Tuesday 24 December 2013

Frozen (2013) - Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

1995 was a turning point for Disney.  This was the year that Toy Story was released, the year that Pixar usurped Disney as the kings of animation.  Disney have tried in vain to retake their crown (Wreck It Ralph being the only recent exception).  With Frozen, the fight continues.

It starts off in typical Pixar fashion with a pre-feature short that, in homage to Disney's legacy, begins as a black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon but soon shifts to include modern CGI.  Not only is it great use of 3D, it's an appropriate fusion of Disney past and present (even if the story does become too Itchy and Scratchy - turns out Mickey is a pretty mean mouse).

It also sets the standard too high - from hereon in things take a turn for the worst.  Disney continue to delve into the works of Hans Christian Andersen for inspiration, this time The Snow Queen.  Regardless, Frozen descends into the usual rubbish about princesses, magic and true love's kiss, including a love triangle between klutzy Princess Anna, the wet Prince Hans and arrogant country boy Kristoff.  Pass me a bucket.

To its credit, Frozen does eventually subvert conventions with its story, but any fairytale charm is lost in modernism.  More so, Buck and Lee (who wrote and directed the film) have failed to recognise that the best Disney films are dependent on a convincing villain: Frozen lacks an equivalent Scar, Jafar, Ursula or Maleficent.  Even the lead roles are bland, with only singing snowman Olaf providing any laughs.

Frozen also lacks any decent music.  The Lion King has its African chanting, Aladdin has its Arabian melodies, The Little Mermaid has its Caribbean rhythms and Frozen has....a pop score devoid of character.  The singing is nice enough but Idina Menzel's voice is far too mature for the young Queen Elsa.  Demi Lovato's song over the credits is the only one you'll be singing on the way out.

Not even the visuals provide charm.  Ice palaces may sparkle with light refracting detail, but the character design is totally uninspired.  Along with its music and plot, Frozen should really have been a straight to DVD film.

Now if someone can wrench the ice out of my heart that would be much appreciated.