Blu-ray Review: Frozen
I have a confession: I am a huge fan of the movie Frozen. If you were hoping for a proper critique of the movie from this cold hearted cinephile, you won’t find it.
It was inevitable that I would adore the movie from the moment it was announced. As a lifelong musical theatre and Disney fan I screamed in glee when I heard that Disney studios were developing a refreshingly new animated musical by the songwriting team behind the Tony award winning plays Avenue Q and Book of Mormon. Better still, the cast was slated to include Broadway musical stars Idina Menzel (of Rent, Wicked and If/Then fame), Josh Gad (of Book of Mormon) and Jonathan Groff (star of Spring Awakening). I was ecstatic. To say my expectations were high when I first walked into the screening of the film, would be a mountainous understatement. Happily, I am very pleased to announce that Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen did not disappoint.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the movie revolves around princesses Anna (Kristen Bell) and (later Queen) Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) road to self discovery and awakening to the essence of true love. Born with the awe-inspiring magical power to create snow and ice, young Elsa of Arendelle accidentally injures Anna as they play one night and is thence forced by her magisterial parents as a precaution to live secluded from her sister. Years later, after their parents’ untimely death by shipwreck, the now Queen Elsa accidentally sets off an eternal winter when emotions run high again with her unabashedly idealistic yet lonesome sister. Ashamed of what she’s accomplished, Elsa hurriedly escapes from their home and creates an ice castle of her own high up in the snowy mountains. With the help of cuddly snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), a Greek chorus of mystical trolls, “fixer upper” Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his sidekick reindeer Sven, Anna must embark on a Yellow Brick Road-like journey to save the kingdom and her torrid relationship with her sister.
From the gorgeous visuals to the catchy songs, there are myriad details to love about Frozen. When discussing the movie with friends and strangers alike I’ve discovered that everyone has connected to the movie in very different yet personal ways. Some have extolled its virtues in dealing with grief in a realistic manner while others have related to its central sisters and their struggles with growing apart from one another. It seems all viewers can concur that “for the first time in forever” Disney has created two heroines (“adorkable” Anna and insecure Elsa) that are highly relatable, no matter what one’s life story may be.
For cinephiles, one of the movie’s genuine treats was that it so simply yet succinctly captured the crux of other cinematic holiday offerings in one of its bon mots. In the song ‘Fixer Upper’, the line “His isolation is confirmation of his desperation for healing hugs” is essentially the central thesis for the films ‘Her’, ‘All is Lost’, and ‘Gravity’. Elsa’s personal odyssey in Frozen closely parallels those taken by the protagonists in the aforementioned films, yet her character had more gravitas and was more multi layered than any of the others’.
While I have no issues with the movie itself, I was a tad disappointed with the Collector’s Edition multi format disc that Walt Disney Studios just released. The audio and video transfers are breathtaking, but for a so-called collector’s edition, the disc was sorely lacking in special features. Noticeably absent was footage from the recent sing-along event in Hollywood that featured a surprise appearance by Josh Gad, not to mention a sing-along track that would have been perfect for children of all ages. Also surprisingly missing from the deleted scenes were the delightful yet cut songs written by Oscar winning married duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Andersen-Lopez, previously included in the iTunes exclusive version of the movie soundtrack. I won’t spoil the surprise, but the ‘Making of Frozen’ featurette is a musical theatre fiend’s dream, and almost makes up for the deficiencies in the special features.
In Olaf’s showstopper ‘In Summer’ he sings that, “winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle”. I choose to heed that advice and cuddle up to my loved ones with my beloved Frozen.