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'Frozen': Disney thaws the heart

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Frozen

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If ever a movie says destined to be a Broadway musical, it is “Frozen.” That is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Snow Queen, “Frozen” is the latest musical offering from the Walt Disney Animation Studios and is the story of two sisters—Elsa and Anna—who are princesses in the land of Arendelle. Elsa, the older princess who will one day be queen, has magical freezing powers. When the girls are young, Elsa accidentally releases her powers, injuring Anna. To protect Anna from further harm and to keep Elsa’s powers secret, their parents shut the girls away from the rest of the world and from one another. Eventually Elsa’s coronation occurs, and to celebrate Elsa flings open the gates to the palace. The two sisters excitedly reunite and happily greet the rest of their countrymen. Unfortunately, what begins as a beautiful day goes terribly wrong when an emotional Elsa frees her powers, putting her country in a never-ending winter. Horrified at what she has done, Elsa runs away to the mountains, effectively exiling herself from her country and sister. But Anna is not one to give up easily. She decides to search for her sister, hoping to convince her to come back to Arendelle. Along the way Anna meets up with Olaf—the snowman of her youth sprung to life—and mountain man, Kristoff, and his reindeer, Sven, all of whom accompany her on her journey.

“Frozen” is a feast for the eyes and ears. The music…the colors…the special effects…all are spectacular. I saw the non-3-D version and the animation for the country turning frozen is still nothing short of astounding, and the resulting imagery is mind-blowing. Because much of the color is muted due to the whiteness of the snow, when there is color, those colors literally jump off the screen. Anna’s sparkly blue dress, her purple coat and hat are simply breathtaking.

Intentional or not, the Disney team has a star in the making in Olaf. Writers Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck and Shane Morris have provided this character with the wittiest of dialogue and as Olaf, Josh Gad’s comedic acting chops positively shine as he says the lines to perfection.

Composed by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, “Frozen’s” songs are terrific and beautifully sung. Idina Menzel as Elsa is a Broadway veteran and she has an amazing voice. Her version of “Let it Go” is fabulous. But the shock of the film is Kristen Bell’s Anna. Who knew Bell could sing like that? She has a powerful, melodic voice. She sings her song with just the right amount of pluckiness and it is absolutely a fantastic performance on every level. When Menzel and Bell together sing, “For the First Time in Forever,” it’s as if the musical gods are shining down upon the two…and the audience.

As in most Disney films, not everything is light in the land of “Frozen.” But that darkness is limited and does propel the action forward. Thankfully we have Olaf and Anna to break through the ice and clouds, letting in the sunshine.

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