Disney’s latest spinoff app gets the story beats right but misses some magic in a problematic adaptation from film.
As in the titular film, itself an almost unrecognizable adaptation of “The Snow Queen,” princesses Elsa and Anna are separated when Elsa accidentally injures her sister with her ice magic. Years later, a stressful public event causes Elsa to reveal her powers and to inadvertently freeze the kingdom. Elsa flees but is followed by Anna, who sets off on a quest to save her sister. This story is told in a mix of illustrated pages and film clips. None of the songs from the movie are included, and the animated sequences appear washed-out compared to the bold, bright colors of the app’s illustrations. While the plot is recounted in bland, by-the-numbers passages (“Kristoff took Anna to the trolls. The trolls said that Elsa had put ice in Anna’s heart”), the app’s background music, visuals and narration are well-produced. And the app’s best feature (or gimmick if you’re cynical) is that some story pages can be swapped out by rotating the iPad 180 degrees, shifting Anna’s story to Elsa’s. The app designers wisely give plenty of attention to Olaf, the clueless, scene-stealing snowman. Extras include an ice-themed free-drawing tool, a snow globe and a set of frustrating puzzles in which shards of ice must be matched up.
A pale shadow of the movie experience. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)