Its pretensions to the contrary, this is nothing we haven’t seen before, because Disney doesn’t mess with a lucrative formula. Hans Christen Andersen’s The Snow Queen gets the Mouse House combination of square-jawed, somewhat obtuse but funny hero, spunky heroines who pour their hearts out in song, and diminutive, anthropomorphic sidekicks for comic relief. As usual, love is the answer, though that brand of love comes with what passes for feminism in a Disney-fied fairy tale.
Those less than charitable toward Disney entertainment will see a smiling banality in the creation of yet another batch of characters to merchandise to kids. Though Disney has imbued recent films like Brave and Frozen with girl-power sensibility, the efforts still feel commercially calculated to sell decorated twin-size bed sheets.
This is a tale of two sibling princesses — one of whom will grow up to be queen. Elsa (Idina Menzel), like a reluctant Jack Frost, is cursed with the power to create ice and snow. Because using that power nearly killed her little sister Anna (Kirsten Bell), Elsa's ability compels her parents, the king and queen of Norway's Arendelle, to confine her to her room. That separation upsets the free-spirited Anna as she grows — particularly because she has no recollection of having been harmed by Elsa. Most of Frozen has Anna trying to connect with Elsa, whose powers have left the kingdom covered in snow.
Frozen is a close cousin to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast — a main character in self-exile in an opulent castle, two men pining for the same woman, a message that only true love can break a curse. The movie recalls not just previous Disney successes, but also bits taken from the X-Men series and Star Wars. Where Frozen pales in comparison to forbears like The Little Mermaid and Beauty is in the songs — the music and lyrics are as generic and forgettable as anything you’d hear in a live production at the Magic Kingdom. Which this lackluster film is surely destined to become.