Deluxe Edition Soundtrack Review
Featuring The Vocal Talents of Kristen Bell,
Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Demi Lovato & Various
Walt Disney Records
Disc 1: 32 Tracks/Disc Time: 69:43
Disc 2: 23 Tracks/Disc Time: 47:50
Grade: B+ (BEST OF 2013)
The hit Disney film "Frozen" is the latest hit film from their vaults who along side the Disney/Pixar hits "Monsters University" and "Planes" has made the studio the clear winner in the animation domination sweepstakes for this year with this mature version of "The Snow Queen" which has been in development since the 2000's and almost coming to fruition as last as 2010. The story revolves around Anna (Kristen Bell, "Veronica Mars") is a fearless optimist who sets off on an epic journey. On her trek she ends up teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven to find her sister Elsa (Broadway star Idina Menzel, "Rent"), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. From the outside Elsa looks poised, regal and reserved, but in reality, she lives in fear as she wrestles with a mighty secret that she was born with the power which is the ability to create ice and snow that is special and extremely dangerous to others. Haunted by the moment her magic nearly killed her younger sister Anna, she has isolated herself,spending every waking minute trying to suppress her growing powers with her restless emotions triggering the magic, accidentally setting off an eternal winter that she can't stop. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad, "Thanks For Sharing", Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
The film which wasn't advertised as a musical is very much one and one that critics have really enjoyed thanks to its' beautiful animation and production design. Another important element to this story is obviously the music that plays a major part of the storyline. Along with providing the voices of the main characters, actresses Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel also provide enjoyable vocals that are very much in line with the traditional ones of Disney animated films' past. That in itself is a major accomplishment because of Disney's hit and miss record with their animated films not counting the Pixar ones that have included the likes of "Valiant", "The Wild", "Meet The Robinsons" and "Brother Bear" over the last decade. The other half of this equation is finding a composer other than Alan Menken, the Oscar winning Disney stalwart who write a score to perfectly match the material that's on screen with great success. Composer Christophe Beck is the latest composer to join the animated Disney family that includes the likes of Oscar Winners Randy Newman & Michael Giacchino, Oscar Nominee Thomas Newman, Patrick Doyle, Alan Silvestri, Mark Mancina, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, James Newton Howard and Danny Elfman to name a few who's music has graced the animated realm of Disney.
The songs performed by the cast are definitely in the Disney tradition. Full of sweep and with fun lyrics like in the duet between Bell and Menzel for "For the First Time In Forever" that is very nice. The other songs such as "Love Is An Open Door" is alot more enjoyable and Menzel's solo for "Let It Go" is definitely the major highlight out of all of them and it's mainly because it is easily the strongest due to Manzel's performance which is alot higher than that of Bell's. Pop singer Demi Lovato also performs a rocking rendition of this song which is pretty much what you expect from a Top 40 artist and it's not a bad song, but it doesn't have the energy that Menzel's does.
Christophe Beck's score really has to be the best he's composed so far to date and with good reason, he really uses the orchestra to his advantage. It's the biggest score he's written in a grand epic scale pretty much since "Percy Jackson And The Olympians" which was a very strong effort. "Vuelie" opens Beck's portion of the score for this first disc performed by Cantus that features a lovely angelic chorus that almost right out of "Chant" for those who remember and gets an excellent reprise in "The Great Thaw (Vuelie Reprise)" one of the score's major highlights and a great finale to boot. The score consists of some nice thematic material full of sweep, adventure and a touch of romance. "Elsa And Anna" has a fun and thematic waltz for the two sisters on the opposite ends of the spectrum featuring the good and dark sides of them. "Winter's Waltz" is a lovely and charming track full of playfulness, much like the mock bombast of "Marshmallow Attack!", and "The Trolls" also have a mysterious, but subtle delicate sound to it in keeping with its' fairytale like setting. The strongest parts of this score is clearly the adventure aspect in which Beck rightfully focuses on and features his strongest writing in the tracks "The North Mountain", "Wolves", "Summit Siege", and "Return To Arendelle" which have a grand bombastic and exciting feel to them. "Whiteout" is another highlight that really builds on suspenseful opening and ends on a very strong dramatic note as the material shifts between light and dark before giving into the dark. "Epilogue" which ends the album is a basic reprise of the score's main themes primiarily the theme for "Elsa And Anna" which opened the score and this album with its' playful regal themes and grand happy ending that is right at home with other Disney scores.
The second disc of this edition of the soundtrack is filled with alot of demo tracks of what the final product would sound like with featuring songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez that is feels more like an improv session before the actors went into the recording stage to perform the songs themselves, as well as the work of Christophe Beck, which is very interesting on both parts as Beck's work is done electronically that sounds like a real actual orchestra before the score was performed by the famous Hollywood Studio Symphony and Chorus. This is an interesting disc mainly for real fans of the movie and it's a very nice thing to have in this instance.
This set is a well produced one in terms of packaging and really worth it for the extras for the most part especially due to the retail price. My main issue is that the songs are slightly on the bland side for a Disney project which is usually their strongest suit and in this case I have to that all the other aspects of the film are much stronger than the songs themselves. Beck's score is very strong, enjoyable and it is very memorable in everyway and I do expect him to get some serious Oscar considering along with Idina Menzel as well as the film itself in the end. As much as I like this set, I think the regular edition of the soundtrack is fine for those who are mainly interested in the songs and the score as this set is for the real completists and fans of the movie. Thumbs way up for the score. The songs also get a Marginal Thumbs Up.