Frozen

I started this blog so I could call attention to lesser known or obscure things that I enjoyed, so I try to avoid doing reviews of things which are obviously popular unless I have bitching to do.  Winning Oscars is kind of a good clue that something is popular… but at the same time I have been utterly obsessed with Frozen since I watched it and I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack.  I can’t even explain why I enjoyed it so much.  I grew up on Disney musicals (I have a Disney soundtrack collection.  Shut up.  It’s probably why I have such good scores in Rock Band so it’s not like it hasn’t paid off!  If only there was a Disney Rock Band edition…).  Frozen just struck a nostalgia chord that nothing else has done in the past 5-10 years.  It could be related to the fact that they apparently started writing this movie in fucking 1990 so it literally is a “Disney renaissance” classic, but as far as I can tell it’s gone through about 80,000 revisions since then and in no way resembles their original scripts, so who knows.

I could even nitpick the fuck out of bits of it because you know what, it wasn’t even that good.  There were story plotholes, character plotholes… if you dig into it it’s really obvious they re-wrote the story eight times.  But it was so good.  I am completely incapable of being coherent right now and that’s okay because I am blissfully happy.

I briefly considered addressing the conspiracy theories surrounding the themes underlying the film but you know what, it’s not even worth it.  From the Lion King spelling “sex” in dust clouds (OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN) to The Little Mermaid apparently being a metaphor for transgender issues, someone will make a fuss about something.  It’s like Life of Pi with probably significantly less intention in its potential interpretations.  It’s a fucking awesome movie no matter how you choose to interpret it, for so many reasons.

The characters are amazing.  The subversions of tropes are amazing.  The CGI is amazing (holy shit the snow).  This movie is amazing.

I wish the collectors edition had like cool figurines and shit.  I would so buy it.  Lithographs??! meh.  Maybe for the obvious-cash-in 3D edition they release later…

Alright, I still love this movie but I feel like I should weigh in on some common criticisms about the writing.  Because I agree with them, and nagging about the ways writing could have been improved is kind of my thing.  Like I said before, it’s really obvious this movie has been written and re-written for several decades.  There are huge holes in the plot and a lot of un-answered questions that would have really solidified the movie if they were addressed.  I also feel like the whole approach of the movie could have been so much better which is really a shame because it came out THIS GOOD with a shaky writing foundation, so imagine if it had a rock solid approach?

Spoilers forthcoming, I guess…

It’s not explained where the powers come from.  There are some mysterious lines about curses but it’s hastily explained that she is not cursed, it’s her natural state (but is what Anna goes through later what they mean by curse?  it’s unclear).  It wouldn’t take much exposition here to really deepen the background.  And if you’re not going to, why include those lines at all?

Other than that, I felt the opening sequences were a good setup.  Elsa is totally in control of her powers when she’s happy and confident as a child, and it shows.  Then things get a little uncertain and oops, a childish accident occurs.  Shit hits the fan, the parents flip, and hello plot: Elsa needs to learn to control the powers before something major happens.  Which is where the parents do the dumbest thing possible and control it by making her terrified of it.  Despite, y’know, the warnings that fear will cause loss of control.  I still think this is fine as part of the plot – despite being an obvious mistake, the parents have a perfectly human and paranoid reaction, which sets up the powers as something terrifying and misunderstood. Maybe there could be a little bit of exposition here where the parents describe their plans for the future (that they’re not letting Elsa in on just yet) proving that they do in fact have a plan to help her through this but they’re muddling it up a bit (or maybe they get good advice overseas?), and then oops with the ship and so much for that.  Elsa is left on her own with no guidance and it’s even more tragic for knowing the parent’s actual (presumably good) intentions.  I can understand not wanting to pad the movie with too much setup that goes nowhere, though.  (Of course you could also cut the god damn trolls from the movie to make up the time, and it would be even better for it)

The part that’s not good is the way the isolation is handled.  The lack of exposition in the years where the two princesses are growing up really leaves things a bit flat.

First of all: Why was Anna’s memory wiped?  This makes no sense, has almost no bearing on the plot aside from Anna being confused about Elsa’s distancing herself, and could have been handled a myriad of ways that were better.  I think this is a victim of re-writing, like having her remember it would have been a major thing that caused the curse to return (which makes Elsa hiding make even MORE sense because any little hint of ice could set off a memory), but then that was scrapped but the memory wipe remained.  I assumed her finding out about the powers would have some repercussions w/re the memory wipe, but then… nothing.  It was just her finding out for the “first” time, like everyone else.

Second: Anna clearly remembers being very close to her sister, but there’s almost no time spent building that relationship first.  For a movie that’s almost entirely based on the concept of sisterly love, it would have been a much better choice to lay some foundations here.  Then the audience can be just as heartbroken as Anna when Elsa withdraws, and perhaps we could spend a little time watching Elsa wrestle with her decision to keep Anna safe by staying away.  And we could also silence some critics by watching Elsa fumble to learn to run the kingdom while also keeping Anna at a distance.

Most of the middle works for me.  The reveal of her powers has a plausible set-up and I like the subversion of expectations with Hans. And as an aside, I really love how they subverted the Disney Song formula for this movie.  You’re expecting at minimum an intro song, a protagonist set-up song, a romance song, and a villain song… and you get all of them but they’re not the ones you expect them to be.  Although I’ve read some interviews where they were like “We listened to Let It Go and realized it sounded too optimistic for a villain so we made her not evil” so I’m not sure how much of it was really by design or by happenstance.  “Love is an Open Door” makes an absolutely wonderfully unexpected villain song though.  It’s such a typical “we’re falling in love now” Disney song, and then you realize the lyrics actually have double meanings and oh hey this is the villain song.

Then the ending.  This is where it really shows that they did no set-up work with the curse.  I loved the subversion present in the “act of true love”, and it would be nice if, when the dust settles, it were a little clearer that it was Anna who actually needed to perform the act, not have it performed on her, but there’s something to be said for showing and not telling too. Ironically, they still have characters wander in from stage left and go “OH NOW I GET IT” without even actually explaining those details.

But what bothers me about the ending is Elsa.  She literally goes “Of course!  Love!” and then has 100% control.  No.  No.  This… no.  This does not work.  I know love is the all-powerful “force” of fairy tales but come the fuck on.  Explain this shit.  Is it love that counteracts fear to keep it in check?  I’d even be content with her sort of shakily realizing she can make the ice subside with the support of her sister/friends/family/kingdom, gradually gaining more control and confidence as the minutes progress.  It wouldn’t even need explanation then, it would literally be showing instead of telling.

Okay so, I guess to summarize, my suggestions are:

More exposition in the beginning to fill in the gaps about where the curse came from and the parent’s plans to deal with it, as well as how those plans all fall flat when the shipwreck happens.  More exposition on the relationship between the two sisters.

The memory wipe should have played more of  a role.  Anna remembering the powers would bring back the curse.  Elsa’s reveal during the ceremony jogs Anna’s memory and sets off the curse again, and Elsa flees out of guilt (and the hope that the curse will subside if she leaves).
But it doesn’t, of course, so Anna heads up the mountain as the curse slowly spreads through her.
Yadda yadda yadda this is all about the same… until the end when Anna finally breaks the curse, revealing she had to perform the act herself.  They rally around Elsa and help her get the storm under control, because hey even if you fuck up and zap someone in the heart again we can totally control this together, see?  THEN we can have a time jump where she’s all confident and making skating rinks and shit.

NO TROLLS.  ESPECIALLY NOT SINGING TROLLS.

Feel free to send a letter confirming my employment at any time, Disney.

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About tagracat
I am not a professional, I don't get paid to review shit, I am just opinionated and I seem to have some sort of disorder that results in spewing my opinions onto the internet. I enjoy writing long-winded posts about things and sometimes I like to pretend people want to read them, so a blog seemed an appropriate place to stuff it. But mostly I just like writing about things.

One Response to Frozen

  1. I watched this too, quite like it too, I don’t want too many Disney animation, but the one I watched before Frozen was Tangled. And I watched Tangled like 6 times, not by myself of course, with different friends at different time, so I know the music for Tangle quite well.

    One thing that struck me was the song “In the first time in forever”, I knew it sounded something similar to Tangle. So after I left the cinema and back home, I played every song and found out it was “I see the light”, the bit where they sing “And at last I see the light” then tune is very similar to “For the first time in forever”.

    As for the story, its not bad at all, but for some reason I don’t feel excited at all, not even at the very end when “The act of true love”. But the whole storyline is very good I agree, i Love the bit where Elsa said “You can’t just marry anyone you just met”

    I don’t know why I am comparing this with Tangle, probably because it was my favorite. I shed a (bucket of) tear when Rapunzel lost her long magical powered hair and still trying to save Flynn.

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