In reference to the new animated Disney film Frozen, I’ve heard numerous critics say it’s the best Disney Animation Studios film since The Lion King. That’s a big statement, but when you sit down and actually think about it Disney Animation Studios hasn’t really delivered a knockout punch since that film (although I like a lot of the studio’s films since then including Pocahontas, Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove, and last year’s Wreck-It Ralph). So is Frozen a knockout for Disney Animation Studios? Probably not, but it certainly is good and its style harkens back to the age of the Disney Renaissance whereas more recent films (such as Wreck-It Ralph) have attempted to take the studio in a different direction.
Frozen follows the future Queen of Arendelle, Elsa (voiced by Broadway star Idina Menzel) and her sister, Princess Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell). Elsa has the ability to create snow and ice, and it has been an ability she has been unsuccessfully trying to control her entire life. When Anna falls for a Prince (voiced by Santino Fontana) and asks for her sister’s blessing in marrying him, an accident happens that plunges the kingdom into eternal winter. Anna must now find her runaway sister in order to save Arendelle. The film is directed by Chris Buck (Disney’s Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (a screenwriter on Wreck-It Ralph making her directorial debut) and is written by Buck, Lee and Shane Morris.
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Shane Morris do a great job of capturing the spirit of what made the films of the Disney Renaissance work. The pacing is perfect and they know the right moments to break out into song (while I don’t think I will be remembering many of the songs, “Let It Go” is the best moment in the film). While clearly trying to harken back to the glory days, Frozen feels most similar to Pixar’s Brave. The world building and the character building of the leads are the highlights in both, but Frozenseems like a sturdier film from beginning to end (probably due to the switching of directors during the production of Brave). It was also nice to see a more female-centric storyline in this film too. While the film seems to ruin this in order to go with a clichéd “true love” climax, keep faith as the creative team has a few tricks up their sleeve.
Frozen is easily the most memorable animated film of the year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this become a holiday classic.