* * * * and a half!
by Hector Mackenzie
JUDGING by the age range of the crowd at the Eden Court screening I saw – about three years to 70, at a guess – the latest Disney offering may boast the studio’s widest audience reach in decades.
The omens for this big budget epic, brought to the screen by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, are good too if you cast your mind back to the success of another animated musical based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale – 1989’s The Little Mermaid.
Frozen is based on the Danish author’s The Snow Queen, in this version centring on the trials and tribulations of Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have resulted in a lonely life of isolation – even from the sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), to whom she was once so close.
Frozen turns out to be a treat for all the senses, a playful song right from the get-go signalling it out as an unashamed musical. The songs by and large fizz with a joyful exuberance, no mere fillers but helping in themselves to shade in the characters and drive the story forward.
The contrast between the sisters – fearless optimist Anna and the withdrawn, cautious Elsa – provides the perfect platform to untangle the main theme at the heart of the story.
When her sister goes into self-imposed exile, Anna teams up with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) in an epic journey towards a snow-capped mountain on which Elsa has constructed her remote icy abode. In addition to seeking a sisterly reconciliation she has longed for since she was a little girl, Anna is also driven by the quest to release the kingdom from the icy grip of an eternal winter.
The fun begins when Anna, Kristoff and Olaf (Josh Gad), a goofy, loveable snowman who likes the idea of heat and summer and simply will not be put down, team up to fulfil their vital mission. The one-liners fly thick and fast and there’s bags of action between some memorable songs, such as
Do You Want to Build a Snowman? and For The First Time In Forever.
Love, loyalty and betrayal are all present and correct and you may even find yourself taken aback by a couple of unexpected (to me) plot twists…
Olaf it is who gets the best line as his very existence is threatened in front of a log fire: “Some people are worth melting for.”
The animation is up there with Disney’s best yet, a winter-gripped Norwegian kingdom very convincingly brought to life. There are some stunning sequences centring around the rapid formation of ice and everything from princess to snowman to reindeer is made to come alive believably. Elsa’s character might have benefited from greater development, particularly as she must rank as one of the most complex, conflicted intriguing princess creations in years.
In the same way that Disney’s Tangled (the story of Rapunzel) was cleverly repackaged to appeal to a wider demographic (that is boys as well as girls), so does Frozen (The Snow Queen) build up its male lead. That’s not to say that it won’t appeal to your own little princesses – it most certainly will.
For full details of cinema listings across the North, go to our website: www.whatson-north.co.uk
Frozen is being screened at Eden Court, Inverness, until January 2 (for full details and booking go to: www.eden-court.co.uk) and at Vue Inverness ( 0871 224 0240). It's also at: Spey Valley Cinema, Aviemore Macdonald Resort Frozen 2D and 3D on Friday (Dec 27), Sunday (Dec 29), Tue (Dec 31), Wed (Jan 1) and Fri (Jan 3). Phone 0844 879 9152. Thurso Cinema on Christmas Eve 2.20pm and 4.30pm and on Boxing Day at 1.15pm and 3.30pm. For full details go to: www.thursocinema.co.uk And in Elgin at Moray Playhouse on Chirstmas Eve at 1.30pm and on Boxing Day at 2.30pm. For full details go to: www.caledoniancinemas.co.uk