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

5 comments:

  1. Yeah, I was ready to tap out when Anna wanted to get married to the prince she had just met. I'm glad they ended up handling that in an interesting way, but it was rocky for a good long while.

    And yeah, I was so mad at the parents. "Conceal, don't feel" is not a good message to send to kids who are dealing with disabilities or socially unpopular feelings. I know the movie eventually shows that things work out fine in the end, but it still bugged me. I'm with you.

    (Also, I think Andy paid for our tickets, haha. We do appreciate being taken to the movies! It was fun to be with family, even if the movie wasn't the best ever.)

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    1. Oops! I thought we paid him back for that...

      Yes, those parents. Ugh. I dunno about you, but if I had a kid that could do cool ice stuff and they weren't a psychopath who wanted to freeze everyone's hearts on purpose, you can bet I'd be all over helping them learn to accept and control their powers.

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    2. I'm glad that they at least included a few short montage clips of the parents speaking to Elsa and giving her gloves and stuff to try and help. It's way better than just locking her in a room and forgetting about her completely.

      But yeah, I'm with you. Although it was unclear, it looked like they MAY have actually tried to control (rather than hide) the ice powers in the movie, but it just didn't work out after a while. But when that failed, they should have given her a secret place in those snowy mountains where she could practice freely. Maybe getting it out of her system every once in a while would have been a decent solution. She seemed to be able to control herself well enough after she made that giant castle, right? Enough to fight off those guards and restrain herself well enough to avoid killing them. Maybe that was all she needed.

      I dunno. It's easy to speculate about this stuff, but it would be hard if it were to happen in real life. I just think movies for kids, especially Disney movies, are held up to this standard of "this is how I should be when I grow up," and with a few exceptions, there weren't a whole lot of positive role modeling going on for most of the movie. Not that the Disney classics are really much better.

      Okay, rant over. Haha.

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  2. Thanks for writing this review, Rachel. Knowing there are others who see the flaws is a great feeling. No doubt I thought it was a good movie, but there was a lot concerning the characters that was really bugging me. The depictions of their personalities kinda ruined the whole "Fairy Tale" feel for me. Especially with the humor, which a lot of it seemed unnecessary. In the classic Disney princess animated films, the humor usually came from the character which we all call the comedy relief, while the main protagonists focus on the more serious issues at hand. In Frozen, we had that little snowman who served as comedy relief, but Anna and Kristoff were pretty much doing comedy relief as well, something I felt was pointless to have since the snowman and the reindeer already do that much, and so it made them look kinda dumb (I felt the same way about the protagonists in Tangled as well).

    Well, to anyone who reads this, I just wanted to get this off my chest, and I hope there are no hard feelings

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    1. Thank you for your honest response! (Sorry it's taken so long to respond...) I get what you mean about the main characters doing too much silly stuff when they had a comedy duo specifically made for that reason! I actually didn't find Olaf or Sven that funny, but that's probably both because it was made to be funny for a younger audience and because I was disappointed they were reusing the horse-as-a-dog trick disguised by antlers.

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