Frozen could have been the best Disney film in the past 20 years. "Could have been" being the important phrase in that sentence. That and "but it really really isn't" that is very much implied. Of course, now it isn't implied, it is just told to you. So there you go.
To get it out of the way, the music and musical-ness of Frozen are its best attributes, and if that was all the movie was, it would be an A+ all the way. Buy the soundtrack, and look forward to the announced Broadway musical version, which will be superior to the film in every way, and I very much hope that they get Josh Gad and Idina Menzel back on stage for their roles from the film.
The opening 10 or 20 minutes of Frozen are masterful. Amazing. Glorious. Had me weeping and happy and thinking "Well gosh darn, how have I not heard about this movie being amazing, this is the best Disney film I've seen in forever! I cannot wait to own this!" Then another 10 or 20 minutes go by, and they are pretty good. Then another 10 or 20 minutes go by, and they are ... fine. And it just continues to deflate and lose interest. Ultimately, it is still a good movie, but it could have been so much more.
The movie itself feels ashamed of its musical nature and fairy-tale genre. The music is amazing and heartfelt and great, and then it just kind of trails off for jokes or action, then it just stops being a musical all together, with no songs or musical tropes or any of that just after the one hour mark or so. And the fairy tale stuff just kind of gets lost in its manic attempt to do action and jokes and drama. The timeframe of the film is so rushed that it really suffers giving any weight to anything the characters do. There is no sense of difficulty or travel, they just pop about from one place to another, unless they have an action set piece they want to do.
The film is beautiful (for the most part), and the writing, while not amazing, is fun and in some parts very very good. The snow looks great, and the world itself really does look Scandinavian, except for our two protagonists who look as un-Scandinavian as possible, with little tiny noses and the biggest daggum cartoon eyes. Their facial designs off-put me, though everything else about them worked perfectly.
There is a heel turn to finally give the movie a real antagonist, but it shows up too late, comes out of nowhere and again, has no real weight to it. And if the movie had just kept a hold of its musical nature, this could have easily been fixed with a Villain's Song, a time-honored tradition in Disney films. But nope, it is just "SWEET CHIN MUSIC TO THE FACE" and bam, evil character now.
I wanted to love this movie. I watched the first 20 minutes thinking I would. But it just settled into its uncomfortable shame, not wanting to alienate viewers by being a Disney fairy-tale musical. Which it is. Or is nominally. And that killed it for me. Buy the soundtrack. Eventually watch the movie once. But in the end, I left wanting to build a snowman, and forgetting the other 80 minutes of the movie.
Soundtrack Grade: A++