You know you have a problem when a film opens with not only a singing number, but one about cutting ice. At least open with some kind of spectacle. The sense of weight and scale was non-existent, and design-wise, everything was totally phoned in, un-memorable, and same-facey. The pacing was so quick that there was no time to get attached to any character, the singing numbers had no structure and I've already forgotten them, there was no impact to any event or consequence ... I could go on and on and on about how flat everything was, but I'll leave it there.
It sounds like I'm being unnecessarily harsh in this review, but animated films have limitless potential to go all-out and be imaginative and intriguing. So, when something as celebrated as this film ends up being totally dull and uninspired, I tend to vent about it.
I get that it's a kids movie, but this was pure corporate drivel at its worst.
If you want to watch a good movie set in a frozen wasteland, watch John Carpenter's The Thing instead.
In all seriousness though, on the subject of GOOD animated movies, here's my list of what I consider to be the best, on the front of storytelling, impact, and compelling, memorable design. Not all of them are kids films, but I can say it's a pretty good mix.
1. AKIRA: While certainly not for kids, Akira is pure perfection. Visuals and animation astound me every time I watch it, and the story is enhanced by reading the amazing manga it's based off of. It has true lasting power as films should have.
2. 101 Dalmatians: Just oozing with not only charm, but heaps of style. Some of the best drawn characters I've seen in animation. Extremely funny and very well done in the storytelling department.
3. The Thief and the Cobbler: (workprint version, not the crappy miramax monstrosity) Masterpiece of animation, character design and inventive sequences. Breathed new life into a story told a million times before it.
4. The Iron Giant: One of the last really great traditionally animated films. Loved it as a kid, love it now. Visually excellent, charming, funny, entertaining. Also extremely moving.
5. Watership Down: Great adaptation of Richard Adams' novel, and actually rather improved upon some things. Very dark considering its about talking rabbits.
6. Ghost in the Shell: Amazing visually and intellectually challenging.
7. Princess Mononoke: My favorite Miyazaki by far. Probably his darkest, which is why I like it so much.
8. The Prince of Egypt: Gorgeous animation and character design, and handled its subject matter with sophistication and respect.
9. The Plague Dogs: Another Richard Adams adaptation, handled very well. By the same team as Watership Down, but actually animated better in my opinion.
10: Feherlofia: Also known as Son of the White Mare, Feherlofia is perhaps the most unique looking animated film I've ever watched. A masterpiece of 2-dimensional design. Doesn't need a complicated story to get the point across either.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Fire and Ice
Fritz the Cat
Beauty and the Beast
The Road to El Dorado
Triplets of Bellville
Toy Story trilogy
Wallace and Gromit series
Vampire Hunter D 2