<i>Frozen</i> is due for release around Australia on Boxing Day, December 26, 2013.

Frozen is due for release around Australia on Boxing Day, December 26, 2013.

(PG, 102 minutes) Opens Thursday.
★★★★

Offering a fresh spin on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, this long-gestating Disney romp has not only trotted to the top of the US box office - scoring the studio's best animated opening ever - it's also signalled a seismic shift in the animation house's outlook.

For the first time, a female director, Jennifer Lee, is at the reins, albeit alongside a male counterpart, Chris Buck. Unashamedly family friendly in tone, but with enough twists and turns to keep its audience guessing, Frozen comes loaded with musical numbers (courtesy of Tony winner Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) that manage to feel both contemporary and classic in spirit.

Eternal optimist Anna (Kristen Bell) is on a mission to save her homeland, Arendelle, from a never-ending winter, which was inadvertently set off by her sister, the newly crowned Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel). Rugged mountain ice seller Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven come to Anna's aid, as does an amusingly naive snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), who wistfully dreams of an endless summer. A tribe of trolls, a giant snow monster and some dastardly courtiers back at home base all make for an evocative ride that's never as straightforward as it seems.

Granted, this is no Wreck It Ralph (which Lee co-wrote) nor does it match the wonderful Tangled. It doesn't seek to emulate any of Pixar's finest pictures, either. Rather, this is classic Disney in tone, albeit in a redux form, that harks back to a more innocent time - one of childlike wonder, attuned to the emotive yearnings of two siblings, one who is apparently cursed (Elsa) and one who is not (Anna).

The film-makers seem to have been caught off-guard by their newfound success. Both Buck and Lee professed surprise to me regarding the film's success in the US. Even Walt Disney himself had wanted to adapt the story, apparently, but hadn't got past crafting one song (which is included). Studio heads had left it in the ''too hard'' basket ever since, till Buck resurrected the idea five years ago. Will kids and their families similarly flock to see it here? There's no reason to think not. The film has enough magic, action, adventure and pizzazz to appeal to a remarkably broad audience. Take the kids and sing.

Below is a look at Elsa, voiced by Tony award winner, Idina Menzel from Wicked fame, singing "Let it Go".