Nationwide the weather is beginning to turn colder as fall approaches, but Disney is already teasing winter wonderlands with their latest poster for their Thanksgiving release Frozen. The image above was released to USA Today along with some new details on its frosty premise. From left to right, we have Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), Anna (Kristen Bell), Olaf the living snowman (Josh Gad), Elsa (Idina Menzel), and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). While the snowy poster certainly sells the icy climate of this family-friendly feature, it does little else to interest us. It’s nowhere near as eye-catching as the movie’s previously released series of vibrant character posters.
Penned by Shane Morris and Wreck-It Ralph co-writer Jennifer Lee, Frozen offers a new take on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. As a nod to the Danish author’s own heritage and influences, the film’s directors, Lee and Surf’s Up’s Chris Buck, chose a Scandinavian setting for this 3D musical adventure. Its story centers on sisters Anna and Elsa. The latter has mystical powers that allow her to control ice and snow, but when she accidently unveils them in public she is forced to run away to the mountains. Unexpectedly, Elsa’s departure plummets the kingdom into an endless winter. To bring about spring, the underestimated Anna goes on a quest to recover Elsa, and finds help from rugged mountain man Kristoff and the goofy Olaf.
"It's also a beautiful story of sisterhood and coming to respect each other," Menzel tells the publication, adding, “Through the film's journey Elsa comes to learn how to harness the power and find a way to sort of accept herself for who she is."
To be frank, it’s been a pretty blah year for animated movies so far. Sure, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 were big winners at the box office, pulling in $730 million and $840 million respectively worldwide. But neither sequel offered anything sensational or terribly original. And as we approach award season, I begin to wonder what could possibly fill the Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards. DreamWorks Animation's caveman road movie The Croods was charming, but received mixed reviews, while the studio’s Turbo did win critical praise but barely broke even at the box office. Then there are the clear underachievers: Disney’s Planes--which was nearly a straight-to-DVD release—and Fox’s Epic was devotedly mediocre.
While some of these movies were fun, few could be held up as awe-inspiring examples of the animation genre. Might Frozen break this less than illustrious streak? Its bare bones are promising. Hans Christian Andersen tales have been the inspiration for such outstanding movies as the Academy Award-winning dance drama The Red Shoes and the Disney classic The Little Mermaid. Directors Lee and Morris have shown to have a kinetic storytelling style that dabbles in new techniques. Wreck-It Ralph made the landscapes of video games into a wondrous interconnected system rich with adventures, and Surf’s Up brought a documentary style to a sports movie, making it uniquely engaging for kids and adults.
Then there’s the cast that not only boasts skilled character actors like Gad, Bell, and Alan Tudyk, but also heralded singers like Broadway star Menzel, Glee star Groff…and Gad again, as he originated the role of Elder Cunningham in the Tony-winning sensation The Book of Mormon. As to whether all these pieces will fit together to make a film that’s worthy of notice come Oscar time, we’ll see when Frozen opens on November 27th.