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Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Review: Frozen {2013}

Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” presents “Frozen,” a stunning big-screen comedy adventure. Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey-teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven-to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

I wasn't planning on watching this movie, simply because it was Disney, and except for a few older movies and a couple of Pixar films, my family doesn't really 'do' Disney (mostly because of the whole 'rebellious princess syndrome' that seems to permeate ninety-nine percent of their films).  I'd known about Frozen for quite a while (because, really, how could I be on-line and not know about it?) but the trailer didn't really impress me - it played the comic part of the movie up a lot, I must say.  I did think that the songs were amazing, but I listen to songs from stuff I haven't watched (mostly musicals), so that didn't really mean anything.  So, anyway, Frozen came out in theatres...and everyone was raving about it.  Still, that didn't mean anything, because most of the time, 'the public' goes crazy over all the wrong things (Twilight, anyone?).  My Pinterest feed exploded with Frozen pins, and my friends kept talking about how much they wanted to see it, or, if they had seen it, how amazing it was.  And it started to rub off on me.  One day, I was randomly searching for stuff on Youtube, when I decided to see if the full movie was on there (not too likely, but still...).  And it was (note: I'm not sure how long it will stay up, just so you know).

so adorable!
So, I watched it.

And here is my review.  It will include a bunch of spoilers, since I think it's finicky to always be putting SPOILER alerts in front of things.  I'm sure most of you know the plot or have seen the movie, so we're good :)

My favorite thing about Frozen, even more so than the songs, characters, humour, and beautiful animation, is that it turns the usual Disney movie formula on it's head and breaks the mold completely (okay, maybe not completely, but you've got to admit that there are big differences).  For one, there's two princesses (I know that's not really a big thing, but it is unique).  One of the biggest things is that the 'rebellious princess syndrome' that I mentioned earlier is inverted.  Sure, Elsa sings a 'take charge of my life because I don't need anyone's help ever again' song but like I'll explain a bit later when I talk about the characters, 'letting it go and testing the limits' isn't shown to be the best choice.  Frozen also gave a new twist to the 'love at first sight' thingy (please tell me I wasn't the only one shocked by the proposal at the end of 'Love Is An Open Door') which I think is awesome.

I can't get over how gorgeous that cloak is.
Next up...the characters.

:)Anna (pronounced 'AW-na' for some reason) is the main character (in some ways, I view Elsa as a slightly lesser main character, if that makes any sense) and she makes for a delightful one.  She's very quirky and clumsy and just a little bit silly ("We finish each other's-" "-sandwiches!") and I loved her.  She's probably the first Disney princess to actually have a really good relationship with her family (Elsa, particularly) and the amount of effort and sacrifice and love she puts into keeping her sister safe is one of the best points of the entire film.  Now, I know she falls in love with a guy and agrees to marry him all in one day, but, hey, we all make mistakes, right? (and I've got to admit that Hans was the biggest mistake she ever made)  She was just hungry for the affection that her sister never gave her, so she fell for the first person who came along (literally...).  One thing that really spoke to me about her character was how right after Elsa froze over Arrendale, she immediately took full responsibility for her sister's actions (since they were, in part, Anna's fault) and set off to find her.  Gotta love a girl like that.

Elsa.  Now there's a complex character.  The trailers all make her out to be this evil sorceress who purposely locked Arrendale in an eternal winter for...what?  Revenge, or something?  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  From the time she was little, Elsa had the ability to create ice (the whole thing reminds me of a Shannon Hale book, even though her characters' powers aren't as physical - like in Princess Academy) which, though fun, was also extremely dangerous.  So her parents locked her up in a separate room, away from Anna (which is how the two sisters got to be estranged).  Anyway, the parents died, Elsa is crowned as queen and then in an argument with Anna over 'you can't marry a man you just met', she accidentally unleashes winter over Arrendale (strong emotions cause her to, well, emote, but in different ways than other people) and consequently runs away.  Now comes the rebel song - 'Let It Go'.  In the song, Elsa basically throws away her old life ("I'm never going back - the past is in the past!") and the rules of right and wrong.  But.  She is still very much governed by the sense of right and wrong/her conscience.  I think the reason she ran off like that was because she didn't want to hurt Anna anymore, so, might as well do it dramatically ;)  But in the end, she still needs her sister's support, because relying on her own power just causes trouble to escalate, in more ways than one.  So, the lesson we can learn from that is - letting everything go is just as bad as concealing every single teeny emotion.  And I think she reached a more than happy balance by the end of the film.

Wow.  I spent a long time talking about that.  I'd better move along to the other three side characters quickly...

team Kristoff, but I liked Hans as well.
Kristoff was the character who I was expecting to absolutely love but...well, it didn't quite happen for me.  I mean, I liked him and all (better than Flynn Ryder, which is saying something), but I don't think he was quite as amazing as everyone else says he is (*cough*Petie*cough*).  He was a lot more realistic than most of the other Disney princes have been (actually, I wouldn't say he's a prince, except he marries a princess in the end).  Think, Prince Charming in Cinderella (what sort of a name is 'Charming', anyway?).  Nope, Kristoff is nothing like that.  He a rough and tough ice-harvester who was raised by trolls (yes, trolls) and he practically has no social graces when he meets Anna (and for quite a while afterwards).  Buuuuut, his actions near the ending were incredibly sweet, so he's still on my list of favorite heroes (just not near the top).

I don't know why, but I always loved the idea of summer, and SUN, and all things HOT...
no, that's not Hans.  it's Olaf.
As for Hans...what can I say?  I soooo wish he hadn't turned out to be the villain because he was pretty much a perfect prince (lyrics from the Cinderella musical come to mind..."He's our hero.  Such perfection.  He's the kind of guy that we'd all like to be." which is kinda ironic since he's voiced by Santino Fontana who plays Prince Topher in Cinderella) and he was really kind and helpful when Anna left him in charge of the kingdom.  But I'm not condoning his actions later on, because there really is no way to.  I like him up until he reveals his true plans to Anna ('cause that's when you find out he's bad, of course).  Other than that, I really, really liked him.  {Small note on Olaf, since I don't have much time left: he was the character I thought I wouldn't like, because he seemed really stupid in the trailers, but he turned out to be one of my favorites.  He brought a good dose of humour to what would have otherwise been a pretty deep, if not depressing, film}

The songs were all great and since this is going on Broadway, I can't wait to see what others will be added (I guess we shouldn't have been surprised when we saw this was going on Broadway, since there's about four Broadway stars voice-acting).  Now, I've always skipped 'In Summer' 'cause it's boring, and I also always skip (on the soundtrack and that) 'Fixer Upper' because, as Kristoff says, his troll friends are somewhat inappropriate.  I mean, there was technically nothing wrong with this song, but it's definitely my least favorite.  The soundtrack score is also good, although I find it a bit bland compared to my other favorite soundtracks (the first few instrumental tracks are good, and the rest just sort of sound the same as everything else).

Frozen Disney
Elsa's ice palace.
The animation is gorgeous.  Seriously, I would watch the film over and over just for the aesthetics.  The most beautiful sequence, in my opinion, is 'Let It Go'.  The creation of the ice palace is amazing (I know I'm using way too many superlatives...I can't help it :P) and Elsa's dress transformation...just wow (although I would have preferred no slit in the skirt - it was a bit much).  Since most of the film takes place in 'winter', the animators went to an ice hotel in Quebec (to see how light reflected off ice) and they also went somewhere-else-that-I-can't-remember to study how snow 'works with' people and objects.  It worked.  Everything looks incredibly authentic (for an animated movie, that is).  Also, the entire 'Let It Go' sequence took weeks to make.  Even a single frame took upwards of thirty hours.  Talk about dedication to your work :)

So, anyway...this post is extremely long and I don't want to make it any longer, so I'll sign off now.  Let me know your thoughts on this review and the film itself.



Miss Jane Bennet said...

YES. Just yes. Let me see, what can I say? I pretty much agree with all of this. =) I was shocked by the proposal, 'cause it was just, you know..."what if you don't like the way he eats?" :P
GAH. Her cloak IS gorgeous. Um...moving on...anyways. ;)
TOTALLY agree about Anna. (And Scandinavian/Swedish people do pronounce Anna like that, as does my family. For the longest time, I was really puzzled when anyone pronounced Anna the way it's "supposed" to be.)
That was a lovely description about Elsa! Totally agree there too...;)
Okay, I'll admit it: I did like Hans. His false identity, anyway. ;) And I thought Kristoff and Anna were really sweet together. BUT. Better than Eugene? I don't think I'd go *that* far...(and I asked my mom the same question about Charming as a name the other day! She pointed out that Charm is a name...ah, well.)
Olaf is so cuuuuuute! My siblings quote him all the time, now. (I'm not going to spend much time on him either, because my comment space is running out. ;))
Yep, yep, LOVE the songs and score (except for "Fixer-Upper"), and the animation. I didn't know that about the ice hotel! That's really, really cool. ( pun intended, sorry! XD) No wonder LIG looks so amazing!
Good grief, this comment just ran on and on, didn't it? I'll get off now...LOVE THIS MOVIE!! Great review, m'dear Elsa! :)

Anonymous said...

Where's the Like button???

Seriously, I loved this movie for SO many reasons - the chief of them being that they TOTALLY changed the Disney stereotype in soooo many ways.

Great review!!

Elizabethany said...

Yes! I so want to see this!

Lizzie said...

We didn't really "do" a lot of Disney either, but I loved Tangled so much, I was interested to see Frozen. Like you, I thought the trailer wasn't that great, but I knew the trailer for Tangled didn't give a good glimpse of the whole movie either. I really liked Frozen!

I love the Christian parallels that I saw in Elsa's character. We can't be the person we want to be on our own strength ("conceal, don't feel") and trying to is futile. But we also shouldn't embrace everything about who we are naturally, because some things do need to be changed and refined with God's help. Anna shows sacrificial love for Elsa, just like Jesus did for us. And love conquered "death."

I liked Olaf a lot more than I thought I would too! My sister and I were laughing hysterically over "In Summer" in the movie theater... trying to muffle our shrieks.

It was some incredible animation, too. I really enjoyed it. Good review! I'm so glad I found your blog!

If you're interested, I would like to nominate you for the Sunflower Blogger award tag... I know some people don't like doing tags, so if you'd rather not, that's fine, I won't be offended! If you do decide to participate, please drop the link to your post in the comment section of my post.

Eva said...

Thanks for your comment! I love getting long ones :) And, unfortunately, I don't do tags anymore, but thanks for nominating me. I really appreciate it.

Amy said...

I really loved Sven!

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