Watching Frozen, you can physically feel Disney heaving their arms free of the quagmire as they watch Pixar sprint into the distance. But that swamp is seventy years of their own movies and there’s still a long way to go.
The movie starts so well. Indigenous Scandinavian music pounds and choirs through the cinema and you think “Yes! Maybe this Disney musical won’t be Americans talking to each other over music!” Nope! But that was a nice thought while it lasted. It was like Disney realized that musical flexibility and an entire world of inspiration were wonderful things, then ticked that box as done in the first five minutes.
Then they do the exact same thing with the characters, opening with Elsa, an empowered, interesting, and deeply conflicted character, then whipping her away to make room for Anna’s quest for love. Because looking for a boyfriend is much more interesting than a superpowered struggle against the elements and self. You’re halfway through before you realize that Elsa isn’t the main character but the unintentional villain, and instead of seeing someone struggle with their true nature we watch Anna looking for a boy, hurray, found a boy! Sure, the first boy she met was evil, but then the second one is great, so if you think all your problems will be solved as long as you find a boy you’re absolutely right about that. Just keep looking.
I mean, who wants to see an array of gorgeously rendered ice effects representing a deep emotional struggle for self-acceptance anyway. Apart from everyone who loved “Let it go” as the best bit of the movie, because that should have been the entire movie. Instead let’s watch two teenagers pretend they’re not going to bang for a solid hour and a half.
The king and queen are the worst parents in history (“Don’t every use your abilities, to help we’ll lock you in a room where you have nothing else to even think about doing for your entire life!”), but they’re also the worst king and queen in history. They’re scared of people finding out about Elsa’s powers and forming an angry mob, and sure, that might be a risk if you’re a commoner and stupid enough NOT to freeze people who are trying to burn you at the stake, but they’re royalty! They live in a castle! They have an army! Their entire life, job, and social structure is designed to be utterly mob-proof!
Plus they live in country whose only access routes are water and already half-impossible frozen mountains. They should have introduced her as a blessing, princess, and ultimate weapon all at once. “Behold, our kingdom need never fear invasion again! And if anyone feels like complaining, first please watch what happens when Elsa freezes this banana and then hits it with a hammer.”