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Disney Stays Hot with ‘Frozen’

Caelin Miltko | Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Disney announced the release of “The Princess and the Frog,” the Disney traditionalist in me wondered why anyone would try to restart a franchise that already had so many great movies. The Disney Princess franchise ended in 1998 with “Mulan” and my brain couldn’t comprehend how Disney expected to restart it and live up to expectations set by such classics as “Snow White,” “The Beauty and the Beast,” and “Cinderella.”
Now, four movies into the new Disney princesses, I have to admit I’m more attached to the new princesses than I am with those from the pre-1998 films. Tiana, Rapunzel, and Merida all display independence and self-reliance that are somewhat lacking in the princesses before Mulan – the two new stars of “Frozen” are no exception.
Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are the two princesses of Arendelle. The pair is nearly inseparable until the powers Elsa was born with threaten Anna’s life. After this, Elsa isolates herself from Anna, hiding her power to create ice and snow and attempting to control it by suppressing her magic. In true Disney fashion, this backfires and Elsa sends Arendelle into an eternal winter and runs away into the mountains.
This ties Anna to the task of finding her sister to reverse the magic with the help of iceman Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). She leaves her fiancé, Hans (Santino Fontana), in charge of the kingdom while she goes off to save her sister and Arendelle.
Princess Anna is adorably awkward, stumbling over her words and waking up with particularly bad bed head. In contrast, Princess Elsa acts the perfect princess but adds a darker layer to the traditional elder sister versus younger sister battle. Despite being the apparent villain of the film, Elsa’s actions become understandable as an attempt to protect her sister, even if any audience member over the age of twelve knows that denying inner nature never works out for characters in Disney movies.
Comic relief comes primarily from the snowman Olaf. He dreams of seeing the summer and seeing what happens to frozen water in the heat.
The singing in “Frozen” also distinguishes the movie from many of its counterparts, though not always positively. The actors sing all the songs in the movie, though Demi Lovato did release a single of the film’s best song, “Let It Snow.” Idina Menzel played the original Elphaba in the Broadway musical “Wicked” and shows off her impressive voice in the movie. While many of the songs in the movie fit well, occasionally they seem awkwardly placed, beginning with little to no warning and ending just as abruptly.
Even if the singing was a little heavy handed, “Frozen” does attempt to update the traditional Disney storyline. Just as the audience believes it is going to follow the conventional map of “true love” in movies, the story changes and an “act of true love” becomes something else entirely.
I wouldn’t say that “Frozen” is Disney’s most brilliant movie ever, especially because part of me thinks “Tangled” is the best of the more recent Disney animated films. That said, I think it fits nicely into the family-friendly franchise.
The focus of the movie is on the relationship between the two sisters and not on any possible suitors they may have. If it relies a little too much on Disney clichés, I don’t mind too much. After all, the movie isn’t meant to make me reevaluate my entire life.
All in all, I enjoyed this movie – possibly more than the four year old I took with me to the theater. The focus on the sisters’ relationship and how it changed as they grew up appealed to the older sister in me, and I fully intend on seeing the movie again with both my younger sisters.
Contact Caelin Miltko at cmoriari@nd.edu