Review Retrospective: Frozen is a wintry delight

A look back at this Disney classic on an appropriately snowy Christmas week.

Rather than review the same staid blockbusters that have elbowed their way into the Christmas season, The Collin-Denton Spotlighter looks back on a beloved family-favorite film that’s perfect for this time of year. In fact, it’s a movie that’s quite appropriate for just this exact mix of flurries and snow blowing through the North Texas area this week: Frozen.

There’s something to be said about the Christmas classics. Holiday specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town are known as such for a reason. They’re each ageless icons in their own right, both comforting and genuinely enchanting to watch no matter how many times you’ve seen them. The perfect movies to bundle under a blanket and enjoy on cold, blustery winter nights.

It’s a shame that there’s not more movies like that. Besides perhaps The Polar Express, in spite of its always uncomfortably realistic animation style, there really hasn’t been a truly immutable addition to that catalog of holiday classics in quite some time. That is, until Frozen came along.

While it doesn’t quite have any outright ties to Christmas, there’s no Santa Claus in sight for starters, it still has that undeniable holiday movie magic coursing through it. From instantly memorable song numbers like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Let It Go” to animation that still dazzles the eyes even more than a decade after its release, Frozen has all the building blocks of a typical holiday standard.

Those building blocks would all be for naught if it wasn’t for one crucial element though, a genuinely heartwarming plot. Luckily, that’s arguably Frozen’s strongest asset, even beyond the beautiful songs and animation.

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” inspires Frozen’s plot, but Disney strives for so much more than just the basic “Once Upon a Time…”. Much like Tangled, the house of mouse aims for deeper messages of female empowerment in their retelling and succeeds through a surprisingly subversive story that uses the warm comforts of its classic underpinnings to lull the viewer into believing they know exactly what’s going to come next.

At this point, most people probably know the basics of the plot. Sisters Anna and Elsa are heirs to the kingdom of Arendelle with the elder sister, Elsa, set to assume the throne following the tragic loss of their parents at sea.

Elsa and her parents hid a shocking secret from Anna and the rest of their subjects, however. Elsa struggles to control ice-based magical powers as a result of a so-called curse. Come time for Elsa to make her big presentation to the world as queen, a shocking reveal that Anna’s engaged to a man she just met, the charming Prince Hans, causes Elsa to freeze up both literally and figuratively.

She runs into the wilderness after accidentally plunging Arendelle into an everlasting winter with Anna following behind. Anna, who’s far less equipped for the conditions to say the least, has to accept the help of rugged ice salesman Kristoff and the magic snowman Olaf to convince Elsa to return to save the kingdom.

It’s an almost paint-by-numbers set-up, but that’s what makes Frozen work so well. Fellow holiday classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas aren’t exactly treading new ground with their themes either, even when they originally debuted. It’s that familiarity which gives Frozen and other standards like it the ability to give the viewer that warm and fuzzy feeling inside when watching the characters solve their problems. Moreover, it also allows Frozen to draw beyond those bounds, subtly twisting its familiar formula to help drive home its core message and keep the story exciting and engaging.

That’s not to say Frozen’s plot is perfect either, but that’s not really the point. Movies that evoke these feelings rarely are in the traditional storytelling and film evaluation sense, a fact that’s lost in this day and age where the almighty tomato, a rotten one at that, rules over reviews.

Frozen does everything that it seems to set out to do and then some. It’s simply Disney magic at its finest and the perfect balm for the blistery weather out there this Christmas season.

Spotlight Score: 10/10


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