Sunday, January 12, 2014

FILM || Frozen (2013): A Short Review

For the first time in forever.

Before this movie, I only knew of one other Frozen, one about a bunch of people trapped on a ski lift in the mountains trying to get off. Then when I learned that Disney was coming up with a story loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Snow Queen. Well, I went on to read The Snow Queen and it was indeed quite a gem. Suitably dark, fanciful and beautiful, I must say. Now, on Disney's Frozen. Now you know how sometimes it gets quite annoying the way Disney animated musical features tend to be pretty shallow and cliched with the true-love's-kiss mambo jumbo, and most importantly, the happily ever afters. I only love those features for their music, especially those in the Disney Renaissance. Perhaps the only feature I actually love apart from its music is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is undeniably dark and it has a rather realistic ending: girls will always go for the good-looking guy, even if the physical deformed one has a beautiful heart. Now, I was not particularly convinced that Frozen would be a really good feature, even with critics lauding it as the best Disney feature since its Renaissance. Then, there's the popular songs, especially Let It Go. Well, let's just say I wasn't completely wrong, but I wasn't completely right, either.

The story follows two sisters, the older one having the power to freeze things. After an accident during her coronation ceremony induced by her younger sister's youthful foolishness of wanting to marry a man she had just dated for a few minutes, she flees to the mountains, being accused as a monster and a witch by her own people, where she builds her own palace and lives alone, afraid of her wild powers and hurting her younger sister again like she did in the past. Determined to make it up with her sister, the younger sister goes off to find her, guided by a mountain man, his reindeer and a talking snowman. The film builds to quite a rousing climax before coming to the usual, yet surprisingly refreshing happily-ever-after ending. Okay, so the story has huge differences from the original Andersen classic, but Disney did declare that the film is loosely based on the short story, so it is fine. The element of the frozen heart is in there, although I somehow wish that they have included elements of the mirror shards in the original. Anyway, what I find deeply refreshing about this story most particularly is the idea of 'true love'. For years, the entertainment media have always preached 'true love' as being the deep affection between two lovers of no blood relations whatsoever. This film, however, teaches that true love also includes family love or in this case, sisterly love, as Anna, the younger sister with her heart accidentally frozen by her sister, tries to save Elsa, the Snow Queen, from the blade of her former lover who is trying to seize their kingdom. That is the truest meaning of true love and it is the genuine love for her sister that later breaks the spell of her frozen heart and frees her.

On the screenplay, well, it is not so bad, although I somehow feel the whole thing is somewhat Americanised. Just an observation. Very casual sort of dialogues, easily received by audiences, but not really fitting the scenery, at least for me. Then, one character turns up speaking like a total stranger in the place within the vicinity of the kingdom itself, with heavy accents and limited vocabulary. So it is in that that the screenplay is a little inconsistent, but then again, that's just me. On the whole, the screenplay is fine. At least, it isn't too sappy. The voice-acting is not bad. Singing voice is also pretty good, especially Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. They sound pretty angelic in the movie, especially in parts where they sing as a duet.

On the technical bits, the pacing is quite suitable, though rushed in places, I must say, especially the beginning, where the King and Queen die at sea. It's just the beginning, though. After that, the pacing is just right. Animation is flawless and interesting character designs (largely similar to character designs in Tangled), although why do the lead female characters always have to have such perfect curves and the lead males always look so dashing, while the supporting characters are suddenly so ultra-normal? The score by Christophe Beck is pretty good, and the songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are also not too bad. Well, people are talking about Let It Go as being the best song in there, and I can see why. It is the sort of anthem for the modern youths who are so eager to express themselves and let it all out, never holding back whatever they feel. Yeah, it is a good song, but I guess for me, being me, I have my own personal favourites, including For The First Time In Forever and In Summer. Well, seeing as Let It Go is extremely popular, I won't be surprised that it will receive Best Original Song at the Golden Globes soon.

On the whole, a pretty good family feature with a refreshing take on the typical Disney fairy tale adaptations with brilliant songs and high production values. High chance of winning Best Animated Feature at both Golden Globes and Oscars.

Let it go! Let it go!

Rating: 4.4/5

Regards,Sam Francis
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