Frozen ★★★½

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Here's a film that tries to tell a fairly conventional story in an interesting and fresh way. That attempt, I believe, completely fails. But the end-product is actually far greater than the sum of its parts, however flawed some of these parts may be. It's got some serious thematic problems, and it's a musical which are the two obvious strikes against it for me. Musicals of this nature have always felt campy and infused with an over-produced and over-polished quality that disconnects me from the heart of the film and its sentiments. But that's not to say I hate everything about them - more on that later. I'm digressing.

First, the negatives: The film's resolution is unconventional for a Disney film, in what we can assume is an attempt to break the archetype of "damsel in distress saved only by her male hero." But in so doing it also loses sight of what actually needs to be resolved. The character who needs redemption the most isn't the one who gets it, and while on a superficial level it's a powerful sentiment to subvert our expectations of 'rescue', the tension is resolved all too conveniently for it.

The true villain of the film isn't made apparent until the third act, and it's a dearth of ill intentions in the primary characters with which we spend our time that restricts us as an audience from feeling any real stakes until too late in the film.

But these more plot-pertinent problems become less obvious when the film rolls along so smoothly and impressively. The animation and voice acting is superb - the snow and fabric effects are visually incredible - and the characters feel well-balanced and fresh, on the whole. The pacing is solid and though I'm usually feeling, while watching song-heavy films, as though I'm waiting for musical exposition to end in order to get back into the flow of the film proper, Frozen does a masterful job of moving plot and characters forward through these expositional elements.

The writing is quite good and there's plenty of clever jokes for audiences of all ages. I will even admit that while the songs are no exception to the qualities of production I despise, there are moments I enjoyed in every single one of them - that's real progress, methinks.

In short, all of these positives stack up the scale to vastly outweigh the negatives. The experience on the whole, however lightweight and not quite the boundary-pushing effort it could have been, is quite magical and deserving of the acclaim this film has garnered.