Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Frozen

Frozen - screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)

Disney's latest animated film! Nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

Spoilery thoughts behind the link.

A story of two sisters. Close as sisters can be until the elder (Elsa) accidentally hurts the younger (Anna) with her magic. Elsa then keeps herself apart from Anna out of fear of harming her again, even when their parents pass away and the girls are left completely alone. The parents' fear, and later Elsa's fear, drives them to keep themselves completely isolated from the rest of the world. When Elsa comes of age, the castle has to be opened to the world for her coronation. Anna goes people-crazy and immediately runs into the town, where she goes boy-crazy over the first guy she meets. Elsa's secret magic is revealed during the coronation and she flees to the hills to live alone forever, accidentally freezing the entire kingdom in the process. Anna goes to find her, and Elsa accidentally fatally wounds her sister in the manner she's been fearing most of her life. Anna's prince turns out to be a sociopathic homicidal power monger, and in the end the love of the two sisters for each other prevails and saves everyone, including the kingdom.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. It's a really nice Disney movie. It has a silly snowman, a silly dog-like reindeer, and even the Snow Monster is silly and cute by the end. It was a lot of fun to watch, and the music was nice. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are spectacular, of course.

My cynical side says, WOW, Disney is trying REALLY hard to undo their bad public image, with their many many princess movies that have given little girls far less than ideal role models. At times, it seemed a bit forced - almost like they were trying too hard. Anna falls head over heels for the first prince she meets, as usually happens in Disney movies. Instead of happily ever after, everyone makes fun of her for being so silly and for wanting to marry a man she's known for less than a day, and in the end, the prince is quite the nasty villain. True love is the only thing that can save Anna at the end, and everyone assumes it's True Love's Kiss, the Most Powerful Thing in the World, but at the last second she chooses instead to sacrifice herself for her sister and we see what True Love is really all about - and it's not about a kiss from some man you barely know. Don't get me wrong. This is GOOD. I'm really glad to see Disney changing up its tropes and trying to be more responsible.

Time will tell whether it's working. I am absolutely delighted by what I've been seeing on Facebook. My friends who have little girls report that their daughters watch this movie obsessively. They love, love, love it. So, hopefully they are internalizing better messages than the earlier Princess movies teach.

All that said - it is still flawed. I think How It Should Have Ended says it best. [ETA: Here's the link that works: they had to change the ending and re-upload since they were getting flak about using Let It Go at the end. How was that not fair use??]

Much as I enjoyed the movie, and am very happy to see Disney moving their Princesses in a different direction, and am excited to see so many little girls smitten with this movie.... I'm not quite sure how I feel about its place on my Hugo ballot. I'll have to think about that some more.

Bechdel Test: Pass

Up or down ballot (note for myself): The jury is still out.

3 comments:

  1. What causes the indecision? The quality of the story or the suitability of it? Something else?

    Reportedly, Disney really struggled with this movie. Originally, Elsa was the villain. Several rewrites later, they made her into more of a person.

    Also, reportedly, the parents' shipwrecked boat is the boat Ariel finds in The Little Mermaid, and they were shipwrecked trying to attend the wedding in Rapunzel.

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  2. I saw that about the ties-in with the other two movies! That entertained me a LOT!

    I saw that in the deleted scenes - Disney's changing its original idea for Elsa. I'm really glad they made the changes they did. I don't think it would have been as powerful and different a movie if they'd just gone with Evil Villain Magic Female Relative.

    The cause of the indecision. I don't really have words for it yet. I'm working on that. I'll want to find the words before I make a decision. Part of it is that there seem to be more and more Disney or Disney-like things popping up as I make my way through the ballots, and it's annoying me. I'm not sure why. Faerie tales are unarguably fantasy. I enjoy a good Disney (or Disney-like) story. I prefer my sf not be dark and horrible - and these stories mostly are just the opposite, which I usually like. But still, each of these that I hit reading/watching through the ballot, I have a reaction of "Gah, why is this on my ballot?" I don't know what's going on there. The suitability of the story is the issue, I think. But why? ..... Still processing. :)

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  3. I keep forgetting that Disney is also working on reversing its stance on Stepmothers. I keep remembering the Evil Stepmother from Enchanted, and then I see the movie again, and I'm all OH YEAH!! and happy. :)

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