[Movie] Frozen, I feel guilty for not liking you more 13

So…Frozen.

Full disclosure: I’m one of only a handful of human beings who hasn’t seen Rapunzel sorry I mean Tangled haha that’s right these movies totally aren’t about women. At all. Anyway, I haven’t seen that movie. I keep meaning to, and then don’t get around to it.

I’m honestly not sure if Frozen makes me want to give Tangled a chance or not. I have really, really mixed feelings about this movie.

So, spoilers coming if you care about those.

The movie tries to fake you out twice. One of those times is very successful. The other one flat pissed me off.

The good fake out had to do with how true love was treated in the movie. About halfway through-ish, Anna gets hit with her sister’s magic and escapes. It’s apparently going to kill her. The random trolls (more on this later) inform Anna and Kristoff that the only thing that will thaw a frozen heart is an act of true love. Immediately, pretty much everyone jumps on the idea of true love being romantic, and a kiss from Anna’s supposed true love Hans. This caused me to write some very cranky notes, up until the big gotcha right at the end—where the act of true love is actually Anna choosing to sacrifice herself to save Elsa’s life. That’s right. The act of true love was about the bond between sisters.

Okay, that? Was awesome. And unexpected. Well played, Disney, well played. It’s so unusual to see the power of familial love (or love between friends) being shown as equal to or even greater than romantic love.

The bad fake out was the entire thing with Hans. At the beginning of the movie, Anna meets Hans, and they do the love at first sight thing and have a song about it even. When Anna runs off to try to find Elsa, she leaves Hans in charge, and he seems to be doing a pretty good job watching the store, so to speak. Then when it looks like Anna is lost, he leads a party to go looking for her, and ends up at Elsa’s ice castle—where he saves her life. Add all of this up, and when he suddenly does the Oh hey I’ve been a villain all along reveal when Anna tries to get him to kiss her, it makes no fucking sense.

Normally if someone’s going to be the evil traitor/hidden villain sort, movies will give narrative clues that they’re the bad guy—because the audience likes to know things the characters don’t, if nothing else. (Just as when you have a character who seems villainous but actually isn’t, they normally get a “save the cat” moment early on just to clue us in that they’re actually okay.) Now, we could get into narrative arguments over how much more sophisticated it is to not use devices like that, but let’s remember that this is a kid’s movie, to begin with. And the very fact that Hans acts to save Elsa makes no fucking sense in light of him being a villain. He could have pretended to be just a little too slow to save her, let her get killed, and then problem solved. The entire concept of his villainy is out of left field and nonsensical. It honestly felt like the writers got to the end, realized that they needed a bad guy from whom Anna could save Elsa, and picked him.

And it was also just unnecessary. Anna could have saved Elsa from nearly any other hazard at that point and the story would have worked just fine. And let’s consider the bravery of a story that’s told where there’s no actually villain except for prejudices, misunderstanding, and insecurities. The way Frozen was set up, they really could have done that, and I don’t think it would have lessened the tension at all.

The whole weird sudden turnaround of Hans honestly went along with the other major issue the film had, which was that its pacing was really uneven. The first act really stretches out (there is a lot of necessary backstory, but still) but then the jump into the second act is incredibly abrupt, between Anna deciding within five seconds that she had to ride off and find Elsa immediately and that she was going to leave the guy she just met in charge, and Elsa being like screw it I’m the snow queen I don’t even need a line of dialog before launching into my big song. And then there are the magical MacGuffin trolls, who are conveniently present twice when Anna gets hurt and conspicuously absent at all other times. They live in a technicolor plant-filled valley that seems entirely disconnected from the rest of the world of the film, and even moreso when it’s magical winter everywhere else…but inexplicably not for the trolls. Their presence was another disjointed plot point an already bumpy ride.

I almost didn’t see the movie because the publicity campaign was so terrible—you know, where you basically get the snowman and reindeer show and then oh maybe there’s these two chicks in it? Yeah, if the trailers had been about the sisters, I would have seen it of my own volition.

Though funny enough, I didn’t find Olaf all that annoying, and I thought I would. (I actually found Anna to be the most annoying character, another thing that prevents me from really wanting to see the movie again.) His perverse yet innocent death wish sustained me through the more frustrating moments of Frozen. Olaf sings my favorite song out of the entire film. And there are a lot of songs…and I think most of them are good? Though I admit I was disappointed, going from the beautiful opening credit song Vuelie to much more standard Broadway-style fare. So another point in its favor if you like musicals, because that was definitely the feel it had going.

Between the pacing problems and the thing with Hans, I can’t quite muster up enthusiastic squeeing for Frozen. Which is a shame, because the thing with the sisters is amazing—I really appreciate it, I just can’t say I want to go watch the movie again. In a way, I actually feel quite guilty for not liking the movie, because it did have women in the lead, a story about sisterly love, etc–all things I feel I ought to appreciate. But I just didn’t connect with it, I didn’t get in to some of the characters, and the narrative just really frustrated me in places.

Anyway, it was fun, and if you’re in to animated movies you should definitely see it.

13 thoughts on “[Movie] Frozen, I feel guilty for not liking you more

  1. Reply Kathryn Ohnaka Dec 18,2013 13:58

    I haven’t seen Frozen yet, but you should definitely see Tangled. It the one I always pick when Mina makes me watch a Disney movie.

    • Reply Rachael Dec 18,2013 14:01

      It’s in netflix right? And when you do see Frozen, let me know what you think. I’m wondering if part of my problem is that my Disney movie tolerance is just way too low these days since I don’t have a kid keeping it strong. ;)

      • Reply Kathryn Ohnaka Dec 18,2013 23:04

        I think it is on Netflix. And that may be part of it, as well as Disney movies haven’t been all that spectacular lately. Tangled was at least quite funny, and I really liked the “prince”–one of the few who has an actual personality, as well as that Rapunzel doesn’t fall in love immediately, and neither does he. I like that in my fairy tales :)

    • Reply Rachael Dec 18,2013 14:02

      (btw the picture you have for your WordPress account is BEAUTIFUL)

  2. Reply Miranda Dec 23,2013 12:57

    I always have a period of acclimation during Disney movies where I’m like God why are they singing and then eventually adjust. I too hated Olaf the Snowman from the trailers but found him to be very endearing. Wonky pacing/plot points aside it was a good movie with great main characters. I will have to ask my brother why they are so terrible at marketing but this is something he has complained about in the past.

  3. Reply David Merriam Dec 25,2013 11:16

    Watching it a second time, Hans not killing Elsa earlier makes a lot more sense.

    1) He doesn’t know if Anna’s alive or dead yet, and since they weren’t married yet he had no legitimate claim to the throne. This is why, when Anna comes back, he tells everyone they got to say their wedding vows. Since everyone saw her return, it was a more realistic claim to legitimacy.

    2) He wasn’t certain if killing her would end winter. Once he talks to her and she confesses that she doesn’t know how to stop winter, his options become a little easier. He originally thought he needed her, but once Anna shows up he realizes he doesn’t. I don’t think this point was sold very well in the movie, but it’s there. Not being more clear here could relate to the pacing issue you mentioned.

    3) There are a couple of hints in the earlier scenes that he’s not all he appears to be. During “Love is an open door,” he mostly just agrees with everything she says she likes, and the line “we finish each other’s—” “—sandwiches” “That’s what I was going to say!” could be seen as cute but is actually a little desperate and manipulative. Also, when handing out blankets, the Duke questions his actions and he immediately threatens him, saying “I’ll take every action to stamp out treason.”

    I’ll agree, his villainy wasn’t strictly necessary. It would be nice had they gone without a major antagonist, but I still think it works.

    Personally I loved it (enough so that we went to see it again on our weekly movie night. :P)

  4. Reply s Dec 28,2013 07:42

    Hans sees the guy about to shoot the crossbow at Elsa, looks up at the chandelier thing, then runs over and swerves the crossbow right at it – he wanted to make it look like at an accident while looking heroic. He is the one who shot the chandelier thing which nearly killed Elsa.
    But yes I agree there were not enought narrative hints. Particularly when he bravely stands up to the snow monster and such. Usually villains display a more cowardly side

    • Reply Rachael Dec 28,2013 07:45

      Or at least give us a little soliloquy to let us know that they’re really a bad person. I never thought I’d complain about a Disney movie being too subtle about something, but there you go…

  5. Reply Keeley Pollock Jan 13,2014 23:43

    I’ve been conflicted about seeing it. Still not sure if I want to but I’ve been kind of ‘bleh’ recently about seeing any movies. This is ironic because I received scads of movie vouchers for Christmas.

  6. Reply JohnD May 9,2014 21:57

    Letting my inner kid out, Tangled is a *much* better movie than Frozen. The story makes more sense and the princess rescues the prince (technically, they rescue each other, twice) and you both have a clear set of villains and a set of pseudo-bad guys. My only complaint is that the princes realizes the truth a little too conveniently.

    Most importantly, Tangled is just more fun than frozen.

  7. Pingback: [Movie] Zootopia ← Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: