Short version: I thought Frozen was terribly overrated. Much like Pixar’s Brave it simply did not live up to the hype that was created beforehand. And I really can’t see why everyone is so excited about Let It Go. (Okay. Those of you who are uninterested in my reasons for saying this may now go troll the comment thread. But please watch the video at then end of the post before you do.)
If you’re still here, just a polite warning that this review will contain some spoilers.
There were stuff I liked. The animation was superb, but what do you expect if we have the best creative minds of Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar thrown together? I mean, that scene where Elsa grew her own ice castle? Gave me chills, it did. The voice-acting was also excellent, as was the singing.
But the story left me cold. It felt like they were trying to stuff too much plot into too little time. They reduced a classic fairytale to typical sentimental Disney-fodder filled with plot holes and overly comic characters.
Speaking of the trolls (who were the bad guys in the original, by the way), the story would have worked fine without them. In fact, by scrapping the trolls a good fifteen minutes would have been scored which could have been used to do actual character development. The little character development that does happen in Elsa is sudden and erratic making her a difficult character to relate to. Anna, who I assume is supposed to be the main character (as she’s the one on a quest to find her sister and save the kingdom), has almost no character development, aside from realising, eventually, that prince charming actually isn’t.
Olaf the snowman was marvellous and his summer song was by far my favourite of the whole film (not that it contributed in any way to the plot but it’s such an irony overdose), but Sven the reindeer did not really do it for me and the relationship between Anna and Kristof did not nearly get the attention it deserved (or, even better, it should have been left out completely – it’s perfectly possible to make a princess movie with no romance at all).
I think I would have enjoyed the film more if I hadn’t seen Tangled as Frozen simply pales by comparison. Take the protagonists: a feisty girl with a comedian-chameleon sidekick who uses her hair like Indy uses a bullwhip and fights baddies with a frying pan when not doing sing-alongs with hairy barbarians, or a silly princess who keeps tripping in the snow and whose biggest achievement in the film is turning into a popsicle (Okay, so she does sacrifice herself for her sister by jumping in front of an approaching sword. I suppose that’s pretty badass, but it’s the only such moment in the entire film.)?
Or the antagonists: a centuries-old woman who kidnaps a baby in order to have eternal youth, raising the child in seclusion, and then blackmails the kid when she tries to run away with her new boyfriend, and ultimately murdering the boyfriend anyway, or a duke who seduced the main character with no effort at all before setting out to assassinate the queen because (I assume – by that point I had largely lost interest) he want’s to be king, but only spends a few minutes on-screen during the entire movie in any case? (Or was Elsa really the antagonist, plunging her kingdom into eternal winter and almost killing her sister (again) after losing control of her powers like Stephen King’s Carrie (credit for that comparison goes to Christy Lemire on rogerebert.com)?)
Maximus was much funnier than Sven (perhaps horses are just better actors than reindeer), and while Tangled’s songs stay in my head for weeks after watching the film, I can’t say I have that problem with any song from Frozen.
A few weeks ago Katie at Sass & Balderdash argued, at great risk to herself, that Let It Go is overrated. I want to commit potential internet suicide and say it is a terrible song. Musically it’s great. The melody starts small and builds to an overwhelming crescendo in the chorus that, once you’ve heard it, you can never forget.
But have you actually listened to the lyrics or considered the song’s context within the story? What exactly is liberating about locking yourself in an ice castle because people are afraid of your powers? Or about turning your back on your responsibilities? About abandoning your sister who, after the death of your parents, have no one but you left in the world?
The lyrics aren’t really about breaking free from fear and letting your emotions out. It’s about locking your emotions away, denying them, not showing them. That’s not freedom. That’s isolation. And while it’s all well and good to say I don’t care what others think of me, damn it, I still want others to care about me. Elsa, judging by this song, doesn’t. I don’t find the song inspirational. I find it deeply cynical and have to ask what on earth it’s doing in a children’s film.
Lastly there’s Elsa and Anna’s parents, who are responsible for the single biggest problem I have with the film, but I think I’ll let the guys over at How It Should Have Ended handle this one for me:
By now I’ve probably lost every one of my followers, but if there’s anyone still reading, allow me to point you to Jon Negroni’s blog where he shares the videos of the seven songs that did not make it into Frozen. Hopefully that will serve to redeem me in you eyes 😉