Monday, March 3, 2014

I watched "Frozen"!

[SPOILER-FREE "FROZEN" REVIEW] 
Ok, so Mom and I finally saw "Frozen" over the weekend. We also plan to see Mr. Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises", but that later.

First, if you're like me, Disney had begun to get on my nerves for several reasons: their lack of diverse character ethnicity, stereotypical ideas of gender roles, annoying sidekicks that you wanted to choke, and the nauseating musical scores that seemed to pop up at the most inopportune times.

For those that may not be in the know, "Frozen" is a loosely-based adaptation of Mr. Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" for a contemporary audience.

"Frozen" is the story of two sisters in Norway, Elsa (the Queen) and younger Anna (the princess). There are the prerequisite dire circumstances that bring about dire consequences, but, Disney has arrived, mature, sophisticated and worldly.

The characters act as real sisters: one was beautiful, demure, insecure and reserved, while the other was cute, socially awkward, self-deprecating and hyperactive. Yet, they resembled physically enough to look like siblings and had similar interests though they came about those interests in unique ways.

The songs were not the mind-numbing, noise pollution of old, the bane of many musical animations.
Each song in "Frozen" rose organically. "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" is the song that not only shows the emotional dynamics between the sisters, but, sets them up for a fall later.

Next are the men, Hans and Kristoff. Hans is a prince and the most well-developed character that no one expects in a Disney film.
Kristoff is an everyman, with his prerequisite animal companion, a reindeer named Sven (I don't think many of Disney's animals constitute as 'pets'. They've moved beyond to an almost symbiotic bond with their human counterparts).
Wait for the inside-joke Kristoff says when he introduces his reindeer companion.

Olaf is a snowman and the required 'Disney Sidekick' or 'schtick'. Don't hate him. Don't judge him. He is adorable, and amiable enough to the other characters, and Disney gave him the showmanship of the actors of old (Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland) and other stars from the 30s-50s. 

He sings and dances as if in a famous MGM Musical during that studio's golden age. The animators even make his lips quiver as he belts out part of his songs! Olaf wasn't annoying, he didn't screw up any plans, but was actually of help and meaning to all the cast. In his naivete', he still possessed wisdom.

"Frozen" is also PRETTY. It's just enough to make one reach towards the screen to touch someone's cheek. The snowscape becomes its own character in the film. The level of detail makes "Avatar" look like a 2-D animation. Sorry, this film was just pure SUGAR COATED EYE CANDY, and for Disney animators to have used such a limited palate of cool colors (blues, greens, whites, grays), this was an impressive feat of design indeed.

Also, I had mentioned on YT that there were so many references I picked up on, and I know it will be like reading a book again: you will see more that you missed the previous times.

Wait for Olaf's singing "In Summer". There is a reference to the "Coppertone" ads and the more obvious MGM musical feats.
Lastly is Anna singing "For the First Time In Forever", there are Disney versions of actual paintings in the palace ballroom. As an Art Major, I recognized a few. See if you can spot them.

And, did I mention the humor? The humor was mature and worldly. Wait for Kristoff's take on life and how he interacts with Sven. Wait for Anna's self-deprecation. Wait for Olaf. No juvenile fart-jokes to be heard here. Disney animations have FINALLY grown up. And they still retain their child-like qualities to be fun for everyone. Bravo Disney. Bravo "Frozen". You've restored my faith in your studio.

Oh, how can I NOT mention the pre-feature? Adorable. Cute! Also, please wait until the credits to see a little surprise at the end.

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