It seems that every year is crammed with more crappy generic animated movies than the last. Even Pixar has lost much of its quality nowadays what with it’s marketing department taking over (how else can you explain the number of vehicular titles and protagonists they’ve used recently?). But every year, amongst the muck and stank of the aforementioned refuse, there’s one that shows true quality. Last year presented us with Rise of the Guardians, a sorely unloved (what with it’s poor performance at the box office) yet deeply imaginative and amusing tale that earned it’s place as one of my top ten picks for best movies of 2012. And for the year of 2013, it’s Frozen, one of the most emotional and well crafted animated movies I’ve ever seen.
The plot is possibly the greatest part of the movie. The amount of material covered in just the first fifteen minutes alone could’ve been used to make the average hour and thirty minute run time for standard family and kiddy affair but in Frozen, the narrative takes so many twists and turns that clearly cater to the interests of an intelligent audience. But what makes the plot so engaging isn’t just the events, it’s the characters. We have Anna, the fun-loving upbeat princess who is ready to run out into the world and experience all that is magical, and then there’s Elsa, (my personal favorite) her sister who is next in line for the throne. As you might’ve guessed, this responsibility has made her personality more stoic and reserved but her out of control magical powers have taken her from cautionary to downright terrified of everything that would excite Anna. There are plenty of other characters that are fleshed out and all the voice actors do well enough in their own right, but all the moral dilemma between Anna and Elsa that makes up the majority of the movie is truly something fantastical to behold.
The musical numbers in Frozen are among the best I’ve seen in the entirety of the history of cinema. “Let It Go” was sung exceptionally well, accompanied with some spectacular visual flare and when put into context with all the emotional turmoil and incredible writing surrounding the scene, it’s easy to see why it was my favorite moment in the movie. Most of the other songs are good, the one that features Anna and Elsa singing after the timeskip was another whose impressive quality stuck out to me, although there was one that I will admit to not being particularly fond of. It involves a bunch of troll-peaople with boulders on their backs singing about the flaws and strengths of Kristoff (the male lead) and why Anna and he should be married. It felt like a weak attempt at comedy and pandering to the kiddies in their seats. What’s more, most everything surrounding the song could’ve been cut and it wouldn’t have made for much of a difference.
There is the usual evidence of moments and even a specific wacky talking snowman character (named Olaf) which were likely manifested for the sole purpose of pleasing the under 10 year olds demographic, but unlike saaaaay, Cars who let that aspect encompase the majority of the movie, in Frozen it’s very tame. The kiddie moments only occasionally rear their ugly head and as far as the quirky offbeat comedy moments of Olaf go, they’re generally funny and amusing, and most don’t feel too juvenile either.
But what really won me over was the level of sophistication and, to an extension, the goal of the movie. Frozen bucks tradition and the numerous clichés of Disney animated movies at every turn. The two female leads (yes they are without a doubt the main characters) are powerful indeed but also feel very human and vulnerable. Even the antagonist(s) in Frozen are done in a rather unorthodox manner. And without wishing to spoil the ending, I was so pleased to see that this wasn’t just another animated movie that does the whole “true love’s kiss” nonsense.
You may have noticed that with the exception of my review of Thor 2, I hadn’t really reviewed a movie in awhile. That was because thanks to the slew of astoundingly bad movies I saw up until recently, I found myself frustrated with the medium on the whole. I began to shut it out. I didn’t risk letting any new movie experience in because nothing showed promise. Even in recent years, despite the rare examples like Rise of the Guardians, I’ve lost a lot of the love I had for animated movies, which used to be some of my favorites. But much like the struggle Elsa faces in Frozen, I’ve learned that you have to give things a chance. Saying that Frozen is the best animated movie of the year means little to nothing, especially when it’s one of the best animated movies ever. The message, the characters, the melodies, the terrific animations, the emotional struggles, it’s all present and accounted for as even most of the humor hits all the right notes. And as it stands, I can’t recommend this movie enough.
Frozen gets a 9.5/10