The Walt Disney Animation Studios came out with winner in 2013’s “Frozen,” which features an unhappy princess named Elso with special powers. She lives in a world of self-imposed isolation because she possesses the power to freeze everything instantly. Her loving parents, the King and Queen of the fortress kingdom of Arendelle, lock her away to keep her from freezing everything in sight. This confuses her sister, Princess Anna, who doesn’t know about her powers but wonders why Elsa wants to shut everyone and everything out. Anna tries for years to connect with her sister, who lives behind closed doors in a giant room in the palace.
Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck adapted the story from a Hans Christian Anderson piece called “The Snow Queen,” but make quite a few changes to the plot. The movie has lots of trolls, a wisecracking snowman named Olaf, a lovable reindeer and an angry snow monster. It doesn’t stray into much dark territory, and can be described as a mild romantic adventure with a key theme: That only love can thaw a frozen heart. The princesses, the snowman, and the trolls also sing a few good songs, and the story throws in some odd funny characters, such as a heavily-accented Norseman who runs a mountain sauna and an effete and vengeful ambassador from a neighboring kingdom.
The film features excellent color saturation, which looks superb on my wide-screen plasma television. The contrast provided by the many scenes of white snow helps pop the colors. Elsa’s power consists of making everything frosty quickly, so there are lots of scenes showing creeping animated frost. When Anna goes off to find her sister in the mountains, the whites, browns and shadows are only accented by the orange of Olaf’s carrot nose. Relief from these colors comes in an entertaining way when Olaf sings a very funny song about the summer, which features him fantasizing about basking on a sunny beach. A running gag in the movie concerns Olaf’s misunderstanding of heat.
Frozen is definitely a young people’s movie, with simple ideas about family, love and responsibility. The snow monster, a few henchmen from another land and a devious prince help augment the main conflict between Anna and Elsa. It all moves at a quick pace with some good songs. As in all good animation films, one can discover more of its fine detail with repeated viewings. Like Walt Disney, I like magical kingdoms and this one works for me.