Movie review: Frozen


108 mins/Now showing/***1/2

The story: Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), afraid of hurting people with her power of freezing everything she touches, flees her kingdom of Arendelle to live alone.

Her younger sister, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), sets off to look for her, with the help of her mountain-man friend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad).

Tis one charming tale that viewers will have no problem warming up to. Like 2010's Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale, this is centred on a Disney princess whom little girls can look up to.

Many of the classic Disney princesses, after all, are old-fashioned damsels in distress. Great marketing tools for the animation studio, perhaps, but hardly the best female role models around.

Frozen's Princess Anna, however, is having none of that. When her elder sister Queen Elsa flees town, she insists on going after her through blizzards, despite everyone warning her of how dangerous the journey would be.

Feisty and fiercely independent, she is also very real. She may be a princess who grew up in a castle, but she is hardly the perfect doll-like creature a la Cinderella.

When she wakes up, her hair is a mess and she drools all over the place. Boy-girl dynamics take a back seat to the sisterhood story here - showing young viewers that life is not all about waiting for Prince Charming. In fact, the film openly mocks Disney's old fairytale romance tropes.

When Anna appears to have fallen for the handsome Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) and agrees to his proposal within the same day, things look set for a happily-ever-after.

But instead of beaming and throwing confetti in the air, those around her disapprove and grill her on whether she is serious about him. No dreamy whirlwind romance here.

When Kristoff joins her on her adventure, a love triangle ensues, making things more interesting.

Of course, not everything is about Anna. Like all the best Disney animated features, a lovable sidekick creature is thrown in - in this case, a buck- toothed snowman named Olaf.

The goofy guy is so sweetly naive that he is the funniest of the lot. He imagines, for example, that his favourite season is summer, dreaming of getting a tan by the beach.

Entertaining as the movie is, it falls just short of the Disney classics such as The Lion King (1994), with its moving majesty, nuanced and complex relationships, and fine songs.

It does not help that the final part of the movie wraps up way too abruptly.

Some side characters - say, the sneaky Duke of Weselton (voiced by Alan Tudyk), who hopes to exploit Arendelle for the kingdom's money and resources - are too one-dimensional to care about.

Still, viewers will lap up the Broadway-esque songs and stunning visuals enhanced by 3-D. You will never see ice and snow the same way again.

Be sure to get to the cinema early to catch the wonderfully inventive animated short film, Get A Horse!, which plays right before Frozen.

The seven-minute work about Mickey Mouse and his friends starts off looking like the classic hand-drawn Disney cartoons of the late 1920s, complete with black-and-white filters and nostalgic character designs.

But a few minutes in, the film has the characters jumping out of the screen in full colour and in 3-D, then switches back and forth between these two animated worlds.

Mickey's voice here is done using original archival voice recordings of Mr Walt Disney himself - a smart link and celebration of the studio's long, illustrious history.

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