FrozenU ¦ Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD
With so much competition in the colourful world of animation, Disney is no longer the single dominant force it once was. And although the name still guarantees tiny bums on seats, it hasn't had a purple patch quite like it had in the late eighties and early nineties that came with such titles such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in quite some time.
However, it's fair to say that Disney struck gold with Frozen: not only is it the highest grossing animation of all time, it's also the ninth highest grossing film of all time. Sadly these stats are about the only thing that are impressive about the film.
For no explicable reason, young Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) of Arundelle has extraordinary powers: she has the ability to create snow and ice from her fingertips. Fun and games can certainly be had with such powers, but one day she struggles to control them and her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) suffers as a consequence, so much so that she nearly loses her life. From that point on, her parents decide to keep Elsa well away from Anna, as well as everyone else.
Their luck doesn't improve much over the years, with the pair of them suffering a family tragedy. Still, a time to celebrate soon arrives when Elsa comes of age, and the kingdom prepares for her coronation. But this joyous occasion doesn't last long: the sisters fall out when Anna announces she's in love and wants to marry. Elsa loses her temper at the news and, in turn, loses control of her powers once more, for the entire kingdom to see.
Feeling embarrassed she flees, seeking solace in a castle of her own making in the middle of nowhere. Thinking that spending time on her own is the right thing to do, she's unaware that despite the fact she's left her kingdom behind, it still feels the wrath of her chilly powers.
In an attempt to return things to normal, Anna sets out to find her sister and resolve the problems between them. However, it's a perilous journey fraught with danger against a hazardous white and snowy backdrop.
Based as it is upon the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale The Snow Queen, it appears to have been a canny move for Disney to make a return to classic storytelling. If only they hadn't messed it up by making it a musical.
To their credit, Disney have a solid track record of having music in their animated features, stretching back to their first ever feature: 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs included the catchy tunes like Heigh-Ho and Whistle While you Work. And although the songs featured in Frozen are undoubtedly polished, they are disappointingly bland affairs.
Its songs are clearly influenced by TV shows where the cast often burst into song for no good reason: yes, this is Disney doing Glee. Compared to, say, the joyous soundtrack of their 1967 classic The Jungle Book (which included The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na be Like You, this film contains soulless, anaemic numbers written to fill arenas for the guaranteed Frozen on Ice tours to come. They will certainly appeal to precocious seven year old girls attending drama classes and their overbearing mothers, but no one else. To say then that they lack warmth is an understatement.
Thankfully it makes up for all that horrible noise in the animation department – just. It looks simply beautiful; if there was a boat to be pushed, the Disney animators definitely pushed it all the way.
It's also a little racy for a Disney film. The lead female demands "Take me up the north mountain!" more than once, which is a euphemism you wouldn't necessarily expect from a Disney title, but there you have it.
Sadly, as well as being racy, isn't also quite a bit racist. You can have a character in any colour you like, as long as they're white. Perhaps when the animators were briefed to produce the kind of film that would fit the ideals of dear old Walt – who has often been said to have been a racist and bigot over the years – they took it a little too literally. Every human character is the whitest of white. In fact there is only one brown face to be seen in the entire film, and that belongs to a horse – a non speaking role at that. The only other race who get to sing are a bunch of down-trodden, grey as mud trolls. It would certainly have Walt doing a little jig inside his cryogenically frozen state and make him supremely proud.
It clearly has struck or chord or two with someone, as the box offices numbers can testify, but it simply doesn't compare to classic Disney; it's generic in almost every way (bar the animation), with not one original animated bone in its limp body. Even the cast is one of the most unrecognisable in years, many of whom could be standing right in front of you talking and you still wouldn't have the foggiest idea who they were.
The problem is, however, there's every chance that now Disney know that they can make silly money without much effort we can probably expect more of this formulaic tosh, which considering their pedigree, is a crying shame.
If you're not one for bland characters and ghastly songs, there's every chance that Frozen will leave you feeling a South Pole kind of cold.