(directors: Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee; screenwriters: Jennifer Lee, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”; cinematographer: Scott Beattie; editor: Jeff Draheim; music: Christopher Beck; cast: WITH THE VOICES OF: Kristen Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gad (Olaf), Santino Fontana (Hans), Alan Tudyk (Duke of Weselton), Ciaran Hinds (Pabbie/Grandpa); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Peter Del Vecho; Walt Disney Animation Studios; 2013)

Cool 3-D animated tale of magic that features the voicesof Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cool 3-D animated tale of magic that features the voicesof Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. It’s co-directed by Chris Buck (co-director of Tarzan and Surf’s Up) and Jennifer Lee (co-screenwriter of Wreck-It-Ralph). She’s billed as the first female director of a Disney animated feature film. Ms. Lee is also the writer. It’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s endearing fairy tale The Snow Queen. The pic is delightfully geared to children and its magic is everywhere, such as in mystical trolls, snowballs created out of thin air, in Olaf the snowman, and in its fairy tale prophesies. Stocked favorably with old-time flavors and not so favorably with modern attitudes (annoyingly introduced in the slang teen talk of Anna). The overall crowd-pleasing Disney animation is musically rich, funny, warm, cloying, energetic and filled with spectacular visual effects. A sure box office triumph.

It’s a tale of two princesses who are sisters. Elsa (Idina Menzel) possesses enormous magical powers. She’s a beautiful brooding older blond. The younger redhead sister Anna (Kristen Bell) is a bit daffy and playful. They are raised by their strict parents in isolation in a vast luxurious castle. When they lose their parents in a shipwreck, the orphan teenager Elsa is crowned queen. During Elsa’s coronation her dark powers are unleashed when she takes off her gloves after hearing of her sister’s sudden marriage plans (she uses gloves to keep under wraps her dark occult powers, which are only triggered by her extreme emotional reactions). As a result her small Nordic kingdom of Arendelle is cursed with an eternal winter. Realizing wherever she goes without her gloves she turns things to snow, the cursed queen thereby runs away alone to live in solitude and without rules on North Mountain. Meanwhile her subjects suffer from the cold back home.

Anna, who just became smitten at first sight at the coronation with the handsome Prince Hans (Santino Fontana), of the neighboring Southern Isles, departs solo to find her sister. On the way she meets hunky good-natured ice seller mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven. Soon they are joined by buck-toothed snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), a creation of Elsa’s magic, as they wander through the rugged terrain, dark forests, and the snow to eventually uncover where the queen has taken sanctuary.

It turns out Hans is a creep and sneakily partners with the greedy foreign duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk), only interested in gaining mercantile favor through unethical methods with the new queen. They thereby organize their own expedition to find the Queen. It results in a twisty conclusion, that ensues with lots of action. Too bad it’s too convoluted to totally work, but the effort to make the animation better than safer recent animation efforts is greatly welcomed.