06 December, 2013

Movie Review: Frozen

Released: 27 November, 2013
Producer: Disney
Run Time: 108 minutes


I have always loved Disney movies, yes the ones with the Princesses, their lives, and how they got their happily ever afters. And every time a new one is released, I make a point to try and see it in theaters. Just because it's Disney and I'm somewhat of an addict.

There's just one thing you need to remember about Disney movies however, they are often highly inaccurate to the stories they're based off of and tend to gloss over the particularly disturbing parts of tales. Cinderella, for example, Disney doesn't show that the stepsisters cut off parts of their own feet to fit into the slipper or have their eyes pecked out by birds for their deception. Hercules fails to show that it was Juno (or Hera in the Greek mythology) who was trying to kill him out of jealousy of Zeus's infidelity. Sleeping Beauty was raped and had kids while she was asleep. The point is, Disney movies don't show the darker sides to fairy tales.

Frozen itself is based upon the Danish fairy tale The Snow Queen as written by Hans Christian Anderson, however beyond one of the title characters having the powers of ice and snow, the similarities tend to end there. Most of the elements of the original story are changed, leaving us with a very pretty, but highly inaccurate tale of two sisters who have been estranged after Elsa (a combination of Kay and the Snow Queen) accidentally strikes her sister in the head with her icy magic. 

The first ten minutes of the movie itself depict a very fast glimpse of what life was like after the accident, showing where Anna and Elsa's bond begins to break and deteriorate. Personally, I feel that the situation was handled poorly, from the visit to the Trolls, who changed the memories in Anna's head of her sister's powers to wintertime fun, to the parents (spoiler alert: they die in the first ten minutes of the film in true Disney style) who's decision to 'protect Elsa' includes discouraging her use of powers and causing her to become more and more afraid of who she is. 

Fast-forward to Elsa's coronation day since she's become of age (21, the first Disney Princess to not be a teenager and to be directly related to a second Disney Princess), where we meet Hans (spoiler: He's one of the bad guys) who Anna instantly falls head over heels for. In true Disney musical style, they share a duet and end up engaged to each other and seek out Elsa for her blessing. Elsa, believing Anna to be a fool for wanting to marry a man she's only know for a few hours, refuses to grant it, even telling Anna to leave if she's so unhappy in the shut-off life they've been living. A fight ensues and Elsa ends up showing off her powers when Anna rips off one of her gloves. 

Of course, this sets off a chain reaction of the guests calling Elsa a monster and she flees from town, setting off in her wake an eternal winter from the result of her inability to control her magic (because she was always taught to fear it, and if you fear your magic you can't control it obviously). An adventure then follows with Anna chasing after Elsa, leaving Hans in charge and she's quickly joined by Kristoff, a young man in the ice business. Joined by Olaf the talking Snowman and Sven the reindeer, Anna and Kristoff make the journey to Elsa's new home, a castle made completely of ice (from, you guessed it, her powers) only for Anna to meet an untimely fate of having her heart pieced through with ice. Prompt another adventure to go visit the trolls again, learn that only an act of true love will save you, and then attempt to get back to the fiancee you left in charge of your kingdom. It sounds easy right?

Sadly, I could see it from early in the movie that Hans was going to be some-kind of betrayer. I mean, he states early on that he's the youngest of 13 children to a King, that would make him the least likely to inherit the throne, especially if his elder siblings have married and have kids. Royal families tend to pass the crown to the eldest son (or sometimes daughter) and then to their children if there are any before they take the throne. Hans has already worked this out for himself, and realizes the only way he'll ever achieve becoming a rule is to marry into the throne of Arendelle (Anna and Elsa's kingdom). His ideal marriage, he notes when Anna asks how he could betray her, was to Elsa, but nobody was getting along there so he went for her, willing to feed her as many lies as necessary to win her hand in marriage and then to stage an 'accident' for Elsa to remove her from the throne. Due to Elsa being condemned for treason and murder (having supposedly killed Anna with that blast to the heart), they've done his job for them, meaning that once Anna freezes to death and Elsa's killed for treason, he'll have the throne to himself.

Anna manages to escape from the palace with help from Olaf, and she sets out to find Kristoff before she freezes over. However, before she can actually reach Kristoff, she sees Elsa about to be killed by Hans (who else could it have been I know). Anna, despite all the anger and hatred between them, sacrifices herself for Elsa, turning to ice in order to stop the sword that Hans is swinging to kill Elsa. This sacrifice, a sacrifice of true love, breaks the curse on Anna's heart therefore after a few heartbreaking moments of people crying, she's restored and Elsa finally realizes how to unfreeze the kingdom. Everyone in the end gets their happily ever after.

While I was impressed with the animation and the realization that True Love's Kiss isn't the only act of true love out there, I was unimpressed by the lack of females in the movie (almost 3/4 of the original story's characters are female). I was also sorely disappointed with Anna and Elsa's characters designs. They're just too generic, they look almost like clones, and to be honest, at the signs of promotional art back in March, I realized that Anna and Rapunzel look terribly similar. Perhaps it's just the downside of 3-D, CGI animation, but neither of our leading ladies in Frozen really stood out besides their hair colour and personalities. 

I also felt like the musical aspect of this movie had been overdone as well. In the first half-hour of the movie there are at least 4 of the major songs of the movie, all of which are dovetailing off of each other. The entire movie just felt a bit rushed, like they wanted to tell the story but failed to actually see the story for the pretty CGI effects they were throwing in. 

Overall, I feel this movie deserves the average rating of three stars. There was just a lot more potential that could have been and honestly, it didn't live up to the general hype about it. I wish the commercials for it would stop calling it the best Disney movie since The Lion King, it's not.

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