Frozen   Leave a comment

Following my long tradition of only being able to see movies when they’re no longer the fresh, exciting new releases that everyone loves, I was finally able to see the movie Frozen.  I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, and am already trying to figure out when I’ll have my next opportunity to watch it.  It’s hard to go into exactly why I enjoyed the movie without entering spoiler territory, but I’ll do my best.

Frozen has two “main characters”, sisters who are princesses in a kingdom in Europe’s far-north named Elsa and Anna.  Elsa isn’t the story’s chief protagonist, though the fans seem to have been drawn more to her than her sister.  A childhood accident forces them to lead mostly seperate lives in their family’s confined castle, and another accident takes their parents away leading to the fatefully inevitable day that Elsa becomes queen.  (As a side note, I appreciate a movie with a princess who actually gets to move on to being a queen, even if the circumstances are tragic ones.  Most movies with princesses just sort of keep them at that stage of royalty, sometimes even after they start ruling the land.)

The movie is a straightforward fairy-tale musical, but it manages to treat its characters realistically.  Case in point, the love-at-first-sight problem of many movies is toyed with, suggesting that most people in the world of the movie don’t accept the fact that someone might want to marry a person after just a few hours of getting to know them.  Other similar tropes of this kind of Disney film are explored, and ultimately represent some of the deeper choices that the characters make.  What constitutes an act of true love?  Teenage romance is a fine thing, yes, but isn’t life more complicated than that at times?

This movie is definitely different from the source material, and people who demand that Disney movies follow the original story will likely be upset.  I wasn’t, though.  For instance, I went into the movie expecting to firmly dislike the Snowman character shown in the trailers for the last year, but I didn’t.  In fact, I went beyond merely Not Disliking him, and moved into enjoying him as a character who didn’t overstay his welcome.

The musical numbers were handled a lot better than Tangled, which had songs that were fun but not the movie’s selling points.  I have a natural dislike for what I think of as “Radio Disney songs,” generally characterized as light-rock numbers with innofensive beats and a cheerful electric guitar.  Tangled used one of these as the introductory song for Rapunzel, and I made myself tolerate it at the time, even though the song wasn’t really bad so much as my personal preferences don’t generally include music of that sort.  Frozen had a song like this, and I rolled my eyes when it started, but… well, I thought it wasn’t bad ultimately, and it helped to underscore the nature of the budding romance between Anna and one of the tertiary characters, a prince from the Southern Isles.

One potential problem that people might have with the movie is that it asks people to accept the world’s form of magic pretty much right off the bat.  Most other Disney movies of this sort that features a heroine who wants more out of her life takes a while to build up to how, exaclty, the world’s magic will take part in the story.  Ariel takes a while to meet Ursula the Sea Witch, Belle doesn’t encounter magic outside of her books until she goes to rescue her father, and Snow White isn’t first attacked by magic so much as she’s chased/warned by a hunter to run away.  There are exceptions to this, of course; Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty has magic involved in her life pretty much right from the start, but she isn’t allowed to know about it.  In some ways, Frozen follows this pattern; the primary source of conflict in the story comes from knowledge of magic, who has it, and what can be done to protect someone from this knowledge.

Which leads to a secondary issue; we’re never really told what the consequences will be if knowledge of magic comes to light.  It’s implied to be dire, but the momentum of the story whisks by it, and opportunities to reference the issue again later aren’t taken.  Either the issue was brought up in a deleted scene, or resolving this question wasn’t doable without slowing down the movie’s spritely pace.  Ultimately, this is a minor problem while viewing the movie, but it does give me pause.

Ultimately, these problems didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie.  I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10, and that’s because I’m forcing myself to acknowledge its problems and not give it a 9.  If you can still find it in a movie theater, I do recommend giving it a shot.  If not, it’ll be hitting DVD shelves before too long.

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