The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"SNOW QUEEN"

Snow Queen

Snow Queen is a Russian animated film produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Newly dubbed into English for release on our shores, the movie aims for the kind of fairy-tale magic that exemplifies many of the best animated features. While by no means a disaster, it nonetheless falls short of the goal.

The story concerns an evil, unhappy Snow Queen who wants to cover the world in ice. Only one thing stands in her way: a wizard glass-maker whose mirrors reflect the souls of anybody who gazes into them. Needless to say, one might not like what one sees in such a mirror. Determined to never face this possibility, Snow Queen kills the wizard and kidnaps his son Kai, so that the boy will not be able to take over his father's duties. Then she finds out that Kai has a sister, Gerda. She sends her troll minion, Orm, to lead Gerda into a trap to get rid of her, too. There is a powerful bond between brother and sister, though, and together, they begin to fight back.

There's nothing inherently wrong with Snow Queen. It's a pleasant enough movie with some nice visuals. Much of the story is set in snowy/icy locales, and they are beautifully animated. A sequence in which two characters traverse a collapsing ice bridge is especially eye-popping. The same goes for the climax, set in the Snow Queen's castle, which finds a multitude of ice creatures doing battle with our heroes.

That said, the problem faced by the movie is that, while it's not bad, it's also simply not good enough. Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, and Blue Sky have collectively set the bar very high for animated fare, with their charming characters, meaningful stories, and smart humor. Compared to their films, Snow Queen is an also-ran. The characters don't have a whole lot of personality, and the humor is largely of the fart joke variety. Also, the story is kind of disjointed. Orm leads Gerda on a trip in which they meet unusual people, such as a crazy plant lady, a group of pirates, and an Eskimo. These moments feel more like a set of ideas than an actual plot, however. Never are they substantially integrated into the main idea of the movie.

Snow Queen may entertain young kids, and, at a brisk 73 minutes (minus end credits), it's painless for adults to sit through. Just don't be surprised if your child asks to watch Brave or Shrek again when it's over.

( out of four)

Note: Snow Queen is playing in theaters and is also available on demand.


Snow Queen is unrated, but is suitable for all ages. The running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes.


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