Disney built expectations high when suggesting “Frozen” is “the greatest Disney animated event since The Lion King.” I can’t say I’d push the comparison quite that far, but their 53rd animated feature film is indeed a very good one. With likable characters, memorable songs, and gorgeous scenery this movie is emotional and relatable, with just a handful of crucially cringe-worthy moments that thaw the overall satisfaction it delivers.
“Frozen” starts off boldly, strongly emphasizing its Norwegian backdrop through setting and song. Backed by the chanting tune of “Vuelie,” the opening musical number written and composed by Norwegian composer Frode Fjellheim and performed in the style of Saami yoiking, the opening sets an unexpected tone that doesn’t at all match the rest of the film. It’s attention-grabbing and assertive, but is followed by a total shift in style to one that better suits the comedy-filled adventure that follows.
Sisters Anna and Elsa immediately fit in to the ever-growing Disney Princess lineup. It’s certainly unusual for a Disney film to feature two new princesses, let alone sisters. Anna is the more carefree one, a bit flighty and immature, but still cute and friendly despite her rather clumsy nature. She seems weak at first but has a warm heart. Elsa’s life with magical powers is a bit more complicated, requiring her to be more mature, subdued, and even burdened. She seems strong on the outside but is forced to bottle in her emotions, leaving her colder around others. The dynamic creates an interesting mix as the two are quite different from each other, leaving each audience member to relate more to one or the other. (If I had to choose, I personally like Elsa more.)
The tale that follows these characters is as unusual as their relationship with each other. “Frozen” is definitely not a traditional Disney Princess movie. Though the Prince Charming element is there, the film more importantly turns those traditions on their heads, even referencing them before knocking them down. There’s nothing predictable about where the story ends up or even how it gets there.
In fact, unlike the Jafars and Ursulas of the past, “Frozen” never even has a clear-cut villain. Naturally, there are “good guys” and “bad guys,” but ultimately it’s the story of two sisters’ own relationship and how they handle each other under extreme circumstances. And, being the princesses of the fictional land of Arendelle, their actions have huge implications over their own people that play a crucial role in the emotional journey that ensues.