Ok, so, right off the bat let me say two things:
1. This post will include spoilers. So if you don’t want the movie “ruined”, if that’s really how you feel about such things, then don’t proceed and instead skip to the tl;dr of…
2. This was the best, non-Pixar Disney movie I’ve seen in a long time and I say that after thoroughly enjoying Wreck-It Ralph.
Ok, spoilers continue on from this point…
Frozen is the very loose adaptation (if you squint, look at it from an angle whilst hanging by your ankles upside down) of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (but, really, not really). It is the story of Elsa and Anna, the daughters of the king and queen. Elsa was born with the ability to create and shape ice at will, an ability that she uses for fun with her younger sister throughout their childhood until an accident causes Elsa to blast Anna in the head with some frost. This puts frost in her brain and so the royal parents take both daughters to a group of nearby trolls who remove the ice and the memories of Elsa’s magic from Anna’s head. This event sets two things in motion: the creation of a rift between the sisters that grows until they hardly know each other by the time Elsa reaches maturity and Elsa’s paranoia about her powers getting out of control. Her parents then lock her and Anna up inside the royal palace, only allowing them to see servants, for fear of the knowledge about Elsa’s gift/curse getting out (and Anna remembering what happened to her). The problem with this is that the paranoia causes a horrible fear loop in Elsa regarding her abilities: basically, she fears losing control of her powers again and hurting others and when she is emotional (i.e. fear) she loses control of her powers, so as her fears grow, her powers become more unstable which causes her fear to grow, and, well, you get the picture. Anna also has the problem in that she has memories of her being very close with her sister, that she loves her sister very much, but is confused and hurt by her sister’s seemingly sudden and reason-less withdrawal.
Since it’s a Disney film it wouldn’t be complete without a tragic parental incident and both royal parents are lost at sea. The servants dutifully see to the royal children until Elsa comes of age and, in a tense coronation, is crowned queen which leads to the palace being opened for one night in celebration for the first time in years.
Anna, who has been a shut in her entire life, meets a handsome, charming stranger who just happens to be a visiting prince (thirteenth among twelve other, older brothers), and they hit it off smashingly. The night is going great, Elsa’s actually having fun, Anna’s having the night of her life, then Prince Hans asks Anna to marry him and she says yes. She runs off to tell Elsa this and, well, Elsa flips out and curses the entire kingdom to be in perpetual winter (totally without meaning to but you know how it is being the older, royal sibling of an impetuous younger sister; these things happen). People realize Elsa’s powers, flip out themselves, and Elsa flees leaving her sister and handsome Hans behind. Anna leaves Hans in charge (because that’s the smart thing) and goes after her sister. While on this journey she meets Kristoff, a rough, young, orphan of a man, as well as his reindeer companion Sven, who works as an ice cutter and is understandably upset about how his summertime sales have suddenly slumped into decline. Anna hires him to help get her to the mountain where Elsa’s hiding out.
Meanwhile, Elsa realizes that while she is in solitude she doesn’t have to fear hurting anyone anymore and so she cuts loose with her powers, creating an ice palace, makes a slinky ice dress for herself, and starts channeling young Michelle Pfeiffer or Nicole Kidman as she literally and figuratively lets down her hair (and leads to Youtube videos a little like this, NSFW).
Anna, Kristoff, and Svenn encounter and are joined by Olaf, a sentient snowman created by Elsa on a whim (who resembles the snowmen she and her sister used to make when they were young) who is quite possibly the MOST POSITIVE AND HAPPY DISNEY SIDEKICK SINCE JIMINY CRICKET. Seriously, you can’t NOT like Olaf. The four track down Elsa, Elsa accidentally shoots Anna in the chest with her powers (putting ice in her heart this time) and she and Kristoff are chased off the mountain by a giant, angry snowman who, in the credits, is named Marshmallow. Seriously, giant, ice spike-bedecked snowman. Named Marshmallow. Anyway…
Back to the trolls Kristoff takes Anna, because Kristoff was adopted by them you see, and we learn from Grandpa Troll that only an Act of True Love(tm) will unfreeze the ice that is growing in Anna’s heart. Without an Act of True Love(tm) Anna will turn completely to ice and die. The trolls try to set up Kristoff and Anna to be True Love ™ in a way NO ONE totally didn’t see coming but, thinking she’s already in love, Kristoff and Anna race back to town to Hans.
While this is happening Hans assembles a party to go looking for Anna and Elsa, they find Elsa, two henchmen of the Duke of Weaseltown (pronounced, he insisted, as Wesseltown) try to kill her, she whups a lot of ass, and almost kills them before Elsa herself is knocked unconscious in the ensuing melee and returned to town.
Kristoff and Anna arrive at town and essentially throw her into the arms of Hans who refuses to kiss her because (duh duh DUHHHHHHH) he actually was going to try and marry Elsa, failed at that, and decided to marry Anna instead before arranging an accident for her, her sister, and taking the throne for himself. As Elsa is apparently a winter-creating monster, he can let Anna die on her own and tell everyone that they said their marriage vows to each other before she passed on, thus making him important or something. He can then use his newly made-up legal authority to find Elsa guilty of treason, conveniently without trial, and have her put to death, freeing the land from unseasonal winter (hopefully), earning the trust and love of the populace, and becoming king. Awesome.
Except that Elsa escapes. Because she’s freaking out the weather gets worse, Anna is dying, and Kristoff has discovered that he loves Anna after all (totally didn’t see that coming), so he hauls back to town to try and save her with a kiss. Olaf manages to knock some sense into Anna and she realizes she loves Kristoff too and so the True Love(tm) couple go wandering through the snow storm, slowly drawing closer to each other as things get colder/crappier and Anna continues to die. They’ve almost reached each other when Anna sees Hans about to murder her sister with a sword and she races to protect Elsa, lifting her hand to stop the sword blow, and promptly turns into an ice sculpture. Luckily, it’s a magical ice sculpture that’s super hard because her outstretched hand blocks Hans’ swing and completely shatters his sword, thus saving Elsa.
Elsa, you guessed it, freaks out that she’s killed her sister, Kristoff freaks out because the only woman that he found that could put up with his reindeer-funk is now a table setting for a yuppie’s dinner, Hans is freaking out because everyone totally just saw him try to murder the queen and fail, and everyone else is freaking out because OMGSNOW.
BUT this is a film by Disney, a company that can’t even allow a Danny Elfman film to end on a down note, and it turns out that Disney’s usual schtick of True Love ™ equaling romantic love has had an addendum added to it and SISTERS SAVING SISTERS IS NOW TOTALLY AN ACT OF TRUE LOVE ™. Anna turns back to flesh and blood, Elsa learns to turn off her powers thus returning summer to the land, her people fall in love with their snow queen (Because, hey, free Slushies whenever? Awesome!), Hans get put in the clink, Duke of Weaseltown is basically banished, and all is right with the world. Anna and Kristoff are free to do whatever and even Olaf the Snowman is made a permanent fixture even in the height of summer as Elsa creates a “permanent, personal snow flurry” to keep him from melting. The end.
Now that that is over, let me just reiterate that I loved this movie. Why? Because while it followed many of the standard Disney-princess movie tropes, it also messed with them in totally progressive and positive way. True Love(tm) not equaling romantic love? The only Disney film any of my friends could think of where that happened was Lilo and Stitch. It was awesome that they played with that trope that way, even setting it up that Kristoff was Anna’s True Love well-before the scene where Hans is revealed to be the bad guy, and yet they didn’t go that route. It was a refreshing change from the standard formula.
Also, Elsa? Total bad ass. In the scene where Hans and Company come to talk to her and the two minions try to kill her, she totally has the situation under control and is about to put the permanent hurt on them when Hans distracts her. It’s Hans trying to pull the Disney Prince thing that causes Elsa to be captured. She didn’t need him to save her, she was totally capable of saving herself.
The one thing I can say I didn’t really like was that they made Hans the bad guy. I get that they had to have a bad guy and they had to have a bad guy who was comparable to Kristoff, but I was digging the fact that for most of the movie he seemed like an upstanding guy, so much so that when the reveal happened it kind of felt like a let down. Honestly, I would’ve rather had him be a great guy, Kristoff and Elsa get together, and Duke Weaseltown be the bad guy but, eh, I wasn’t the writer or a Disney exec so what do I know.
Anyway, great film, probably would look good in 3D but I refuse to see most movies in that format anymore. I don’t think you’d be disappointed in the film if you paid full price for it (we didn’t because we took Connor to see it and we figured there would be fewer people in the theater to annoy at that time if he decided to misbehave).