Cold World, Warm Heart

‘Frozen' adapts Hans Christian Andersen's story 
into a lovable holiday movie

Queen-to-be Elsa, learning to harness her power to control the cold, is isolated from younger sister Anna in "Frozen."
Walt Disney Pictures
Olaf, a naïve snowman brought to life, brings the laughs audiences expect from cute creatures in a Disney animated feature film like "Frozen."
Walt Disney Pictures
Sven the reindeer brings plenty of laughs to "Frozen."
Walt Disney Pictures
Kristoff's and Sven in "Frozen."
Walt Disney Pictures

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menze, Jonathan Groff

Directed by: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Stars: 3 1/2 out of 4

Rating: PG

Disney's "Frozen" is not the only effort to bring the tale of the character who can create cold weather to the big screen. More than a dozen film adaptations have been made, including:

"The Snow Queen" (2013): In this live-action version, the Snow Queen has been slowly draining the world of one of its most precious resources for hundreds of years. Two groups of adventurers separated by time take on the queen and her legion of demons, one group armed with swords, the other with assault rifles.

"The Snow Queen" (2012): This animated film released internationally last winter got a quiet release in the United States this fall. Our heroine is Gerda who, along with her pet ferret, Luta, must save both her brother and the world from the Snow Queen.

"Snow Queen" (2002): Bridget Fonda stars as the Snow Queen in this live-action TV version in which a young girl must rescue her boyfriend from the evil queen.

"The Snow Queen" (1995): Helen Mirren provides the voice of the Snow Queen in this animated entry in which two young children foil the queen's plot to use a magic mirror to freeze the world.

There's no shortage of princesses in the Disney coterie, ranging from Snow White in classics like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to recent arrivals like Rapunzel in "Tangled."

Disney's latest animated feature, "Frozen," brings two more worthy additions to the list with sisters Anna and Elsa, princesses of the northern land of Arendelle.

Technically, it's Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) and Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel); both are strong characters who'll have audiences rooting for them this holiday season.

"Frozen" opens with the two young sisters using Elsa's power to control the cold for an indoor snow party. But an accident forces Elsa and her parents to make the hard choice to isolate Elsa from her sister and the kingdom while she learns to control her power as she grows up.

This ill-fated decision leaves Anna without a playmate. And the untimely deaths of their parents leaves both girls growing up lonely.

When she turns 18, Elsa is slated to graduate from princess to queen at a grand coronation ceremony which Anna greatly anticipates but Elsa dreads. It does not go well. Elsa's power spins out of control, spreading winter across the land in the middle of summer.

The "Frozen" story is classic Disney, with princesses and a kingdom, conniving bad guys, ignorant locals, the tragic loss of family, young love, good intentions gone wrong and the shunning of an innocent.

The familiar ground doesn't make the movie any less entertaining, though, as Anna embarks on a quest to reunite with her sister and save the kingdom. Along the way, she meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a handsome young ice-maker who reluctantly agrees to help her navigate the snowy highlands, but then gets caught up in her mission.

"Frozen" features more music than Disney's recent animated efforts, and the songs are up to par, either moving the story forward or providing some comic relief.

No Disney animated feature would be complete without some cute creatures. Olaf, a naïve snowman Elsa brought to life, and Sven, Kristoff's reindeer pal, bring plenty of laughs to the party.

True to Disney form, the animation is top-notch. It was done by Disney Studios, not Pixar, so it feels like "Tangled," not "Toy Story."

The film's biggest flaw is its lack of a really good bad guy. "Frozen" has its chilly characters, but no one to join the ranks of classic villains like Cruella De Vil or Captain Hook.

Unlike most recent, big-budget animated films, "Frozen" does not feature a host of major actors doing the voices. Bell ("Veronica Mars," "Heroes") is the only widely recognizable name, but this doesn't hurt the film at all.

The concept of an animated film based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" had been bouncing around the halls of Disney since the 1940s, failing to find traction due to the difficulty in making the Snow Queen a sympathetic character. This version was worth the wait, though. 

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