Saturday, January 18, 2014

Frozen Review

This probably goes without saying but this post is going to be riddled with spoilers. Like, you'll be lucky if I don't go through this thing scene by scene, line by line. Okay. maybe that is a slight exaggeration. But only slightly. I've only seen the movie twice, once to just sit there and cry and laugh, once to go in with a more critical eye and not get too swept up in the story. So, let us begin by discussing the characters.

Elsa ~ Elsa is what one could either call a co-protagonist or a sympathetic villain. Here's the thing, she's not given enough screentime or story to really be considered a protagonist but her actions don't exactly make her villainous. She's just kind of there as far as what she is goes. We see right from the beginning that she was born with magical powers that let her create and control snow and ice, and that people in the castle at least are accepting of it. Until she hurts Anna, then it's time to shut her away. At a very young age this character is led to believe that being different is wrong and something that needs to be hidden. Whether she hurt someone or not matters, but the overall theme for Elsa is to conceal, don't feel, don't let them in. Be the good girl you always have to be. And because she can't be, she has to be hidden away. As an adult she has developed this horribly high level of anxiety because she's afraid of herself and what she can do, and she's afraid of people finding out she's imperfect and different.

Anna ~ As the main protagonist of this movie, you can't find anyone more likable than Anna. She's definitely not your typical Disney Princess in that she's totally awkward, a bit of a dork, and tends to speak before she thinks more often than not. She's basically every character Kristen Bell (who voices her) has ever played but that's what makes her so relateable. In true Disney fashion she is a princess who longs for love, though not for the usual reasons. She wants someone to love and to love her because she is so lonely. When she was young she and her sister were best friends who spent all their time together and then, just like that, Elsa became a shut-in who all but ignored her existence. When their parents die it leaves her completely alone except for staff for three years. Heck yes, I'd be longing for a Prince Charming, too!

Kristoff ~ I don't know why but I'm kind of ambivalent about this character. He's an orphan who was raised by trolls, sells ice for a living, and is best friends with a reindeer he talks for. He's not a people person, either. So when he meets Anna and ends up helping her find Elsa his snarkasm is quite tainted by the fact that he hasn't had much socialization. But the banter is quite amusing and witty. He ends up falling for Anna of course, and is fairly one-dimensional until near the end when he rushes back to Arendelle to save Anna.

Hans ~ Oh this character. I hate this character because he deceived me! I really liked him until it turned out he was the villain. He's charming, also random, but it's clear he is a good leader and it seems he truly cares about taking care of the people of Arendelle. Anna leaves him in charge when she leaves to find Elsa and he slides into the leadership role perfectly. He could have had everything he wanted without the duplicitous-ness but no, he had to be an idiot and screw all that up. Jerk. I was rooting for you!

Olaf ~ The snowman who dreams of summer. Olaf is the quirky sidekick who also serves as a plot device, albeit a very small one that was handled poorly. He's constantly falling apart and, for me anyway, walks the fine line between being amusing and annoying.

The Good

Overall, I loved this movie. The music, the scenery. THE FEELS. Even before I saw it the first time I would listen to the music and cry. I relate to Elsa so much that it literally brings me to tears. The scene where she is pacing in her ice palace and everything is turning red because her anxiety is about to go out of control and make her powers act in accordance....ugh. I just can't. She's repeating to herself that she's got to get it together, to control it and I have so been there. Anna telling her earlier that what she's done is no big deal, that she can just fix it if she tries is so reminiscent of someone with depression or anxiety just being told to get over it and try to feel better. Unless you're afflicted with something you just don't know how disabling it is. I've felt that pain of both isolating myself and feeling like I've lost everything. So this movie gives me feels to the enth degree.

I loved that there was so much texture in every scene. You could almost feel how silky Anna's hair was, feel the gauzy texture of the sheer on Elsa's dress and cape, feel how light and weightless some of the snow was, how cold and unforgiving Elsa's shackles were. There were small subtle sparkles in the snow and a shimmer to Elsa's eye shadow. Pleats in Anna's dress that expanded and retracted like an accordion when Anna twirled. Just so many wonderful visual things. Not to even mention to music. Every song, every instrumental piece was gorgeous or funny or FEELS. There's just so much to love about this movie!

The Symmetry

I'm really glad I went to see this a second time because it allowed me to be a bit more critical and see things I didn't pick up on the first time. There's actually a lot of subtle symmetry in this movie that you don't notice first go around. Like, there are a lot of doors in this movie. Anna always knocking on Elsa's door, the first line of Anna and Hans' duet, the door they hide behind during the song, the song itself. Anna taking forever to knock on the door at the ice palace and then when she finally does, having it open for her which no door has ever done for her before. The gates slamming closed between them when Kristoff brings her back to Arendelle. The door being locked when she and Hans are talking and then again after. Just really good continuity.

I loved the symbolism of the gloves Elsa wore as well as the gloves Hans wore. Both characters wore gloves when they were hiding their true selves. Elsa finally took hers off when she felt free enough to let everything go, and Hans took one of his off when he began to reveal his dastardly plan to Anna. It's a small thing but one I appreciate so much as a writer.

Then there were character quirks that just made me squee. Elsa has a tendency to roll her eyes, bite her lip. Anna plays with her hands when she's nervous or scared, she awkwardly tucks her hair behind her ear. These are things people do in real life and I love that they throw that realism in there.

What They Missed

I was actually kind of surprised that there were as many moments of, "this could have been so much better if..." as there were. The big one for me though was character development. I know it was not even a two-hour long movie but make it two and a half and give us character development. Give us those shots of Elsa in her room each time Anna knocks so we see that Elsa is really struggling and hurting so much more than Anna knows. Yes, people love her and relate to her but that was such a missed opportunity for me. She had development but it wasn't enough. Same with Anna, though she really had almost no development as a character at all. No one really did. I didn't care about Kristoff because I knew nothing about him.

The moment Anna and Kristoff meet Olaf there is this moment where Anna realizes he's the very same snowman Elsa created when they were small and this scene bugs me the most. It was pretty much a, "I have had no memories of this crazy power my sister has or YOU up until this very moment but whatever, it's cool, let's keep going." Seriously? This was an important moment! We could have been given flashbacks of all those memories that were replaced by the trolls turning back into true memories. Anna could have given a little gasp, clutched the toggles on her cape and said with a wide-eyed expression, "I remember!" It was just such a flat moment for me.

Another one was when Kristoff told Anna he was going to take her to someone who could help her after her sister shot her through the heart. Anna asked, "Who? The love experts?" Kristoff said yes, Anna replied, "How do you know they can help?" At this moment he turns around to walk backward and answers, "I've seen them do it before."
Okay, great. Does that mean he remembers the trolls helping Anna when she was little or that he just remembers them helping some random kid? The screenwriter said on Twitter that Kristoff did know it was Anna and that was his moment of revelation, and my immediate thought was, "Wait. What?" Again, a moment that could have been made a bit deeper by Kristoff saying something like, "When I was a kid they helped this girl. I don't really remember much, but she had this white streak..." And then his eyes go wide and he hastens her along. Anna wouldn't have had to pick up on it but it would have let the audience know without a doubt that he remembered the whole thing and knew it was her.

In my happy dream world Anna and Hans would have ended up together. In my secondary, less happy dream world she could have ended up with Kristoff but Hans isn't a class A swine and is actually a pretty nice guy. He does his best to try and help Elsa once she's captured and they end up falling for each other. It's that sniveling twit from Weaselton who send his men to try and kill Elsa in the end and it can all be wrapped up the same way it did in the actual movie. Anna can still save her and it could still be the true love of her sister to save her. But then both sisters would have found romantic love as well. Because I like that, okay?

Last thing, and this is just nit-picky. I kind of wish they had given Elsa one final costume, something that merged her ice dress with her Arendelle style. After all, the palace itself was a mixture of both, why not the clothes she wore? She was merging her two lives, wasn't she?

Also, how can you have Jonathan Groff in your cast and give him one measly tiny barely-a-song song? How is that even possible?

Wow, that was long. Despite my issues with parts of the movie I truly did love it and would not hesitate to see it again and again.

And cry each time.


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