"Do you want to build a snowman?"
Released November 27, 2013, Frozen is Disney Animation Studio's 53rd animated feature (and third one done in Pixar-esque 3D animation). It is loosely, very loosely, based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. In that there is a queen, and there is snow.
The movie starts when our main characters, the sisters Anna and Elsa, are little kids playing together in the middle of the night while their parents, the king and queen of Arendelle are asleep. The problem is that the elder sister Elsa has ice powers. She can conjure and control ice and snow at will, and while at first she and Anna are enjoying themselves making snowmen and sliding around on the ice-covered floor, things get a little out of hand and Elsa accidentally injures Anna. Kingdad and Queenmom wake up, scold Elsa for using her powers, and take Anna into the forest to meet the trolls there, who are apparently great magic healers. They fix Anna, but the cost is that she forget the memories of her sister's power. She retains the memories of the two playing in the snow together, but forgets that the snow was Elsa's doing. The lead troll warns Elsa against using her powers in the most unhelpful and vague way possible, saying that "fear will destroy you," leading her family to believe that means should anyone find out about her powers, she'll be killed by an angry mob. All that sets up for Elsa years of paranoia and self-loathing.
Years pass. Tragedy strikes the family, leaving Elsa and Anna alone. The two grow apart (though not for Anna's lack of trying to establish a connection). Elsa has lost all control of her powers and hides herself away, afraid of both hurting the people around her and of being hurt by them. That all lasts until Elsa is 21, Anna is 18, and it is the day of the coronation, the first time in years that the castle gates will be open to the public. Things come to a boil when Anna finds and immediately falls in love with Prince Hans from the southern isle, Arendelle's trade partner Duke Weselton plots to undermine and overtake Arendelle's trade, and Elsa loses control in a very public way. . .
The majority of the movie is Anna, with the help of an icecutter named Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and the living snowman Olaf, searching for her sister to bring her home.
I swear to God, this movie took over the world for a few months there. It came out during the snowpocalypse last year when half the country was covered in snow, and no matter where you turned, someone was making a "Let It Go" cover, parody, or remix.
Despite the backlash this movie garnered (ironically enough, mostly due to its explosive popularity), this is a good movie. There's a reason it was so damn popular: it was a breath of fresh air. It was a princess movie-- the first one since 2010's Tangled-- but it didn't follow the usual girl-does-thing, girl-meets-boy, girl-boy-relationship-is-most-important-thing. Anna gets a love interest, yeah, but the love interest is not the most important thing. The relationship between Anna and Elsa is what is important (a relationship that is actually physically manifested as Olaf the snowmen. on the flipside, the giant spiky guard snowman Elsa makes represents her desire to be alone. Nice).
The voice acting is amazing. Idina Menzel from Wicked and RENT plays Elsa, thus cementing the fact that in every production she is in, Idina Menzel gets a kickass "later suckers" song ("Defying Gravity," "Take Me or Leave Me," "Let it Go").
Also, this movie had two big twists that, while not particularly risky, don't happen in kids movies, much less Disney princess movies. I won't say what they are, even though by this point everyone and their grandmother has seen the film, because they were just that good. In retrospect, these twists were not anything all that impressive; the same sort of things happen in books and television media all the time, I'm sure. But this was an audience that wasn't expecting anything new at this point.
The movie is good. The humor is just about perfect. The advertising for this film left out everything about Anna and Elsa and the ice powers, instead focusing on Olaf and Sven interacting and being god awfully annoying. However, in the movie they don't actually interact that much, and Olaf, instead of being a horrendously annoying sidekick, is actually done very well. They go with the quieter, underplayed humor with him instead of making him obnoxious and loud, and he's genuinely funny. Sven doesn't talk. I am so happy Sven the reindeer doesn't talk. If anything, the movie sort of picks on the talking animal stereotype; often times when Kristoff is debating with himself, he will be Sven's "voice" and play devil's advocate to himself while Sven watches on.
While this isn't the best Disney movie by any means, it was the best one we'd had in a while, and I think that alone is enough for it to leave a mark.
Also, funny thing, the original story is by Hans Christian Andersen. The character's names are Hans-Kristoff-Anna-Sven. Heh.