I avoided watching Disney’s Frozen for a long time, no lie. I hate overblown hype despise maniacal product placement, and unfortunately kid’s movies suffer through the worsr of it (remember Tangled? Ugh). I did finally get around to seeing it though, and it’s an utter delight. A little thin in the plot department, mind you, but that’s where the Disney wizards compensate with stunning visuals, effervescent voice acting and of course that legendary, now iconic song, belted out by Idina Menzel’s Elsa high atop a snowy peak. I heard that song played into oblivion before I ever saw the film, and didn’t ever think I’d be able to enjoy it again without getting the ol’ eyelid twitch, but seeing the real thing in the context of the film, with a little help from my home theater system, well…. let it go indeed. Menzel and Kristen Bell are touching as the two sisters, Anna the doe eyed princess with the world at her feet, Elsa the fierce and independent rebel who doesn’t fit in. Her magical abilities with snow and ice allow for some unbelievable computer effects, and the ice palace she creates is a gem of a set piece, intricately woven and detailed to the max. Their castle down below is designed with traditional Germanic decoration in mind, a nod to the inspiration they have no doubt received from Hans Christian Anderson’s original storybook, The Snow Queen. Like I said before, what’s there in plot is spread pretty thin, but it’s no matter, because this one is fuelled by visuals. Sweeping mountains packed it powdery snow drifts, ornate castles, beautifully designed costumes, sleds, dresses and animals, including Sven the rambunctious reindeer. It’s a jewel of ocular achievement. Oh and I might add, that Swedish sounding dude who runs the little shop way up the mountain is probably the funniest character Disney has created in years.
Disney’s Zootopia is the kind of animated film that passes with flying colors in just about every damn category it needs to, making it a thoroughly endearing classic that will stand the test of time and delight countless new fans as time goes on. It’s the best of its kind since last year’s Inside Out, and one that will be hard to top this time around. It’s got the most treasurable kind of story, one that has all the fun, flash and zip that the kids will take a shine to, some hilariously subversive and cheeky humour for the the adults to chuckle at, and some vital, important messages within its themes that adults will knowingly relate to, and the kids will subconsciously perceive. Never preachy nor pandering, all of its ingredients are mixed harmoniously. And let’s talk about that animation, good lord. Every year these films get more cutting edge and eye boggling, and this one busts the blueprints in its attempts to dazzle, with every kind of texture, glint and rendered gold on display. Animals of all shapes and sizes run, scamper, dart and dive throughout the film, to the point where I felt that only with multiple viewings could I appreciate every loving detail and subtle joke. Ginnifer Goodwin gives perky vocals to Judy Hops, a small town bunny who dreams of being a big city cop. Just leagues away from the tiny carrot farm she was raised on lies Zootopia, a sprawling metropolis where the denizens of the animal kingdom live in civilization, or rather, their brilliantly realized version of it. She is told time and time again that she’ll never become a cop, but pays no heed. And whadd’ya know, she becomes a cop. Left to rot on parking duty by stern bison Sergeant Bogo (growly Idris Elba) she fumes and longs for real action. Soon she meets wily fox and street hustler Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman in possibly the best vocal performance in years), and both are whisked away on an adventure through Zootopia to find some bad cats (and every other creature imaginable) who are up to no good. The city itself is a marvel in every sense of the word. Divided into detailed, vast and climatized zones including Tundra Town, Little Rodentia (laughed hardest at this sequence, purely inspired) and a subtropical tree house lined Rainforest area. The cast has buckets of fun, including JK Simmons as Mayor Lionheart, Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake as Judy’s endearing parents, Tommy Chong as a yak hippie, Peter Mansbridge as Peter ‘Moosebridge’, and more. Shakira shows up essentially as herself in animal form, with an original composition called ‘Try Everything’ which gives the film a lot of its charm and heart. Bateman just has to be commended for a performance so full of real conflict and shades of grey its hard to belive hes playing a fox in a Disney flick. Despite being in the most hyper real of all genres, hes walked right out of real life amd nails every note. There’s so many highlights I could write for pages, but I won’t spoil the fun, of which there’s no end. There’s also a very grounded head on the film’s shoulders, saying some important things about not giving up on your dreams (sounds clichéd, I know, but not the way the writing addresses it here), and never assuming one thing about a specific group of animals just because of the way a few of them behave. Subversive stuff for a kids movie, and I’d have it no other way, as the undercurrents of film forge minds and opinions for the young ones. Simply put, it’s destined to be a classic, and comes up a winner no matter how you look at it. Oh, and try not to bust a gut laughing at the sloth sequence, I dare you.