Frozen – Film Review
I was pretty rough on Merida from Brave. Because that bratty dipshit deserved it.
Let’s hope these ladies can do better.
TL;DR Frozen is abundant with the typical Disney whimsy and polish. The music is delightful, the characters are just deep enough to transcend caricature, and yes, it’s “progressive.” The only thing missing was a despicable, defined villain. Does the weather count? 3 out of 5 stars.
I don’t know whether it would.
The plot begins as a mostly simple affair. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina “I’ll do anything but Glee again. Please” Menzel) are orphaned princesses to a remote, Scandinavian-esque country. When they were little, Elsa’s innate ice magic abilities hurt Anna, so Anna’s mind was purged of all memory of it, and Elsa became a recluse to avoid her emotions causing her powers to ever be seen again. This is all well and good until Elsa has to be coronated as the new queen, and Anna accidentally causes her powers to be revealed. Elsa flees to the mountaintops and unintentionally plunges the country into a hellish winter, so it’s up to Anna to go find her and sort this shit out. Along the way she meets Kristoff (Jonathan “I don’t need Glee anymore. I’m on HBO” Groff), an ice farmer (terminology?) who helps/falls in love with her. Yada yada yada, Elsa accidentally freezes Anna’s heart, and the country’s remaining officials (including Hans, another love interest of Anna’s) go after her. Anna’s heart can only be cured by an act of true love. Instead of a played-out true love’s kiss, the act turns out to be Anna protecting Elsa from the homicidal blade of a revealed-to-be-evil Hans. Anna is cured, Elsa’s faith in humanity is restored, and everything is well in Arendelle.
There’s also a talking snowman.
I don’t want to spend the whole review comparing Frozen to Brave, but Frozen handled a female hero/female perspective story much better. Merida was a spoiled, idiotic, impotent, selfish jerk who caused all her own problems, then tried to eschew responsibility for them, then was ultimately saved by circumstance.
Anna, on the other hand, accepts her responsibility in causing her problems, makes an active plan to address them, and doggedly pushes on in spite of setbacks.
And of course, the story is really about 2 sisters, with the romance angle getting enough screentime, but not becoming a malignant plot tumour.
Why I hate this movie:
Obviously, the real issue is our missing villain. Disney movies thrive off of having fabulous, evil villains. What good would the Lion King have been without Jeremy Irons’ mintzy Scar? Or High School Musical without the amnesiac Sharpay Evans? Frozen gives us Elsa, who is mostly just an obstacle, and later, a hero. Then there’s the nosy Duke, who does nothing except send some ineffective assassins after Elsa one time. And the eventual frontrunner, Hans. He’s only revealed late into the 11th hour and is completely incompetent at achieving anything truly evil.
He actually spends all of the movie up until the villainous reveal being very, very good and helpful. Even when Anna isn’t around. He needed more moustache twirling. And a moustache.
What really makes the villain diffusion frustrating is that we don’t get a soaring villain song. Let It Go would technically qualify, but it’s more “empowering” than it is “I am pure evil and will sing about how purely evil I am.” Can you imagine High School Musical 3 without I Want It All? What kind of world would that be to live in?
Anna and Elsa’s formative years are glossed over with a song, but did Elsa spend years and years of her life never leaving her room? How often did they actually see each other? I understand we’re supposed to just accept this and move on, but when the movie was over, I was still wondering about it.
The horse (or in this case, reindeer) acting like a dog thing was already done in Tangled. It’s cute, but it’s repetitive.
The scope of the story is pretty narrow. Arendelle just gets, like, chilly for a little bit. There’s no real peril to the world.
And of course, the power of love is what Elsa needs to use her powers for good. Not that I’m surprised.
Elsa doesn’t want to hurt Anna, so she throws her out of the palace using a snow golem. The snow golem then, when angered, proceeds to try and murder Anna and Kristoff. Nice work, Elsa.
Oh, and Anna leaves Hans in charge of Arendelle while she’s off chasing Elsa. She has known him for less than 24 hours and he’s not even from Arendelle, and she leaves him to govern the country. Is there seriously no other native politicians who could step in? Who’s been running the country for the 3 years between their parents’ deaths and Elsa’s coronation?
But it’s not all bad:
If a movie about 2 sisters trying to overcome their relationship struggles and culminating in an expression of true love while the male love interests complement things isn’t enough to satisfy the rabid feminists, nothing will be.
Anna actually overcomes her initial naivete with love that she displays with her instant engagment to Hans. Her relationship with Kristoff develops much more naturally. He even respects the fact that she’s in a relationship. And of course, the truly great thing about their romance, is that it doesn’t become the entire point of the movie. After everything is finished, it’s clear that they’re going to be together. But the romance remains a subplot, which is what it needed to be.
The singing is carried off well. Idina Menzel is the belter we know her to be, and does a great job. Kristen Bell sings sweetly enough for the parts she’s given.
Also, Kristen Bell is my girl, you know?
Olaf the snowman is surprisingly not grating as the comic relief. He gets his own subplot where he dreams of seeing summer, oblivious to the fact that it would melt and kill him. His unfiltered generosity and honesty lead Anna to the realisation that Kristoff is in love with her. And Elsa rewards his heroism by giving him his own little pocket of winter so he can enjoy the summer and not melt to death.
The animation is expectedly perfect. As per Disney standards.
Let It Go is wonderful. Natch.
Sven the reindeer is cute.
Kristoff was raised by rock trolls, and they sing a song about how both Kristoff and Anna are “fixer-uppers.” Equality.
They’re also shippers on deck for Kristoff/Anna.
Oh, and Anna, under the impression that Kristoff’s kiss will cure her of her rapidly approaching death, chooses to save Elsa rather than get her kiss of life. It’s selfless and practical. A slight whiff of martyrdom, but I’ll forgive her. It is Veronica Mars, after all.
Frozen is undeniably charming and magical. If it had existed for no other reason than to have Let It Go and Kristen Bell in it, that would have been enough. Luckily, it had even more. Could have used an Ursula, though. 3 out of 5 stars.