It may be a coincidence that a Russian animation studio decided to make a movie based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Snow Queen at the same time as Disney’s big-budget feature, “Frozen,” inspired by the same source. But it is probably not a coincidence that the low-budget, low-quality Russian version got distribution in the United States as it would otherwise not have attracted any interest beyond the straight-to-DVD bin. Russia, which once produced animation of exquisite beauty and storytelling, shows with this film that it can churn out uninspired, dull animation just like everyone else. The visuals are poorly conceived, with characters that are hardly more expressive than Weebles apart from the cleavage that is the most notable feature of at least three of the female characters. The vocal performances are uninspired and uninvolving. And the one effect that words, a 360 degree swoop-around, is relentlessly overused. The script is muddled and dull. Plus, there are fart jokes.
This version of the story has a little girl named Gerda (Jessica Strauss) in search of her brother just as The Snow Queen (Cindy Robinson) has sent her troll (Douglas Erholtz, trying to sound like a Borscht belt comic) to find her. The Snow Queen has frozen the world. Gerda’s brother is her captive. And Gerda may have some sort of secret power to conquer the Snow Queen, having to do with a mirror that reveals the true self.
Gerda and the troll have various PG encounters along the way that all seem to be half-heartedly designed to teach lessons about cooperation, bullying, and family. There’s a king with squabbling children, a lady who grows fragrance-less flowers in a hothouse, and a pirate captain and her daughter. The flat affect of the vocal performances and bland expressionlessness of the characters has a soporific quality. Both seem…frozen.
Parents should know that this film has fairy tale/fantasy peril and violence, with guns, fire, and pirates. Parents are killed.
Family discussion: How did being bullied affect the girl with special powers? How were Gerda and the pirate girl alike? What made the flowers smell?
If you like this, try: “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship”