Tag Archive: Frozen


Zootropolis-1Arguably, the output from Disney Animation Studios of late has been better than that of Pixar Animation Studios, not that the two are competing. Since 2010, Disney Animation (with John Lasseter as its head of production) has released Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and now Zootropolis, all of which were graced with strong to exceptional box-office numbers and equal critical acclaim. Pixar, while capable of still producing both critical and box-office darlings like Toy Story 3 and Inside Out, have seemed to lack a certain spark or depended upon hits of yesteryear (continuing to do so this year with Finding Dory). Disney themselves are once again leading the pack when it comes to mainstream animation, and in Zootropolis they have cemented what we were already beginning to suspect; Disney are in something of a resurgence period, one to match the second Golden Age of the 90’s. And this time, it’s political.

In  a world populated by animals of an anthropomorphic nature, whom all co-exist peacefully, young rabbit Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) has just become Zootropolis’ first rabbit police officer. While often being faced with a certain degree of prejudice due to her size Zootropolis-2and species, Judy none the less is keen to make an impression and prove she’s more than capable to tackle the serious cases often handed out to her colleagues. The opportunity soon arises when she is tasked with a missing animal case, one of many in the city. Teaming up with street-wise con-fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), Judy soon uncovers a conspiracy that could upset the peaceful balance held in the city of Zootropolis

Zootropolis is the type of animation that offers plenty for more adult viewers, despite the fact that it is a feature populated by talking animals walking on their hind legs. It is an incredibly timely tale that deals with various degrees of prejudice, holding a mirror up to American society, both its past and unfortunately its present. It tackles these mature themes through sophisticated allegory, all the while remaining a cute and engaging caper allowing for plenty of fun to be had throughout. Disney has often been very deft at such a balance, but rarely has it felt this timely.

Zootropolis-3Along with this potent allegory, Zootropolis also has a team of animators working at the top of their game. The level of detail in the design of the numerous districts of the city of Zootropolis and its suburbs is phenomenal, with many scenes littered with intrinsic features and visual gags. This is the sort of film which will appreciate home viewing experience so one can pause a frame and pick out all the wonderfully imaginative details that can be found within a chosen scene. The character designs as well hark back to Disney of old, with the 1973 Robin Hood particularly coming to mind through numerous characters.

The general plotting of Zootropolis is perhaps the weakest point of the film. While it does have some smartly applied allegory, it does take a while to get to the truly meatier aspects of its politically tinged plot developments. For the most part, the proceedings take on a noir-ish element, and it is not always all that successful, particularly when it feels the need to reference both films within that genre and popular culture which don’t particularly share any DNA with the proceedings. It means a few of the gags do fall flat, but for the most part the script remains largely witty, if a touch too obviously self-referential in regards to Disney’s history (and future).

Zootropolis does a great deal beneath the surface of being a seemingly traditional Disney animation. It has an incredibly well written central female role, as well as populating the rest of the cast with characters who feel well crafted and well defined, even if this still suffers from the prevalent issue of Disney movies of Zootropolis-4late struggling to deliver a truly memorable antagonist. The voice-cast across all the characters, no matter how small their part, all do excellent work, particularly Goodwin and Bateman, who strike a strong chord as the two leads whose dynamic is incredibly refreshing, proving to be excellent company across the neatly paced run-time.

It shall be interesting to see how long this strong streak lasts for Disney, as they will more than likely succumb to the call of sequelizing their recently popular titles (Frozen 2 is happening, a decision which is surely more financially motivated than it is creative). For now, though, they can revel in what is proving to be a resurgence in which both the studio and the audience benefit, providing films that offer excellent entertainment and important moral lessons for all ages. A shining new era is tip-toeing nearer.

4/5- Textured, progressive and incredibly timely, Zootropolis can easily class itself as an instant Disney classic. 

 

Animation is a craft, no matter what form it is in. Be it 2-D drawings (my personal favourite), stop-motion, puppetry, or computer generated, the work of a group of talented animators can be felt (well, if it’s well made that is). The dominate form of animation these days is the computer animated form, with Disney abandoning the form that made their Studio fortune. None the less, the studio has recently had a string of quite brilliant hits, from Tangled, to Frozen, and most recently with Big Hero 6. The second most prevalent form of animation is arguably stop-motion. The time-consuming process does herald a great deal of respect, with Laika leading the way in recent cinematic stop-motion endeavours. With two examples of these forms currently playing in cinema, I thought I would take out two birds with one stone to express my views on two examples of these different, yet no less creative forms of animation, Big Hero 6 and Shaun the Sheep: The Movie.  

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Big Hero 6 (Dir: Don Hall & Chris Williams) 

Disney’s first dip into the Marvel pool that is separate from the MCU mines material from a comic-book which began in the late 90’s. Although it bears little similarity, the central basis of the team allows for the Disney gurus to produce something that feels very distinctly Disney, and very distinctly Marvel at the same time. The film follows young teenaged genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who is left grief stricken following the death of his brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney). When he begins to stumble on a conspiracy surrounding his brother’s death, Hiro is aided by his brother’s robotic health-care invention, Baymax (Scott Adsit), in finding out the truth. When they stumble across what appears to be super-villain, Hiro sets about forming a super-hero team with Tadashi’s old class-mates in order to save the city of San Fransokyo, and reconcile his own grief.

The design and execution of Big Hero 6 is nothing short of spectacular. The futuristic city of San Fransokyo is a hive of colour, energy and creativity. The opening act, which does a highly efficient job of introducing all the main characters, buzzes with invention, with every character coming across as very rounded and clearly defined individuals. The infectious momentum of the opening allows for the devastating emotional beats to truly hit hard, allowing for Big Hero 6 to navigate more complex emotions than your normal kiddy-fair.

This momentum doesn’t quite sustain, as the film loses much of its originality as it becomes more and more of a superhero movie. The initial team-up remains visually unique, as the team discover and come to terms with their powers and what they are capable of. The film veers towards being more action-orientated in the final moments, yet what is impressive is the individual sense of character that remains within the more heroic moments. It is not afraid to continue to delve in to more mature themes, particularly when Hiro is faced with the identity of the man responsible for his brother’s death. It deftly balances the conventional super-heroics with its thematic concerns in a very sophisticated manner. BigHero6

Much of the charm of the film comes from its characters, and in the team we have a great bunch in which to spend time with. The true stand-out is Baymax, the huggable robot re-fitted for heroism is both a hilarious and touching creation, thoughtfully designed and well performed. The relationship between Baymax and Hiro brings welcome comparisons to The Iron Giant, with the films conveying similar sensibilities in regards to how they approach their audience; rarely pandering, and not afraid to explore mature themes, and most importantly, offering important advice for those themes. A fine addition to the Disney pantheon. 4/5  

shaunthesheepmovie

Shaun the Sheep Movie (Dir: Richard Starzak & Mark Burton)

Aardman have well and truly established themselves as masters of the stop-motion technique. While their feature films only come around once in a blue moon, they are often works of brilliance (Flushed Away not withstanding). Their latest, a big screen adventure for Shaun the Sheep, may not be up there with the likes of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, is still a lovingly made piece of entertainment that anyone can enjoy.

Hoping for a bit of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off kind of fun, Shaun leads a scheme which will see the farmer incapacitated for a day so that the flock can take a break from the daily routine. When the plan goes awry and leaves the Farmer with memory loss lost in the city, it is up to Shaun to lead a rescue team. However, they soon attract the attention of a tenacious animal catcher, who will stop at nothing to see Shaun and his friends impounded.

Shaun is a character that I have a great fondness of, due to growing up in the company of Wallace & Gromit, with Shaun’s début in A Close Shave standing as a personal favourite of the W&G shorts. I am slightly too beyond the target audience for his TV series (even if I have dabbled), but he has continued to prove to be a popular character for Aardman to explore. The show plays like silent comedy, and the film-makers have been rather brave in keeping with that style for his cinematic venture. It allows for the format to develop more into the physical slapstick quality that Aardman are deft hands at.

Aardman have always proven capable of providing personality in characters who say very little. Gromit remains one of the most engaging animated characters of our time, and while the characters in Shaun the Sheep are not as endearing, they still have a remarkable amount of individuality for characters who only communicate through gestures and bleats.

The visual puns and background quirks that audiences have come to expect from Aardman are present and correct, but there is the sense that this particular property has not be made with adults in mind quite as much as their previous efforts. The sets are a bit cruder than some of their other work, while some of the jokes simply do not have the sophistication that the likes of Chicken Run exude. Shaun

Nonetheless, the dedication is, as always, clearly evident. No other form of animation exhibits the labour of the craft in the same way as stop-motion. The clear indents of finger-prints add to the charm rather than distract. They demonstrate that what you are seeing is a product of collective talents, working pain-stakingly around the clock to capture a single frame of film. It is for this reason that well-made stop-motion, with charming characters, is rather full proof when it comes to criticism. It is hard to critique something which has quite clearly been nurtured and cared for across every step of production. Shaun the Sheep Movie stands as yet another testament of the vibrant energy that the format can, and always does, provide. 4/5

My Top 10 Films of 2013!

2013 in film has been a year of spectacular bookends; a sandwiching of a disappointing summer between two periods of really high class cinema. Despite there being some gems within the May to August movie season, I think we can all agree much of what impressed this year in the cinema came within the first and last four months of the year. I very much feel this Top 10 will demonstrate such a notion, as well as highlighting to you, my much appreciated readers, what films are worth your time should you not have caught them yet. I have done my best in the last couple of weeks to cram a good few films in before composing this list in order for it to be as comprehensive as possible. But hey, even I can’t watch everything. Anyway, sit back, relax, and take in my film highlights of the year that was: 2013.

Honorable Mentions: Drinking Buddies, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Cloud Atlas, About Time, Rush, Les Miserables, Django Unchained

TheKingsofSummer10. The Kings of Summer (Dir: Jordan Vogt-Roberts)

As this list will go on to demonstrate, I am a sucker for coming-of-age movies. There is always something to relate to for anyone who has had to tackle the dark storm clouds of adolescence. Coming-of-age films all have the rather difficult task of differentiating themselves from the large pack of teen based dramas, and The Kings of Summer manages to find it in its unique blend of offbeat humour,  bittersweet sarcasm, and boy’s own adventure spirit. The film sees three friends; best pals Joe (soon to be seen in Jurassic World, Nick Robinson), & Patrick (Super 8’s Gabriel Basso), and weird lone-wolf Biaggio (The Middle‘s Moises Arias), running away from the stresses of suburban life and over-bearing parents into a forest, where they have built their own house together. With the plan to spend the summer on their own terms, it is not long until the realities of life and young love bring their fantasy crashing down to Earth. Everyone has had this kind of summer; the summer of unrequited crushes, the one where your parents never really know what you’re getting up to, and the summer where you just feel a burning desire to break free and discover who you are. As well as inflicting a heartwarming sense of nostalgia, debut director Voght-Roberts crafts a rather beautiful film, focusing on the natural surroundings of the lush forests of suburban Ohio, giving the film a unique visual identity to accompany its well trodden thematic path. The cast are also spot-on, with Robinson in particular turning in an impressive performance. It also feature a couple of sit-com favourites in the form of Alison Brie and the hilarious Nick Offerman. A little seen gem that deserves more love!

Frozen9. Frozen (Dir: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)

A great surprise this year came in the form of Disney’s latest cinematic offering, and is one that can join the ranks of their animated greats. While too late to say if it is part of a new renaissance period for Disney, it marks a continuation of quality from Disney, starting with The Princess and the Frog, through to Tangled and Wreck-It-Ralph. Featuring memorable songs from Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson Lopez, Frozen takes Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen tale and crafts its own story from it, namely through the relationship between two sisters; the older magical and tormented Elsa, and the free-spirited optimist Anna. Frozen has an infectious spirit, so while there is plenty to nit-pick, its good-natured tale, charming characters and wondrous visuals win you over within the first 10 minutes alone. It is a film which lures you into thinking that you know the tale, know exactly how everything will pan out to the Disney formula. Yet, Jennifer Lee’s script manages to throw in enough little surprises to allow Frozen to stand apart from recent Disney adventures. Frozen is still at cinema’s across the country now, so be sure to catch it while you still can. Also free to check out my full review here: https://andygaudion93.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/review-frozen-let-it-snow/

Prisoners Poster  8. Prisoners (Dir: Denis Villeneuve)

An icy affair in a much different way to the previous entry, Prisoners is a film of dark, brutal potency, and stands out as one of the most impressive thrillers in recent memory. After his and a friend’s daughter has been kidnapped, with the lead suspect released due to a lack of evidence, determined father Hugh Jackman takes matters into his own hands, capturing the suspect and exacting his own form of interrogation. All the while, meticulous detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) continues to lead the kidnapping investigation to find the girls as soon as possible. A tightly wound, amazingly taunt thriller, that never once loses your interest, despite a 150 minute run-time. I have not seen a thriller this efficient and stylish outside of a David Fincher movie in modern day Hollywood, with French/Canadian director Villeneuve orchestrating a nerve-shredding atmosphere of dread and despair. The film also features some of the best cinematography of the year from the master that is Roger Deakins, whilst also playing also to a powerful performance from the man beast that is Hugh Jackman. An angry performance fueled with primal rage that, in a film that has a lot going for it, proves to be the most memorable aspect of it.

PacficRim7. Pacific Rim (Dir: Guillermo del Toro)

The only summer blockbuster of my top 10 this year comes in the form of the Robot/Monster brawling epic; Pacific Rim. One of the rare original films this summer, (which in itself is a tribute to the Japanese Monster movie), Guillermo del Toro has produced a film that, on face value, looks like a film very much in the vein of a certain Michael Bay franchise. You could not be more wrong! The world of del Toro’s Pacific Rim is much more well thought out and passionately designed than any toy commercial Bay may produce. With Earth being invaded by inter-dimensional monsters (known as Kaiju) from deep within the Pacific, humanity’s last hope relies in the form of Jaeger robots: twin-piloted giant robots built specifically to battle the Kaiju to the death. Leading the final assault is Marshal Stacker Pentecoast (Idris Elba), who enlists the talents of young skilled pilot drop-out Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) to join a team who aim to end the terror of the Kaiju once and for all. The character’s are somewhat stock, but the involving action (in which you get a great sense of the physical toll these machines require to operate), gorgeous neon laced visuals, a commanding Elba performance, and all levels of weird and wonderful quirks make del Toro’s love letter to monster movies of the past the best blockbuster of the year. An action adventure powered by child-like glee and enthusiasm. In a word: awesome. Full review:https://andygaudion93.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/review-pacific-rim-domo-arigato-mr-del-toro/

Blue Jasmine Poster  6. Blue Jasmine (Dir: Woody Allen)

A Woody Allen film, despite all the great ones he has made, is still a hard thing to truly get excited about. He is one of the most hit and miss directors that one can think of. Yet, it is always easy to spot when he has delivered gold, indicated mainly by critics going a bit ga-ga. The last time that happened was Midnight in Paris, which found its way onto my top ten of 2011, and I am very happy to include another Allen gem this year. Detailing Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine’s attempts to re-organise her life after losing every penny she owns, Blue Jasmine is an engaging and witty exploration of depression and portrayal of life in a post-crash America. It is all anchored by the best female performance of the year in the form of Blanchett. Pure text-book acting, Blanchett modulates through numerous emotions within a scene with utter conviction and devastating grace. Jasmine is a modern tragic figure, who most of the time only has herself to blame for her misfortune, yet still manages to seem worthy of our sympathy. A very funny film with a sharp cynical edge that has been missing from Allen’s films of late, even his good ones. Allen hasn’t quite tapped in to the modern state of mind in such a way since the 70′, making for a refreshing change of tone and topic for him, delivered by one of the best ensemble casts of the year.

gravity-poster5. Gravity (Dir: Alfonso Cuarón)

The film that has topped many ‘best of’ lists this year comes right slap bang in the middle of mine. It is by far the best film of the year in regards to innovation in film-making; no other film this year, or for quite some time for that matter, has pushed the envelope of the form in quite the same way as Gravity. It is undoubtedly a masterpiece of technological brilliance, but in regards to emotional investment, it was somewhat lacking for me. Many more films worked much better on an emotional level, with Gravity relying heavily on its innovative effects and techniques, leaving much to be desired in the story stakes. Yet, it does not prioritize character development and story because it simply does not need to. Efficiently giving you just enough to work with, the film was an awe-inspiring experience in I-MAX 3-D. The visual spectacle of Gravity is second to none in the format, with amazingly immersive 3-D that enhanced the films visceral, nerve-shredding experience of human survival. That is what it boils down to in the end; it is a film about the strength of the human spirit in the face of danger and over-whelming odd, thematically rich in its imagery. It all amounts in the greatest visceral experience of the year, which should make filmmakers begin to look at the implications of 3-D and special effects in an entirely new perspective, with the hope being that Cuarón has inspired more creative and engaging means of employing the third dimension. Knowing Hollywood, it won’t be the case, but at least Cuarón is doing something different. And over $600 million at the box office speaks thousands of words.

Mud4. Mud (Dir: Jeff Nichols)

Another ‘coming-of-age’ picture comes in the form of Jeff Nichols third film, which also came to highlight a significant film in the rather fascinating resurgence of Matthew McConaughey as a dramatic actor. Following the young Ellis (Tye Sheridan), Mud is a modern American classic, as Ellis and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) find a wandering stranger called Mud (McConaughey). Striking a friendship with the young boys, Mud enlists their help to repair an abandoned boat and reunite him with his true love, Reese Witherspoon’s Juniper. The film embodies a strange whimsical fairy-tale spirit, with a dashing of Gothic sensibilities to deliver a film about like-minded spirits inhabiting a world in which their nature and character cannot co-exist with the reality of situations, where both a young boy and a man must face who they are and establish their stakes in this world. It is a film that does not condescend their naivety, it allows it to play its course, letting the characters grow within this distinct American environment. McConaughey is provides an emotive performance, playing highly on his character’s naivety, but also provides a great anchor for an impressive performance from the young Tye Sheridan, allowing the young actor to carry the picture with him, as both carry much of the emotional heavy-lifting of the narrative. A gorgeous, earth-soaked film with a unique visual aesthetic.

spectacular-now-final-poster3. The Spectacular Now (Dir: James Ponsoldt)

A film which will hopefully gain a wider UK release in the early months of this year when Shailene Woodley’s popularity grows as a result of the upcoming Divergent; The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age (oh hey again) film that manages to avoid a great many deal of the pratfalls of the genre, simply down to how honest it is. Working as almost a re-working of Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything, the film follows Miles Teller’s Sutter during the summer beginning with his high school graduation. Fresh off a break-up with his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson), Sutter finds friendship in the seemingly unremarkable Aimee (Woodley). While initially seeing her as a project, Sutter begins to find that he has genuine affection for her. All the while, he battles his own demons concerning his absent father and the looming decisions he has to make about his future. The pairing of Teller and Woodley is nothing short of beautiful; both are natural and charming performers on their own but together they create something quite, well, spectacular. Woodley in particular demonstrates why her star is rising, turning in a performance very different to that of The Descendants, while also demonstrating quite how naturally beautiful she is, in a role which requires her to wear little to no make-up for most of the run-time. Teller invokes the spirit of a young John Cusack and mines surprising depths, particularly in the film’s emotionally charged final third. A film that is very much about living in the now, but mindful of how what has happened in the past, and what may happen in the future, can shape the person you are ‘in the moment.’ Irresistible, genuine, and sweet; The Spectacular Now is impossible not to fall for.

ActofKilling2. The Act of Killing (Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer)

If you only see one film from this list, then please, for the love of all that is human, make it this one. Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary is a bizarre and unique beast. The film’s subject matter concerns ex-members of state Death Squads from under Indonesia’s Military Dictatorship in the 1960’s; namely two gangsters who went from selling black market movie tickets to leading Death Squads across North Sumatra, killing anybody suspected of being a communist or who chose to disobey the regime. The two men, Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry, agree to allow Oppenheimer to film recreations of their killings through the discourse of any genre of their choosing. As Oppenheimer helped make their film, he made one of his own, highlighting the bizarre and utterly unbelievable behavior and attitudes of these men. The re-creation of the atrocities they performed on behalf of the state bewilder and disturb, as does their manipulation of people around them as they embark on making their film. What is hardest to swallow though is the demeanor and attitude that these men still have, believing themselves to be men who simply did the right thing. An uncompromising vision of a dark underbelly of human nature which also provides the most fascinating figure of the year in the form of Anwar Congo. The only man who seems to regret his past life is shown to have a crisis of self and is quite clearly haunted by the memories of his past, which are brought back to life during the course of his film-making experience, making him re-evaluate his past life. Powerful, important, and unmissable. Special thanks to Paul Mcloughlin for bringing this film to my attention.

the-place-beyond-the-pines-poster1. The Place Beyond the Pines- (Dir: Derek Cianfrance)

There you have it, my number one film of the year, and one that I came to rather late in the game, having only just watched it in the past month. Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines can easily sit as an American classic, with an utterly epic sense of scope and thematic landscaping. Accounting the tale of two men and their path of collision in life (Ryan Goslings motor-cycle Stuntman, and Bradley Cooper’s police officer), the film offers a journey of narrative complexity and invokes a macabre sense of mysticism and predetermination in human destiny. Following on from his Blue Valentine, a film that I frankly found to be something akin to depression porn, Cianfrance shows that he is a director of sophistication and filmic prowess. Every single shot of this film is utterly beautiful, easily standing as the best shot film of the year that didn’t require green-screen. Accompanied by an haunting and absorbing score and carefully measured performances, Pines is practical film-making at its most bare boned; allowing characters to form, relationships to build, and eventually crash and burn. A truly great film is measured on how much of a rewarding experience it is, and by its re-watchability, with the hope being that each time you witness it, the film will offer more secrets and even more rewards for you to un-earth. I viewed Pines twice in quick succession and found it utterly mesmerizing each time, and cannot wait to delve back into its exploration of innocence lost, familial relationships, and human destiny once again. An assured, confident, and masterful piece of film-making.

As always, to see out the year in film, I shall now provide you with a brilliantly edited tribute to the film’s of the year, courtesy of Gen Ip. I hope you all have a marvelous New Year, and enjoyed this year of film, one that has been littered with some true greats. Here’s to the next 12 months of cinematic exploits!

Review: Frozen- Let it Snow!

Frozen-1I am always skeptical of movies which receive praise along the lines of: ‘Disney’s best since The Lion King.‘ For a film to have such a label attached to it is not fair to the film itself, or to the other Disney films in-between. Yet, this is something that Frozen has been stuck with. It is a big ask for a film to reach that benchmark, as The Lion King is a film that quite rightly stands out as one of (if not) the best of Disney’s Renaissance Era (from 1989 to 1999). So I tried to put that comparison out of my mind, and I suggest you do the same. It would not be fair to the film that is Frozen. However, it must be said, Frozen is one of the most impressive Disney movies to come out in recent years, following hot on the heels of Tangled; delivering a spirited, exciting, and down right beautiful experience.

A re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen tale, the film focuses on the relationship between two sisters, the Princesses of Arendelle; Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa was born with the ability to create snow and ice, and is scared by the possibilities of her abilities. During her coronation, Elsa loses control of her abilities and throws the kingdom of Arendelle into an eternal winter. With Elsa hiding somewhere in the forest, the free-spirited Anna takes it upon herself to find her sister and bring summer back to Arendelle. She soon finds assistance in the form of ice-carver mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer companion Sven, and an enchanted snowman by the name of Olaf (Josh Gad).Frozen-2

Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen tale has been in the hands of the Mouse House since the 1950’s, and ever since it has had difficulty trying to find how to successful adapt the character to the big screen. Ironically enough, they found the character a bit too cold and hard to relate to. The answer to this conundrum seems to have been to introduce a sister, which works a treat. The two characters of Elsa and Anna mark a refreshing change for the model of the Disney Princess. They are both much more independent characters, with individual personalities. Elsa is a tortured soul who wants nothing but to show how much she loves her younger sister, while Anna is an energetic and highly excitable, if somewhat naive, optimist. They both feel like fully-fledged characters and are given an abundance of personality from the fine vocals of the hugely talented Menzel and Bell.

The narrative progression of Frozen does not hold many surprises in regards to how one expects a Disney movie to unfold. After a highly emotional opening ten minutes (there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house), the film takes its footing on a well trodden path, hitting the beats we’d expect it to. However, while it may seem very traditional, there are some surprises along the way which truly make this stand out as one of Disney’s stronger efforts of recent years. We know how this story will ultimately end, but we may not be quite so sure on how the film will get there, leading to a thoroughly refreshing spin on the quest for love. It is clever, relevant, and shows true growth in the company as a Studio responding to the modern age.

Frozen-3Where the film strives to be a more traditional Disney movie is where the film struggles at times. Its desire to have an antagonist within the tale leads to some rather rushed and predictable plot developments that do not feel convincing or particularly well conceived. The film does not have many action set-pieces to speak of, with the film struggling on the bridge between the second and third act, never quite knowing what direction it wants to take the story in; does it make Elsa the antagonist, or does it try to find that conflict elsewhere? Eventually it settles on its footing, but it slips on the ice trying to get there. However, the film’s strengths far out weigh its weaknesses, and its strengths lie exactly where an animated Disney movies strengths should; in its artistry and musical numbers.

The animation within Frozen is simply beautiful. You feel the passion behind each animated pixel, as the animators do their utmost to tap the artistic potential out of the story of the Snow Queen. The way the snow glistens, the way the snow falls, the way the ice forms; everything is so stunningly realized that it is just a joy to behold (particularly in 3-D). The musical numbers, courtesy of Tony Award-Winning husband-wife pair Roberto and Kristen Anderson Lopez, are highly memorable and lyrically energetic and touching. The highlight has to be the main number ‘Let It Go’. With powerful thematically relevant lyrics being blasted out with gusto by Idina Menzel, the number soars above the rest and can quite easily stand shoulder to shoulder with some of Disney’s best numbers (expect to see it in many a Best Song category come February time). It is also focused around Elsa constructing her ice palace, which just so happens to also be the highlight in regards to the animation. A stunning sequence and song that demonstrate the loving craft and devotion that has obviously been given to this film. Frozen-4

Frozen will be a film that will come to characterize what I think is almost a second renaissance period for Disney. The last three movies from Disney Animation Studio’s (pretending Planes does not exist) have all been hailed as some of the studio’s best; Frozen, Wreck-It-Ralph, and Tangled. While Frozen may not seem to be as original as either of those two films, which it is not, it is by far my favourite of the three. It manages to withhold much of what defines an animation as a Disney film, while adapting itself to more modern sensibilities and attitudes, a blend which was completely void in Ralph, and something which was done with less aplomb in Tangled. Frozen is a heart-warming tale that is perfect viewing in this winter season, and is a film that will most certainly join the ranks of Disney’s best animated classics.

4/5- A traditional Disney movie with some surprising tweaks along the way, Frozen is enough to warm even the coldest of hearts this Christmas. Simply a joy.