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Six years later, and Frozen has left an undeniable cultural impact. From Let It Go to tons of merchandising, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee delivered such a memorable film that people not only didn’t forget but regularly asked for its sequel. As of right now, Frozen II has claimed the third-best animated opening weekend ever, proving that the love for this franchise (I think it’s safe to call it that already) is strong. However, how great is the original movie, after all? To be honest, I never fully watched it until this past week in preparation for its sequel. It surprised me in the sense that I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Frozen is deserving of the love it possesses.
With extremely captivating characters, the story flows naturally, and the entertainment levels are always high. Whether these are due to the amazing singing sequences or to the exciting adventures, this film never stops having fun. That’s what Frozen ultimately is: a lighthearted, fun, and entertaining movie. It follows Disney’s formula for creating a variation of a story we have seen before. Characters go through a traumatic event when they’re young. They have to grow up while struggling with the aftermath of said trauma. Eventually, they overcome that obstacle and live happily ever after (or at least until the next installment).
It’s the generic and somewhat cliche Disney model for a new animated film (franchise). Nevertheless, don’t get me wrong: it works perfectly. Sure, it doesn’t bring anything new story-wise, but it’s still a great time. Despite some unnecessary and lazy exposition (the magical trolls are basically exposition devices), Frozen still delivers a truly captivating and visually jaw-dropping narrative. I do need to emphasize this: the animation is phenomenal. Elsa’s magic is seamless and beautiful. Arendelle is a gorgeous location, and the snowy mountains are impressively designed. Let It Go will always be remembered for its lyrics and melody, but the actual animated sequence is astonishing.
Every character carries a lot of expressiveness, which allows them to do basically everything. Frozen might not be a groundbreaking movie, but its compelling characters make the generic plot work. From Elsa and Anna’s complicated but heartwarming relationship to Kristoff and Sven’s camaraderie, I care about all of them… especially Olaf. I know, Olaf is simply the snowman version of a comic-relief character. He doesn’t really have a complex arc in need of extreme development. However, it’s impossible not to love him. He’s such a welcome presence in every single scene. Every single line of his is either a funny remark or a pretty valuable insight into something.
Counting him out, every other character has a very well explored arc, mainly Elsa and Anna. Their (older) relationship originates from a plot point that might be a tad exaggerated, but it’s convincing enough. Finally, the score is as important as it is fantastic. It’s an animated musical, let us not forget about that. Obviously, Let It Go is the queen of all songs due to its catchy lyrics, memorable chorus, and significance to the character. But other ones such as Do You Wanna Build a Snowman and For the First Time in Forever also carry a sweet melody plus some exquisite character and story development. That’s what I love the most about musicals and why Disney always triumphs regarding this aspect: the way a simple song can tell so much about someone or move the plot forward. In my opinion, it’s the genre’s variation of “show, don’t tell.”
In the end, Frozen might not be a groundbreaking animated film story-wise, but it delivers around 100 minutes of pure fun and entertainment. With an exceptional voice cast (Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, and Josh Gad are wonderful), Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee are able to take Disney’s formula and create a worthy variation of the classic blueprint. From the emotionally compelling and well-developed characters to the eyegasmic animation quality, Frozen is a good time from start to finish. Boasting some memorable and catchy songs, it became one of the decade’s culturally most impactful animated movies. I wish exposition wasn’t overused, and that more risks were taken concerning the screenplay, but as a Disney animated flick, it meets the company’s standards.