Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

I’m glad but a little surprised that Frozen is doing so well.

Elsa in dress, cloak, and tiara standing in a stark, icy setting as it snows
Image © 2013 Disney Enterprises.

Which probably says more about my critical eye and very specific tastes — a mite too critical and crazily specific, I’ve been told — than with the quality of the film or the general public’s own appetites.

Frozen’s other pleasant surprises:

• Its focus on the Anna & Elsa relationship over that of either sister with a romantic partner — quite welcome and perhaps my favorite aspect of the story.

• Olaf the snowman, voiced by Josh Gad, being legit funny and not being some completely left-field, anachronistic, contextually problematic goof; framing him as a magically persistent concept lingering from the girls’ childhood is a nice trick.

• Kristen Bell’s vocal chops — less that her voice is so good than that it’s that kind of good, soaring and full of vibrato in the Disney manner, able to keep up with Idina Menzel’s.

I found the songs themselves uneven and often shoehorned into the narrative, however, although the score composed by Christophe Beck worked better for me. Plus, while technically impressive, Menzel’s voice is not my bag.

The women’s faces bothered me, also, in large part due to my perennial peeve of the way today’s ubiquitously popular 3D-style rendering adapts designs still based in old-school, flat animation — I see those dramatically ski-sloped noses that don’t translate well at all to rounded computer modeling and I’m reminded of the Gelflings from The Dark Crystal. Otherwise, Frozen is visually stunning, the limited and largely muted color palette of the icebound landscape aesthetically leveraged to its fullest.

Kudos go to screenwriter Jennifer Lee and her co-director Chris Buck for all the positives, which ultimately outweigh what disappoints.

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