'Frozen' treat for adults and children alike
Although as an animated film its target audience is typically children, Disney's "Frozen" has something for all ages.
With stunning visuals and soaring vocals, it is sure to become a favorite for kids and adults alike.
Set in a mountain kingdom, "Frozen" tells the story of two princesses: Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell).
Elsa possesses magical powers that allow her to produce ice and snow using only her hands.
Initially this power is a source of delight to the children, but it proves dangerous when Elsa accidentally blasts Anna with ice, nearly killing her.
Magical trolls heal Anna but remove all her memories of Elsa's powers.
To keep her powers secret and to protect her family, Elsa retreats to her bedroom for years on end, while Anna is left lonely and confused by her absence.
Years later, right after her coronation, Elsa's powers are revealed.
Horrified, she runs from the castle but accidentally curses the kingdom with an endless winter.
Anna bravely sets out to find her sister, acquiring the help of a lonely mountain man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a living snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) along the way.
Like previously successful animated films, "Frozen" blends humor, adventure, romance, and family drama to create an enormously likeable film.
One of its departures from most fairy tales, and one of its greatest strengths, is its focus on the relationship between Elsa and Anna.
While the film is finally about true love, it does not, like so many other princess films, insist that love is only possible with a Prince Charming.
Visually, the film captures the terrible beauty of winter.
The adorable snowman Olaf looks soft and cuddly, while delicate snowflakes springing from Elsa's hands are breathtaking.
We also see the dark side of winter weather, however, as animated blizzards gust across the screen.
The film's true achievement, though, lies in its magnificent score.
Broadway singer Idina Menzel restrains her voice to portray Elsa's repressed spirit in the beginning of the film.
When the time comes for Elsa to liberate herself from her parents' mandate to "be the good girl you always have to be," Menzel belts out the lyrics of the iconic song "Let It Go," which was just nominated for an Oscar for best original song.
Kristen Bell, best known for her role in the TV show "Veronica Mars," surprises with her stunning vocals as Anna.
Her sweet voice portrays Anna as quirky and upbeat, noticeably different from her withdrawn sister.
Along with another character, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana), she sings the upbeat tune "Love Is an Open Door."
Josh Gad as Olaf drives the humor of the film, especially in a song called "In Summer," when the naÃ¯ve snowman imagines his lifelong dream of playing in the summer sun.
Later, outspoken trolls remind the audience that everyone is a "Fixer Upper."
Christophe Beck's orchestral score uses some traditional Norwegian instruments and accompanies the film perfectly.
The film does not shy away from difficult themes like loss, loneliness, death and betrayal.
Its decision to tackle the real parts of life makes the characters that much more endearing.
Though a happy ending was inevitable (it is a Disney movie, after all), the road there was circuitous, unpredictable, and at times hilarious.
The winner of the Golden Globe for best animated feature film and an Oscar nominee in the same category, "Frozen" is a beautiful journey that audiences will want to experience again and again.
Contrary to its title and icy scenery, it will warm your heart.
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