January 1, 2014

Shadowcon Mini-Views- Frozen

So, I just got back from seeing this, so all of this is going to be just first impressions (and lots of gushing). Spoilers if you haven't seen this (and you should see this), so be warned!

I went into this movie not knowing a lot about it. I had heard a couple of the songs and had heard good things about it, so I was optimistic, and my God, everyone who said that this movie was good was not kidding: this was excellent! Possibly the best made Disney film in a good long while (obviously excluding Pixar stuff), Frozen has so many little things that make it unique among other films of its kind, the first of those being the love story. This isn't a love story in the sense of romantic love; there is certainly a romance in here, but that's a part of Anna's character on her own and not the focus of the film's main plot. The love story here is familial love, sister love, and to take what could have been a romance story with an addition of this sister rivalry and turn it into a sister bonding and reconciliation/redemption story with this romance thing as a side-story was such a breath of fresh air! And I love that throughout the movie, the romance is played up almost in a mocking way, like the film is already aware of this trope and so plays with it as expected but in the end makes it so that it is Elsa, not Kristoff, who saves her sister out of love, and that was very nice to see.

The characters themselves are very real and three-dimensional. This is definitely a woman-empowering movie, which is great, especially with the twist love ending, that this is about saying "look, women don't have to always be involved with romantic love", and I think that's a message that isn't emphasized enough in media, and especially in Hollywood, even when films and TV shows are considered woman-empowering or they advocate for women in leading roles. Frozen did this so well in that it kept the romance as a secondary motive, and had it's primary motive be about acceptance and understanding of who you are. Elsa's character is really great, and Anna's character is independent without being "strong". She's a person, and having her femininity show itself first as a romantic vessel and then be playfully mocked for it by the rest of the characters was a great thing to see happen to her, and again the film surprised me by making the trope of romance and the female role in romantic films be realized as a trope by the characters and then be a focus but not the main focus of the movie; very real.

And that's just with the characters! The animation- holy shit! I don't think I've seen a more realistic depiction of ice in animation in a good long while! In the beginning when the ice miners were cutting up the ice into huge cubes and stuff, I was like "holy crap! This is ice! They just put animated people in a movie mining real ice!" I mean, it looked that good! And as the film went on and we saw all the different stuff Elsa did with her ice powers, the prettier it got. All the crystals and different types of ice and snow, all the textures and the way the ice acted, it was all very real looking. Impressive ice animation indeed, and I loved how versatile the ice was. It wasn't like Elsa did one thing with her powers; she was making snowflakes, gusts of snow, different shapes, different textures, all these things of ice that were all unique in both how they grew from her imagination and how they turned out once completed. The way the light reflected and refracted off the ice and water was really cool. It reminded me of some of the animation in Transformers Prime, but better because this was a movie. The animation was gorgeous, and really makes this movie memorable.

If I had one complain about the film, it would be the spontaneous revelation of the villain. It came a little too late, and the fact that Prince Hans was the villain all along seemed a little out of nowhere. He had been introduced as a good guy, presented throughout the film up until the point he turned evil as a good guy, and the film already had such a strong story with the relationship between Elsa and Anna that this just seemed kinda tacked on. Messing with expectations seemed to be this portion's main goal, and I get that (and having the villain be Hans instead of the Duke was admittedly surprising and a nice bit of script trickery), but if they had left this section of the script out, I don't think we would have missed much.

Besides that though, the film handles itself very well. It is well-paced, brilliantly animated, and the songs are memorable and catchy. This felt like a musical that just happened to be animated, a feeling often lost nowadays. I hadn't felt like this about a Disney movie since the Disney Renaissance Era. and a return to the animated musical style after so much of the "being a movie with songs in it" just put a smile on my face. Had I seen this in 2013, this would have totally been on my Top 10 Movies list, maybe even in my top five of that list; I missed it by one day! Go see this. It's still playing in theaters, and it is well worth your time!

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