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Frozen

Year: 2013
Studio: Disney
Director: Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Writer: Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff

How fortunes can change. A few years ago the best years of Disney's own animation arm seemed far behind it and Pixar was the King Midas of the animation studios. Even the other studios (who'd never even had animation division before) were cleaning the floor with the Mouse house because of franchises like Ice Age and Madagascar.

Now Pixar is relying on sequels, the last few of which have all been met with a resounding 'meh' while this update of Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen is threatening to join the billion-dollar club.

Funny though, because from my perspective (admittedly, someone who doesn't like either kids' films or musicals), it's the same thing Disney have always done – take an old myth or legend, plonk a group of American teenage archetypes into it, throw in some funny animals, stoke little-girl aspirations of being princesses and marrying handsome princes (no matter how feminist the incremental updates) and stir the pot.

When sisters Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) are little, they're quite used to Elsa'a magic powers of making snow and ice like the Emperor with his force lighting. But when Elsa unwittingly hurts Anna, her royal parents convince her to lock herself away from the world and her sister rather than do more damage.

The girls grow into young women when it's time to open the gates of the kingdom for Elsa's coronation and it's Anna's first chance to see everything she's imagined about the world outside.

But during the ceremony Elsa loses control and unleashes icy hell, fleeing the kingdom and building an ice palace in the mountains to lock herself away all over again. The problem is she's left the kingdom in a state of perpetual winter, so it's up to Anna and local ice-delivery boy Kristoff (Groff) to convince her to come back and put things right.

It's done in the new style of photo-real CGI animated figures rather than the old hand drawn cel style – maybe after a couple of decades of Pixar, Dreamworks Animation and their contemporaries anything less just looks stupid to kids of today.

It's got the funny sidekick characters – in this case a living snowman called Olaf (Gad) – and everything else you expect, including the characters breaking into song and you wishing you had a knife you could slice your throat open with rather than endure another number.

Although I will say the first half had me surprised how well it was passing the Bechdel test – something I never thought we'd see in a Disney movie even as replete with princesses as they are.

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