Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Short Cut Movie Review: Frozen

Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.

Disney’s Frozen is a loose (very loose) adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale The Snow Queen. As an example of classic Disney animation, it succeeds wonderfully. This is gorgeously rendered computer animation. The palette is beautiful icy blues blended with crystalline whites with lots of shine and sparkle. The story, by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Shane Morris is at least more contemporary in theme than Disney’s princess movies have typically been, by which I mean this isn’t strictly about a young woman desperate to meet a man to marry. Buck and Lee directed the film.

Elsa is the young woman with the often uncontrollable power to turn the world around her to ice. She’s spent the majority of her youth and first years of adulthood locked away from the world. Her sister Anna has no memory of what she can do. Both women want the best for each other and their primary goals are, in the case of Elsa, to avoid hurting her sister, and for Anna, to have a normal life with access to and a relationship with Elsa.

Unable to resist the temptation to include adorable non-human characters, there is a snowman come to life named Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), who has the best musical number in the movie in which he sings about his desire to experience summer and warm sunshine. There’s also an interesting colony of little trolls with the film’s second best number. Unfortunately, the rest of the songs are close to dreadful. They capture little of the classical style Disney used to do best. The music by Robert Lopez sounds like contemporary pop rock: the same spiritless, over-produced music for mass consumption that we get from any of the TV talent contest shows. Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s lyrics often don’t help, performing the function that too many modern musicals utilize which is to have dialogue and narration sung rather than spoken. Songs in musicals should express ideas and emotions rather than actions and instructions. Incidentally, the singing by Kristen Bell as Anna and Idina Menzel as Elsa veers into ear-splitting awfulness. When Menzel strikes the high notes in her big song, I literally cringed and winced at the piercing shriek. But this is what passes for good singing today – the tightly strained and forced cries that would never pass muster outside popular opinion. It would have been much better movie without the songs.

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