Friday, November 8, 2013


I just saw the new Disney animated film "Frozen", directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and I wasn't impressed.  It's loosely taken from the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Snow Queen", but they forgot the story.  I was never really caught up in the characters or the plot.

The problem starts in the beginning of the film, when the youngest daughter of the King and Queen has an accident, brought about by her older sister, who somehow has magic powers with ice.  They're taken to the troll village, which looks suspiciously similar to the bear clearing from "Brave", and there the head troll mentions some kind of magic mumbo-jumbo that the two sisters can never meet until one becomes Queen.

This setup for the story is all based on these troll rules, that I never quite understood.  So, as the film progressed, all their motivations seemed foggy and confused.

Also, the two male suitors for the younger sister, Anna, seemed almost interchangeable, so I was never sure who I was watching.  That problem could easily have been fixed with better character design.

I did, however, enjoy the acting and animation of the two lead female characters, Anna and Elsa.  Their body movements and character designs were enchanting.

People have raved about the backgrounds and settings - however, when compared to the lovely settings of "Tangled" or "How to Train Your Dragon", they fall way short.

Another minus was the insipid music - straight out of Broadway show tunes.  They must now be organizing a lavish Broadway version of this.  But why can't they use more original music, something that's fresh and from the area?

Of course, as a Disney film you must go see it, but all in all, I can only give it a C+.


1 comment:

  1. Exactly the same impression I had my first (and only willing) viewing. Great critique.

    The world/setting feels like an afterthought thrown together for design theme and convenient storytelling. The music is just B-class Broadway show tunes. (And let's be real: Let It Go is the poor man's Defying Gravity.) And when the film first introduced Prince Hans and went into the 'Love is an Open Door' song I thought, "wait, is this a satire?" (too bad the film never went there--it would have made a better movie.) Instead we get an actually serious plotpoint that, in case you didn't know this already: you can't marry someone you just met. That's it. That's the premise and plot of this whole movie.

    As if little girls expect, along with our talking mice, glass slippers and magic lamps, to meet someone and marry him (and sometimes die for him) in a span of 3 days.

    Elsa deadpans this lesson and Anna actually argues against it? And...and that's the plot? The plot of the movie is "you can't marry someone you just met"(-- first you have to go on an adventure with them and then you have to have the approval of dancing singing trolls, and THEN it's ok.) Disney: I think little girls know this already. I think everyone knows this already. I think that's WHY we watch fairytales and eat-up the melodramatics of Romeo and Juliet. Ugh the film was so awful. And then Anna has to 'learn the hard way' that the lesson is true-- look at that you didn't really KNOW that guy you just met, turns out--he's a psychopathic, murderous despot! See kids! (But Christoff is fine, he has a trusty dog. I mean moose.) I was fuming in theaters, knowing this was about to hit pop culture and consume little girls for the next few years. A gimmicky, straw-man plot, a lesson no one needs to learn, a ridiculous inner conflict for each sister and for their parents-- I JUST CAN'T.

    And then the fact that people thought it was feminist just because it had two female leads...uhm, no. We can do better. We can do better than Brave. We can do better than The Princess and the Frog. Tangled hit the right mark with a quintessentially sweet and loving Disney princess who also happens to have thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions, and who also happens to make tough decisions, which will impact her and other's lives, on her own. I was so delighted by Tangled. And I've been so disappointed since.

    (Don't get me started on Brave. Long story short: Merida is a bratty, spoiled and terrible kid who happens to do SOME patriarchy challenging things like ... ride a horse...and...not like her clothes...and wanting to win her own hand (ok, that one works.) She makes POISONS her MOTHER, then cries and whines about it, and is ultimately saved by the love of her mother--not really by HER love for her mother. BLECHBLECHBLECH. DISNEY.)

    One more. Tiana. Ok ok, she was smart, creative, industrious, ambitious and independent. That's cool. She was also sour, tired/tiring, patronizing, and not all that interesting or memorable for a little girl to look up to. I would want to grow up to NOT be like Tiana. Jaded and overworked and sad. Compare to Cinderella, who never gave up hope, who continued to be sweet and kind. Yes, Tiana was a more modern, independent woman-- but why did her gentle, caring Disney 'princess'-like qualities have to get lost in the mix? Little girls can grow up and be modern independent women every day for the next 60 years. They'll never grow up and be Cinderella. And that's what makes Disney fairytales so wonderful to watch.