Monday, December 30, 2013

Frozen

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone! The holidays always get a little crazy, but there have been a lot of things I want to discuss. We'll focus on just one of those things today: Frozen.


My rating: *** (3/5 stars)

So... This movie was over-hyped for me, to start. My little sister claimed it's so great that she'd already seen it multiple times and had the soundtrack (the music is suited well to her, I give it that). But it hardly lived up to this "best movie ever" standard. Graphically, the movie is practically identical to Tangled, which isn't necessarily a bad thing on its own, but... Sven was just another not-so-funny version of Maximus (Remember the horse that acted like a dog? That was funny! Let's recycle it, but using a reindeer--because Christmas.) and Kristoff is not the charming, interesting character that Flynn Rider was.

Story Time

So the movie starts off with a sad story about two little princesses, one of whom--Elsa--has ice magic. They love playing together, until Elsa accidentally hits her little sister in the face with her ice powers. From then on, their horrible parents teach Elsa to fear and hide her powers and make the little sister, Anna, forget that she has them. Parents go off on a trip and die, leaving a broken Elsa and naive Anna to care for the kingdom. (To the composer's credit, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" was a fabulous song.) Elsa is to hide her powers while she's made queen, while Anna is looking for love.

So Anna, of course, meets a handsome prince who sweeps her off her feet. She hangs out with the guy all day and they sing a song about true love and getting married. So she goes to Elsa wanting approval--thankfully Elsa has a good head on her shoulders and does not give her blessing. But, Anna provokes her, and she ends up using ice magic. Some people start to call Elsa a monster, and because she's emotional and her ice skills have been stunted by her crappy parents, Elsa runs away to protect everyone from herself.

As she does so she plunges everything into an eternal winter by accident. Anna vows to find her sister and get her to stop the snow and come home. Kristoff and Sven and Olaf the snowman are nice sidekicks there to help her on her quest.

A Frozen Heart

"Aww, adorable!" ...no. Just no.

***Spoilers After This Point***
Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the heart with her magic, starting a countdown to death. Central to the story is this idea that the only thing that can cure a "frozen heart" is an act of true love. Assuming that "true love's kiss" is the thing that will save her, Anna rushes back to the kingdom, where she'd left the man she met that day in charge. When she left him there, my husband and I exchanged a few words: "You can't do that, you dummy! He'd better turn out to be the villain!" (You know, the real villain, since Mr. Weaselface was a boringly obvious red herring.)

Of course, true to our prediction, he states, "If only there was someone who loved you," leaves Anna to die, and proceeds to take over the kingdom and declare Elsa a traitor. Oh noes, who will perform "true love's kiss" now, thinks Anna, and proceeds to go after Kristoff. 

There are a few major problems with this, the first of which was addressed beautifully by my mother, who said,
"A kiss is not an act of true love. True love is demonstrated by your everyday actions, how you treat the person, and the sacrifices you make."
The other major fallacy, of course, is that "true love" is only possible between a couple in a relationship, and not through friend and family bonds.

If you've seen the show, I know what you're thinking right now: "But Rachel, the movie debunks these myths! Didn't you watch it all the way to the end?"

And I'm getting to that. But first remember that a great deal of the movie is spent focusing on this notion of "true love's kiss" and even deals us a horribly stupid song about how much men suck without a woman to change them, reinforcing those stereotypes about romance and gender roles. If it weren't for the last five minutes of the film, and Kristoff had indeed kissed Anna better, as was the set-up, this movie would have been a total disaster.

*makes gagging noise*

Redemption

There was so much focus on the stuff that made my eyes roll that if I hadn't spent money on it (and I was on my own), I might have walked out. It was boring, predictable, and... well, unsatisfactory. It wasn't until those last few minutes that it redeemed itself. I would have been so disappointed, especially thanks to all that unnecessary hype, if "true love's kiss" had saved the day in yet another Disney princess movie (and since they didn't even remotely follow the book, there's no excuse). Luckily, it was Anna's love for her sister, and her willingness to sacrifice herself to protect her, that caused her heart to thaw (though not without some added drama). It was a beautiful moment, and I was glad the movie got something right.

So, eh. Ultimately it was decent, but not up to my usual standards.

-Rachel

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Olive

Between the holiday prep, starting a new job, and a frustrating illness, I've been a bit preoccupied over the last few weeks. But none of that was quite as fun or as stressful as dealing with this:


This is Olive, an adorable, energetic kitty that needs a home. I already have a cat, Luna, but Jaron and I were considering looking for a second one when we were asked if we could take Olive. "...if you're for cereal about getting rid of her and don't have any other takers, then yes, we would make her at home here," I said.

Of course, this would all depend on whether or not little Olive would get along with Luna.

For starters, there's a big gap in the ages there. Luna is a senior cat, 11 1/2 years old. Olive is 2 1/2. Olive is very playful, running around, exploring everything, and quickly moving from one interest to another; Luna is content to sit in your lap and sleep. So while Olive was excited to be in our home, Luna was not so thrilled.

Secondly, Olive is deaf. She can't hear you call her name, or tell her 'no'. That's never stopped her from being an adorable ball of cuddly, or from learning the rules--squirt bottle training was pretty effective--but it did stop her from hearing how unhappy Luna was with her. She couldn't hear Luna growling at her whenever she tried to play with her. She was completely oblivious to it, and it frustrated Luna to the point where she actively sought Olive out to hiss in her face.

For reference, this is not like Luna at all. At all. Even when we babysat a kitten, Luna was pretty submissive and let the other cat stomp all over her territory. When she met Olive, she didn't seek out confrontation--she hid under the bed while Olive explored. We were sure to let Luna know that the space was hers, but she avoided her. Until Olive tried to play.


Aside from Luna's issues, it was a pretty interesting experience. Olive tried to follow me into the shower. She played with Luna's cardboard castle so much it kinda broke. She curled up around my legs and demanded petting and attention, but she was not afraid to nip at me if I did something she didn't like. And because she can't hear herself, the way she drinks water is adorably loud. But, after a week, we had to let Olive go. The trial period was over, and Luna was not happy.

Olive still needs a home, so if you know anyone in the Salt Lake area who is looking for a cat, please share this with them. She's a total sweetie who loves lots of attention, and I'd hate to see her go to the shelter.

-Rachel Frost