Review of the family-friendly Christmas blockbuster from Disney, Frozen
You'd have to have a heart of ice not to enjoy Frozen, the big Christmas blockbuster from Disney. Or be a six-year-old boy. Or a grumpy old house dad. For Frozen is very much a girls' film: an animated chick flick with feisty sisters, handsome beaux and loads of pointless West End musical-style singing.
In a word, according to my youngest lad: "Booooooooorrrrrrringg." Not a view shared by my 11-year-old stepdaughter, who was transfixed from beginning to end. Frozen is based on the classic fairytale, The Snow Queen. It tells the story of princess sisters Elsa and Anna living in a castle in the Scandinavian province of Arendelle.
They are very similar – you know, stunningly pretty, stick thin, MASSIVE Disney eyes and newborn baby-sized noses - but there is one chilling difference: Elsa has the powers to manipulate the cold, ice, and snow.
A Jacqueline Frost, if you like! With a flash of her fingers she can turn walls and floors to sheets of ice, create dagger-like icicles, and magic-up snowy theme parks, which is all great fun until she accidentally knocks out her sister with an icy blast.
Anna is on the brink of death until her dad takes her to the trolls in the forest (not the cyber bullying types we've grown accustomed to) who heal the little girl but in the process wipe out her memories – and the knowledge that Elsa is cryogenically gifted. So ashamed is Elsa of her chilly superpower that she locks herself away in her room for years, refusing to have any contact with little sis for fear of hurting her again.
But she's eventually forced to engage with the outside world when the girls' parents are killed in a storm at sea leaving Elsa to inherit her father's crown. From here, the story turns into a rom-com. Anna falls in love literally with the first handsome man she comes across and after she and Hans have serenaded each other across mountains and valleys, waterfalls and woods (six-year-old: "Stop singing. Please!"), they attend the new Queen's after-coronation party and ask for her blessing for their engagement.
"But you've only just met," says the Queen, not unreasonably. "I forbid it," or something along those lines. But stubborn, feisty Anna won't accept big sister's command – so big sister unleashes her icy wrath, turning the ballroom into a field of ice spikes. And then she plunges Arendelle into permanent winter, turning the town colder than an Iceland freezer cabinet.
With her secret out, the Snow Queen escapes to the mountains and builds herself a palace of ice – which is truly spectacular in 3D – and then inevitably sings a song. This one's called 'Let It Go', which I predict will be vying for the Christmas Number 1 slot against whatever Screwbo releases when she wins the X Factor. You read it here first.
Meanwhile, Anna hands over the keys to the palace to the bloke she met five minutes ago and asks him to take charge of the kingdom while she goes looking for her sister. And then...and then...guess what? She meets ANOTHER handsome stranger, a guy called Kristoff who carves chunks of ice for a living, but who's going broke because the permanent winter means nobody needs ice any more.
When he hears of Anna's quest to find and persuade her sister to bring the sunshine back, Kristoff, along with his reindeer Sven, agrees to help. We're halfway through the film by now. There's been lots of singing, lots of cooing and sighing, lots of flirting, and plenty of turning stuff whiter than a 60 degree biological wash. But no laughs. Not a titter. My sons are getting restless in their seats but my stepdaughter's eyes are wider than the Royal sisters'.
And then along comes Olaf – a goofy, cute, very funny carrot-nosed snowman whose three-part body separates and comes back together. He provides much-needed light relief and, at last, my youngest has stopped fidgeting and stuffing popcorn into his mouth. Unfortunately, Olaf's presence has nothing whatsoever to do with driving the plot and it's clear he exists purely for pester power merchandising purposes.
Even so, his daffy presence is welcome respite from the earnestness being played out by the cartoon humans.
I won't spoil the rest of the story. Suffice to say, there is a moral. Everything has to have a moral these days. Frozen's message is about the power of love: the unbreakable bond between sisters, no matter what their differences. It's a fantastic feast for the eyeballs and has some very hummable tunes, if that's what you're into.
And I've no doubt it will be ranked alongside Beauty and The Beast as a Disney classic. It's just very, very girly, which is great if you're a nine-to-12-year-old girl. Not so great if you're a little boy expecting a swashbuckling superhero to kill all the baddies with javelins of ice.
That's the problem with Frozen, really: there aren't any baddies to fight. And as much as this love-conquers-all fairytale warmed the cockles of my 11-year-old's stepdaughter's heart, it left me and my lads a bit cold.
Frozen is in cinemas from December.