As everyone prepares to gather at the Thanksgiving table, a familiar refrain will be spoken: “That’s no blizzard. That’s my sister.”
Those words and catchy tunes from the new 3-D animated tale of two sisters, Frozen, will undoubtedly be repeated throughout the holiday season.
Disney has another hit in its repertoire with this heartfelt story of sisterly love and one of the few films released in 3-D this year that splendidly incorporates the technology into the plot line.
The animated musical, which was adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, immediately pulls at the heartstrings with the introduction of toddler Anna (Kristen Bell), who adorably tries to wake up her older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) for playtime.
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Little Anna knows of Elsa’s incredible gift to turn everything she touches into ice and urges her sis to create a winter wonderland in the grand hall of the family’s castle. Accidentally, Elsa hits Anna with an icy blast that changes their relationship. Elsa is told to keep her powers a secret, which causes a rift between the sisters after they lose their parents in a shipwreck. Anna doesn’t understand why her sister does not want to be around her. So, Elsa and Anna are stuck in an enormous, isolated castle, living together but emotionally distant.
The two are reunited during Elsa’s coronation, but when her gloves are removed during a spat with her sister, her powers wreak havoc on the small Nordic kingdom of Arendelle, which she unknowingly dooms with an eternal winter. Ashamed and afraid, Elsa flees her home and takes refuge on North Mountain, where she embraces her iciness and belts out Let It Go.
Let It Go, sung by Demi Lovato on the soundtrack, is one of eight original songs by Robert Lopez ( Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez ( Winnie the Pooh), but the standout number is the beautiful ballad For the First Time in Forever. Bell harmonizes perfectly with Broadway veteran Menzel on the duet.
The rest of the story follows Anna’s quest to retrieve her sister. Along the way, she’s joined by rugged mountain guy Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his trusty reindeer friend Sven and enchanted snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), which can already be seen in Disney’s “World of Color” show at California Adventure. Anna is determined to prove to the people of Arendelle that her sister is not a witch, not a monster. “She’s my sister,” she tells Kristoff. “She would never hurt me.”
The supporting characters are impressive, including Santino Fontana as the duplicitous Hans and Alan Tudyk as the smarmy diplomat.
Some have said that Anna is drawn too much like another Disney princess, Rapunzel in Tangled. But I think directors Chris Buck ( Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (co-screenwriter of Wreck-It-Ralph) have done a great job of differentiating this film with spectacular visuals, imaginative special effects and, above all, a relatable story.
Anna may look like Rapunzel but her endearing character is original and as Olaf says: “Some people are worth melting for.”