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CINEMA with SARAH O'CONNOR: Disney tale has some delightful characters

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

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FROZEN (PG)

★★★★

CHRISTMAS wouldn't be the same without a Disney movie and this year the studio have come up trumps with a delightful animated feature, loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen, but brimming with modern ideas, musical numbers and delightful characters.

Set in the magical land of Arendelle, the tale tells of two royal sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell).

Newly-appointed to the throne, Elsa discovers she has magical powers, but when she loses her temper she is unable to control them.

After accidently conjuring up an eternal frozen landscape for the kingdom, she has gone into hiding in the mountains.

In an attempt to save the Kingdom, Anna sets out to find her sister and bring her home.

Her journey is a treacherous and dangerous affair so she enlists the help of a local woodsman Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven.

Together they venture deep into the mountains, risking life and limb in the frozen wastelands.

Anna is engaged to Prince Hans but, in true Disney fashion, as she and Kristoff grow closer, she realises that maybe being married to guy just because he has a fancy title is not always the wise way to go.

In an inspired piece of voice casting, Idina Menzel, who played the original wicked witch in the musical Wicked, is perfect for the role of the outcast.

She also gets the best and biggest musical number Let it Go. Her performance of the song Defying Gravity in Wicked was one of the most iconic and stunning pieces of musical theatre of the century (not an understatement – watch it on Youtube) and here she does not disappoint.

Her voice reaches places most singers cannot touch and it's just a shame we don't get to hear more of her.

But at least Disney can guarantee that, with her presence, the soundtrack will sell well.

The animated frozen landscape is breathtaking. Disney have outdone themselves in creating a fantastical world that feels real.

Cinematically this a far richer effort than Brave and is a far better film too. And while it caters for children in the traditional Disney style, its undertones are far more vivid than normal Disney fare.

It has an intelligence which is rare in animation, especially in the first half of the film. The second half tends to slide back into safe Disney realms — perhaps they should have been braver and stuck with it to the end but there is always the big consideration which drives all creative decision making —the box office.

Children will adore the talking Snowman called Olaf who has some of the best comic moments and a great song.

Interestingly the older generation may be more impressed by the film's adult attitude to modern day themes — this could well be interpreted as a film about the strength of women.

The relationship between the sisters lies at the heart of the narrative and it is their ability to be strong and adaptable in the face of danger which is so impressive and marks a new direction for Disney.

This film says it's very nice to have a guy around for back up, but actually, girls, you don't need him.

Of all the 53 animated movies Disney have ever produced, this is one of the best. Magical, mystical and musical, it is a splendid Christmas treat for all the family to enjoy. And it would not surprise me one jot to see this end up on Broadway.

The material is all there and it would be a logical next step. Frozen the Musical starring Idina Menzel. It does have a certain ring to it.

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