‘Frozen’ princess tale will melt young hearts

The Washington Times Daily - - Television -

Dis­ney’s princess films, like “Poc­a­hon­tas” and “The Lit­tle Mer­maid,” come in for crit­i­cism for their por­trayal of damsels in dis­tress who re­quire the ser­vices of young princes to save them from all man­ner of peril.

“Frozen” takes the crit­i­cism to heart. In this an­i­mated, mu­si­cal tale of loy­alty and re­demp­tion set in a lonely Nordic king­dom, sis­ters are def­i­nitely do­ing it for them­selves. There are shades of “Twi­light” here, with tor­tured teens and dark pow­ers. Elsa (voiced by Id­ina Men­zel) is af­flicted with the abil­ity to turn things to ice with her touch. As a young child, Elsa used the power to delight her younger sis­ter Anna (Kris­ten Bell), but an ac­ci­dent left Anna near death, and led her par­ents to iso­late Elsa from con­tact with peo­ple, sep­a­rat­ing the sis­ters. “Con­ceal it, don’t feel it” be­comes Elsa’s mantra as she grows up.

The par­ents soon die, as they so of­ten do in fairy tales, leav­ing Elsa and Anna alone in their des­o­late cas­tle, de­void of hu­man con­tact, even with each other. But when Elsa’s coronation day ar­rives, cus­tom re­quires that she open the cas­tle to vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries and her own sub­jects. That day, the gullible, op­ti­mistic Anna meets hand­some Prince Hans (Santino Fon­tana) from a neigh­bor­ing king­dom. Their en­counter quickly morphs into an en­gage­ment, a de­vel­op­ment that is not re­ceived well by now-Queen Elsa. She doesn’t just lose her cool — her pow­ers erupt, trans­form­ing the mild sum­mer into a deep winter freeze, lock­ing boats into place in the fjord and mak­ing trade and travel im­pos­si­ble.

Lib­er­ated by her trans­for­ma­tion into an ice queen, Elsa de­camps to a frozen fortress of her own de­sign on a moun­tain high above the town. She in­tends to abide in her own des­o­la­tion, but her loyal sis­ter Anna is de­ter­mined to redeem her, and to get her to maybe un­freeze the town so that all the coronation party guests can get home in their schooners. It’s a hard job just find­ing her, but she gets help from the rus­ti­cated but still hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff ) as a guide on the steep moun­tain land­scape. Kristoff has his own in­ter­est in putting things back to nor­mal — he makes a liv­ing haul­ing ice from snowy moun­tains to the warmer towns. With the help of his faith­ful rein­deer Sven, they make their way to Elsa’s lair and try to con­vince her to re­turn.

What fol­lows isn’t en­tirely un­ex­pected, if you have seen more than a few of these movies. But the story un­folds in a few sur­pris­ing ways, with as much em­pha­sis on the com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship be­tween the sis­ters as on Anna’s ro­man­tic awak­en­ing. There’s a fair bit of comic re­lief, pro­vided by Olaf (Josh Gad), a snow­man who dreams of frol­ick­ing on the beach in sum­mer, and by a fam­ily of mag­i­cal trolls who take a root­ing in­ter­est in Kristoff ’s pur­suit of Anna’s af­fec­tions.

A lot of cre­ative mus­cle went into “Frozen.” There are eight orig­i­nal songs from Kris­ten An­der­son-Lopez and Robert Lopez (he co-wrote songs for Broad­way hits “Av­enue Q” and “The Book of Mor­mon”). The widescreen 3-D an­i­ma­tion is at times breath­tak­ing, es­pe­cially the glit­ter­ing, crys­talline ice palace cre­ated by Elsa in her wrath. The ac­tion se­quences are crisp, and care is taken to keep them plau­si­ble within the con­text of the story. There are fre­quent vis­ual al­lu­sions to mem­o­rable mo­ments from films rang­ing from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “The Lord of the Rings” tril­ogy.

“Frozen” works with a short clock, and wraps up a lot of loose ends rather quickly at the end, but on the other hand it’s not likely to try the pa­tience of older view­ers, and it’s doubt­ful that chil­dren will get too bent out of shape by plot con­trivances. “Frozen” is more about heart, and song, and com­pelling vi­su­als than the sto­ry­line. While it’s not go­ing to take its place in the fir­ma­ment of Dis­ney clas­sics, “Frozen” is likely to be a hit with young movie­go­ers this hol­i­day sea­son. TI­TLE: CRED­ITS: Di­rected by

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