4 stars
John Lasseter has made good on his intention to restore the Magic Kingdom to its former glory. First by folding the ongoing Pixar phenomenon into the Disney stable (check), then producing the 2D hand drawn glory of Tangled (check) and now the 3D fairy tale musical sensation that is Frozen. For this is a sensational film – from the winning prince-meets-princess opener through complicated emotion and love's true kiss to soaring production numbers that would give Eurovision a run for its money (big hair, bigger wind machines – check and check). It is, dare I say it, magical.

Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen, this girls-own tale opens at a distant time in a distant land when young Princess Elsa's magical secret nearly kills her beloved sister. To keep Anna safe, Elsa goes into voluntary hiding until the day she inherits the crown but another accident plunges the realm into a deep, forbidding winter. When Elsa flees, Anna tries to coax her back knowing her sister is the only one who can save them. Enter a handsome prince, a dashing trader, his trusty reindeer, singing trolls and Olaf a talking snowman who dreams of summer, and the stage is set for a return to the classic days of Disney. Did I mention a villain? There's always a villain.

Having worked on Pocahontas and The Little Mermaid, then as director with Tarzan, Chris Buck knows what made those features among Disney's most memorable. He knows the importance of character, connection, emotion, and how sidekicks and minions are, of themselves, not enough. It would be churlish to say that Frozen is simply a textbook example of how to make a classic, even though that's exactly what he and co-director / screenwriter Jennifer Lee (Wreck It Ralph) have achieved. Disassembled then lovingly reconstructed with a gorgeous, contemporary veneer, Frozen is given a kick into goal with the exceptional (and exceptionally catchy) songs of Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Elsa's anthemic Let It Go is the film at its chilling best as she builds herself a crystalline ice palace and locks out the world: a scene that looks as good as it sounds (both are goose-bump inducing) and one that is extraordinarily liberating,in a counter-intuitive kind of way.

But at the film's heart is, well, heart. A big, beating pile of love that binds everyone together as Anna's actions teach us that fear is not a good enough reason to hate. It's been a Disney staple since Bambi was orphaned and serves them just as well in 2013. The difference between then and now is purely technical and Frozen has that covered in (snow) spades. The film resonates and oscillates to the commands of an army of digital artists who've created a simply beautiful experience. It's what Disney does best. It's magical.


Previewed at Event Cinemas, George St, Sydney on 2 December 2013



Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Chris Buck
Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Lee



108 minutes

December 26, 2013
Frozen (2013) on IMDb
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