has ice powers that are growing, and that she doesn't have control over, so she shuts herself away from her sister and subjects. The younger (Anna) is an irrepressible adventurer who wants nothing more than to enjoy the close bond with her sister she once had, and to get out and interact with the people. When Anna meets a suitor and falls in love, the announcement of her engagement causes Elsa to fly off the handle and accidentally cast an eternal winter over the kingdom. She flees into the mountains, and so Anna goes on a quest to find her and undo the spell, aided by a loner ice deliverer (Kristoff), his reindeer companion, and Olaf, a goofy, sentient snowman.

While it doesn't quite reach the heights that Wreck-It Ralph did, this is a terrific movie. The animation and 3D are top-notch; at one point I actually though water was leaking from the theater ceiling for a moment. The songs are fun and catchy. Olaf has a hilarious ditty about his looking forward to summer, and Elsa's powerful number about her acceptance of the ice magic in her veins reminded my friend and me of Wicked (and not just because she's voiced by Idina Menzel). This is also another much-needed film where the women are strong characters with actual agency. None of this mooning around hoping the boys come rescue them; both Anna and Elsa are fully in charge of their own destinies.

The movie also has a Mickey Mouse short in front of it, notable mostly for its impressive animation, so be sure to catch that in 3D, if you can. It'll be a good excuse to see Frozen in theaters, which you really should do. Olaf will delight the kids, and for us adults, there's a well-written, well-acted story about a love much more powerful than kisses that wake up sleeping princesses.

Frozen: A-


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