Frozen - movie review

From Dec 4, 2013

A week ago I saw Disney’s new film ‘Frozen’. It’s a great movie that many critics are saying is a return to Disney’s Renaissance Era (1989-1999) in that it’s in the style of a Broadway musical. One critic from The Wrap said the film was “the best animated musical to come out of Disney since the tragic death of lyricist Howard Ashman” and I would have to agree. 
There’s some great music here, from ‘For the First Time in Forever’ to ‘Let it Go’ to the funny ‘Reindeer Are Better Than People’ and ‘In Summer’ songs. 
Disney’s new hit songwriting team are the husband and wife team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They both worked on 2011’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ (the so-so quasi-remake of the fantastic 1977 original ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’). While I didn’t care for the music in ‘Winnie the Pooh’, the music in ‘Frozen’ is MUCH better, although there are still some questionable lyrics like “Don't know if I'm elated or gassy” in the song ‘For the First Time in Forever’ but I’ll let one line slide because the rest of it is so good, like the girl-power ballad 'Let it Go'. 
I also liked that second song in the film, ‘Frozen Heart’, reminded me of the working song in ‘Dumbo’.
One of the best things is the orchestral score by Christophe Beck. The main title ‘Vuelie’ is absolutely amazing and is so moving it almost makes me cry hearing it. It reminds me most of Lebo M’s clarion call at the beginning of ‘Circle of Life’, the opening theme from ‘The Lion King’. You can hear 'Vuelie' here, just click on track 11: but you should really hear it in the theater.
In the Silmarillion (yes, I'm bringing up Tolkein), spirits called the Ainur helped create the universe through a holy chanting called the Ainulindalë, the "Music of the Ainur". I imagine the Ainulindalë sounding very much like 'Vuelie'. Yes, I feel that strongly about 'Vuelie'. 
From wikipedia: “For the orchestral film score, composer Christophe Beck gave homage to the Norway- and Sápmi-inspired setting, employing regional instruments such as the bukkehorn and traditional vocal techniques, such as kulning. The music producers recruited a Norwegian linguist to assist with the lyrics for an Old Norse song written for Elsa's coronation, and also traveled to Norway to record the all-female choir Cantus, for a piece inspired by traditional Norwegian music.” and: “It was also revealed on September 14, 2013 that Sámi musician Frode Fjellheim's Eatnemen Vuelie will be the film's opening song.”
I really liked how the movie played on the idea of what an act of true love is.
The relationship between sisters Anna and Elsa is strong. And I really liked Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, who have a Han/Chewbacca relationship. Good stuff. There's also a character named Hans, which I'm guessing is a nod to Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote 'The Snow Queen' that 'Frozen' is supposed to be based on. 

And I am SO happy that the snowman character Olaf was lovable and not annoying as hell like he was in the incredibly bad trailer that was released for ‘Frozen’ months ago. Watch it’s terribleness here, if you so choose: It has nothing to do with the movie anyway. I wonder if the Disney people toned Olaf down after the internet backlash from this trailer because he’s not annoying in the actual film.

Another interesting factoid for me is that the director, Chris Buck, is from Wichita, Kansas, where I lived for 3 years in the 1980s.

Everything you read about 'Frozen' says that it is “loosely” based on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen’, but after you see ‘Frozen’ you should read this: and then tell me how loosely it is based. Basically, ‘Frozen’ has almost nothing to do with Andersen’s original story, but that’s not a bad thing at all.