Sunday, December 1, 2013

Frozen Review

"One of the best Disney animated films since Beauty and the Beast." - IGN

A quote like that does not get throw around often. Comparing Frozen, the latest Disney animated movie, to one of the best children's movies EVER is not a phrase that you throw around lightly. By comparison, this is better than Princess and the Frog. This is better than Aladdin. Hell, this is better than The Lion King. IS it true? Does Frozen live up to those expectations? While I'm just going to be upfront and say that it's not as good as BATB, it's certainly the best Disney movie in a long, long time. 

It's hard to say exactly what makes Frozen such an enjoyable movie really. At its core, it's a movie about two sisters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa has the power to control ice, and after an accident that almost kills Anna when they were children, Elsa grew up locked away from everyone from her own choosing, afraid that she'll hurt anyone else and that they'll perceive her as a monster for having such a dangerous power. Anna however, wants nothing more than to be with her sister and explore the outside world, which completely contrasts with Elsa's introverted personality. It's two polar opposites, but instead of them being antagonistic to each other, they both are still sisters and Anna wants nothing more than to just be with her sister and get along like they used to. However, the people of the kingdom discovers Elsa's powers, she runs away, turning the entire kingdom into an icy wasteland, and it's up to Anna to find her sister and reconcile with her. 

Well there you ave it; best Disney princess since... anyone really.
The funny thing is, that doesn't sound like a traditional Disney plot. Usually there's an antagonist in movies like this, and in all honesty Elsa should be the villain. She has the perfect back story and reasons to be evil, but she isn't. Instead she's afraid of what she's capable of and feels remorse for her actions. When she injures Anna when they're children, it completely destroys her and has her go into withdrawal, opting to cut herself away from the world instead of face it. She's an actually Disney princess with depth, and while I do appreciate Disney being much more proactive with their princesses like Tiana and Merida, Elsa is the first Disney princess that fascinates me as a character, and not because she's one of the main characters. 

Anna though doesn't get as much development as Elsa, but her personality stays the same for the majority of the movie. She wants to help her sister, while at at the same time, she wants to be free and lead her own life instead of being locked in a castle all day. She's the more traditional Disney princess, but even that's okay because of the relationship between her and Elsa. Yes they're princesses, but they're sisters first. Once the beginning was done and Anna was on her adventure, I never thought of her as a princess (except for when one character, Kristoff, berates Anna for falling in love and becoming engaged to a prince after knowing him for less then a day). 

It's that central relationship that drives the movie, and I was enthralled by it. Will they make up and have a happy ending? Will Elsa become a villain and have to fight her sister? Or will they go their own separate ways and lead their own lives, one as an extrovert and the other as an introvert. You may be saying "It's a Disney movie! Of course we know how it's going to end!" To that I say, that's what makes this movie so good. When it comes to Disney movies, you know exactly how they're going to end, but this is the one movie where that formula gets throw for a major loop in the second half. With one line, my perception of the movie was turned completely upside down in what will go down as one of the best moments of 2013. 

Why yes! Elsa does have a palace! She also has crippling social anxiety
and a fear that she's won't be able to control her powers and be perceived
as a terrifying monster by the world, but she does have a palace!
I actually can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm glad that this movie was done with 3D animation over 2D hand drawn animation. I know that may sound like a travesty to some, but in here, I can't imagine what the movie would look like in 2D. Some sequences, like during Elsa's powerful song "Let It Go", looked fantastic, and even little scenes like when Anna stops by a shop in the snow work really well with 3D animation. Not only that, but the movie just looks gorgeous as a whole. I'm a sucker for ice and snow imagery, so seeing beautiful palaces made of ice and fields of snow in the morning sun just look incredible to me. I'm sure it would look just as good with hand drawn animation, but this is one of a few times where 3D animation is the better option. 

But it can't be a Disney movie for kids without musical numbers, and this may be the one part of the film I can draw some criticism at. Whiel I do think that several songs are fantastic, my personal favorites being "Let It Go", where Elsa says that she's now comfortable with who she is and will embrace her powers, and "Do You Want To Build a Snowman", a rather melancholy song that Anna sings as she's growing older to try and convince Elsa to come out of her room and being the big sister that Anna needs. Snowman is actually my favorite song in the movie, mostly because of how kind it is, yet how tragic it is that Elsa just can't be reached and that Anna's efforts are futile in persuading her sister to come out. That being said, the rest of the numbers are very underwhelming. 

Chalk this up to heightened expectations, but when directly comparing Frozen to classic Disney musicals, that also means having a great soundtrack as well. Besides those two songs, the rest of the songs are rather short, with only one or two lasting over 3 minutes. Even the big group number isn't all that great, lasting only a short amount of time and not being all that visually interesting. "Prince Ali", "Be Our Guest", and even "Make a Man Out of You" are far superior than the big group number in this movie. Plus, the majority of the songs are done in the first half hour of the movie, leaving the rest of the movie to focus on the plot and the relationship between the two princesses. I do think that it was a good call focusing on the princesses during the second half of the film, but it left that part desolate of songs, instead opting to only have two in that entire time frame, which is a solid 45 minutes.

Olaf is voiced by Josh Gad. I'll gladly take Olaf's head here!
But besides a lopsided proportions of songs, I can't really fault this movie. Maybe the climax could use a bit more action to it, and maybe having another comedic scene would be great, but I can't think of anything that could make this movie better. It's refreshing to see a movie musical that harkens back to a more classic style of Disney movies, and I know it's something that I won't be seeing anytime soon. With Disney looking on adapting Big Hero 6 for it's next animated film, it could be a long time until we see another Disney movie like this. Personally, if we didn't have another Disney movie like Frozen for the next three years, I'd be fine with it. We got such a good movie with this that I'll gladly wait that long if the final product will be as good as this. 

It's tough to call, but I give Frozen a very well deserved 4 fan made Elsa pictures out of 5
Nothing beats a good winter movie.

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