Monday, 31 March 2014


Release Date: Out Now (Monday 31 March 2014)

Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk (voices)

Reviewed by Kyle Pedley


Disney are riding high on the (admittedly deserved) success of Frozen, having last month added two Academy Awards (Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song) to it’s now sizable mantle of gongs and plaudits, a Broadway musical adaptation confirmed as being in the works and just today having been announced as officially the most successful animated film of all time, surpassing previous record holder Toy Story 3. Arriving on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital HD this week is no doubt only going to add to the cultural behemoth that the film has become.
The result of a decade-long attempt by Disney to get the classical tale of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen into their roster of fairytale adaptations, Frozen is big, beautiful Disney storytelling at it’s most enchanting and classical. Depicting the story of princesses Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) who are forced to live their lives separately after a childhood near-tragedy exposes the danger behind Elsa’s wintery sorcerous powers, these powers once again erupt in adulthood, leading Elsa to exile herself into the wilderness (not only one of the films standout scenes but one of the most beautiful and ethereal sequences of the entire Disney back catalogue) unknowingly leaving her kingdom blanketed in an eternal winter. Anna sets out to find her sister in the hopes of freeing their kingdom, aided by rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his trusty Reindeer Sven (who bears more than a passing similarity to Tangled’s Maximus) and scene-stealing miniature snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) who has been brought to life by Elsa’s powers.
Frozen nips and borrows from a whole plethora of familiar Disney storytelling tropes and ideas, and re-assuringly very definitely feels like old school and renaissance Disney all at once, but fundamentally works so well as it tells a thoroughly human tale with extremely likable and engaging leads. Anna is a peppy, somewhat naive yet resourceful and spirited Princess in the vein of some of the studios more recent heroines (Rapunzel in particular) whilst Elsa carries the burden of her ‘curse’ and is a more forlorn, burdened and borderline tragic figure throughout. It’s a neat contrast, and the sisters are dissimilar yet close enough to make their plight and relationship an empathetic and involving one. Disney rarely busies their films by offering such an even and involved protagonist split, but Frozen certainly feels like a more rounded and mature outing by so successfully implementing the ‘two sides of the same coin’ notion, and it is a welcome change to see sibling love take front and centre over traditional romance.
As mentioned, Frozen is fundamentally and inarguably a big, sweeping movie musical, and Broadway songwriter-composer Robert Lopez (who penned music for such major shows as Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon) and partner Kristen Anderson-Lopez offer a soundtrack that, as is true of the film as a whole, harkens back to classical Disney, offers shades of its early 90’s renaissance whilst still managing to feel profoundly contemporary and characterful in it’s own right. The duo’s Broadway experience can be felt throughout, particularly in such numbers as Idina Menzel’s already seminal show-stopper ‘Let It Go’ and the inherent storytelling theatricality of ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ and ‘For the First Time in Forever’.
It should almost go without saying that Frozen is a stunning achievement from an artistic and technical standpoint. From familiar and distinctly-esque Disney character designs to stunning  environments that tread a careful but imaginative balance between realistic and fairytale, Frozen is also aided by its distinctive wintery theming that lends itself well to a cohesive and truly stunning film, offering undoubtedly one of the finest-looking animated movies of all time. There are sequences of almost breathless beauty and storyboarding invention that round out the sensory delight that Frozen offers in abundance.
A beautifully made and passionately constructed piece of classic Disney storytelling with the studios trademark industry-leading standard of artistry, Frozen has quite rightly became the kind of animated phenomenon that is difficult to pre-empt but impossible to ignore. Fortunately, it is more than deserving of this success, and its stunning home release transfer, particularly on Blu-Ray, make it one of the studios absolute must-owns.
Another disappointingly slight offering from Disney, though thankfully the quality of the film itself as well as its gorgeous HD transfer still makes this a must-own home release, particularly for animation enthusiasts and fans of the House of Mouse. There are four deleted scenes with introductions by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, though it’s a shame given their short length and paucity that they are no more than sketched storyboarding. Four different international versions of the music video for ‘Let It Go’ (the poppier Demi Lovato version, unfortunately) feel a little superfluous, and the only trailer present is the admittedly still-funny Sven and Olaf teaser.
There’s a short but nicely retrospective look at some of the studios history with the Hans Christian Anderson origins of Frozen’s story, which neatly ties in with the wonderfully inventive, Oscar-nominated short from the studio, Get A Horse, which is a wonderful symbiosis of Disney old and new and this feels the perfect release for it to be tied with (having played before Frozen in cinemas).
The most contentious feature is undoubtedly ‘The Making of Frozen’, which in actuality is anything but - instead a well-produced musical sequence featuring Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff and Kristen Bell (voices of Olaf, Kristof and Anna respectively) as they sing and dance their way around the animation studio in what appears to be a rather tongue-in-cheek and knowingly over-the-top prelude to a making of... which doesn’t exist. The sequence ends on a punchline of nobody knowing how the film was made, but it is difficult to feel that despite its irony and charm, it’s a bit of a cop-out and disappointing, with an additional lack of any form of commentary, to not have anything in the way of tangible behind-the-scenes or making-of material.

MOVIE RATING: * * * * (4 out of 5 Stars)

HOME RELEASE (transfer, bonus features etc.): * * * (3 out of 5 Stars)

FROZEN is OUT NOW on Blu-Ray, DVD, Ultraviolet and Digital Formats nationwide in the UK.

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This review copy of Frozen was provided courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland, directly. (A)musings Media gratefully acknowledges their contribution and support.

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