Friday, February 14, 2014

Frozen (Rhoades)

Disney’s “Frozen” Thaws a Fairy Tale

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Just when you thought Disney had exhausted the genre, the House of Mouse has come up with yet another animated “princess” movie -- this one featuring one with cryokinetic powers.

That means she can create snow and ice.

Although it’s titled “Frozen,” this new offering is actually a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”

This marks Disney’s new habit of giving old fairytales new, grabby titles. Thus, “Rapunzel” became “Tangled.”

“Frozen” is currently adding to the air conditioning at the Tropic Cinema.

In this loosely adapted story we actually have two princesses, Elsa and Anna. Elsa is set to be queen, but exiles herself when her snow-making powers throw the kingdom into a perpetual winter. The evil Duke of Weselton tries to take over by branding Elsa as a monster (not entirely off base). However, young Anna treks through the snow in search of her missing sister, relying on the help of a mountain man and a reindeer.

Oh yes, Anna and her companions encounter a snowman along the way, a frozen custard of a character who keeps coming apart and rolling and tumbling and having trouble with his carrot-nose. The comic relief.

Idina Menzel voices Elsa, while Kristen Bell speaks for Anna. Jonathan Groff brings the mountain man Kristoff to life, Alan Tudyk provides a voice for the Duke, and Josh Gad gives us the funny snowman.

As far back as 1943, Disney wanted to do a film based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” but “couldn't find a way to adapt and relate the Snow Queen character to modern audiences.” Was she good … or bad … or just misunderstood?

“That’s the whole point,” says Idina Menzel of her role. “How we tend to judge people we don’t know well enough, and what our preconceived notion of their character is and how people are misunderstood, that those of us who are unknown or mysterious to us can be scary until we get to know them and see where everything’s coming from.”

Idina Menzel is best known for her stage role as a witch in “Wicked.” Kristen Bell made her mark as TV’s plucky “Veronica Mars.” Josh Gab has experience with cold weather, having voiced a part in “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Producer Peter Del Vecho says adapting “The Snow Queen” wasn’t easy. “Hans Christian Andersen’s original version … is a pretty dark tale and it doesn’t translate easily into a film. There are times when Elsa does villainous things but because you understand where it comes from, from this desire to defend herself, you can always relate to her.”

Yes, they had to alter the familiar fairy tale to get that point across. “’Inspired by’ means exactly that,” says Del Vecho. “There is snow and there is ice and there is a Queen, but other than that, we depart from it quite a bit.”

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