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Disney gets it right with 'Frozen'

  • (Disney)

Walt Disney Pictures has its animation mojo back. Finally.

With a cool, contemporary spin on a fairy-tale classic, a dramatic Nordic landscape animated in splendid storybook style and Broadway vets belting out power ballads, “Frozen” is an icy blast of fun from the very first flake. A certain scene-stealing snowman named Olaf chief among them.

Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee create a magical 3-D winter wonderland in “Frozen.” A sisterhood saga loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's “The Snow Queen,” it is filled with heart and heart-stopping action.

It is a much-needed thaw after a very long winter for Disney's legendary cartoon brand.

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Last year's “Wreck-It Ralph” was a hoot — the video-arcade battle between good and evil very current in story and style. But “Ralph” never felt like it belonged to the same family as Disney's modern-day classics such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

The in-between years have been marked by a lot of nice, but not especially noteworthy movies. Meanwhile, Pixar stepped in and stole the company's animated show with “Up,” “Cars,” “Toy Story” and “Wall-E,” to name a few.

But “Frozen” is fabulous. Its thrills and chills are brought to life by an excellent ensemble of voices led by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. As Anna and Elsa, respectively, they are sisters and the princesses of the mythical Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle where the story is set.

The film represents a fusion of old and new both on-screen and behind it. Lee, who co-wrote “Wreck-It Ralph” (with Phil Johnston) and has sole credit for “Frozen,” is also the first female to sit in a Disney animation directing chair. She's done a bang-up job wearing both hats. For Buck, who's been in Disney's animation trenches since 1981's “The Fox and the Hound,” “Frozen” is his third feature — and his best — as a director. Despite the blizzard conditions, there is nary a slip or stumble from start to finish.

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