It took me a while to gather the courage to make this. When it comes to anything Disney, there are a lot of super fans (including yours truly), so I feel as if I am throwing myself in the line of fire here. But there was just no was i’m going to pass up the chance to talk about something Disney-related.
DISCLAIMER: these are just my personal thoughts about it. I am not an animator or a professional screenwriter. I’m speaking as a person that loves Disney, film and stories—and I will try to be as objective as possible. Also, SPOILER ALERT! Also, LONG POST ALERT.
I’ve generally kept mum about my thoughts and feelings about Frozen. Mainly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. First off, I will admit that I am only very vaguely aware of the original tale, and the have only ever seen the 1957 Russian animation, which I believe does not completely follow the original tale either.
(*DID YOU KNOW? Hayao Miyazaki considers the 1957 animation of the Snow Queen as one of his major inspirations in animated film. It inspired him to stay in the industry when he was considering leaving.)
But note that I will NOT be comparing the original tale and 1957 animation with Frozen.
When the trailer for Frozen came out months ago, I have to be completely honest and say that I was …unsure of how to feel. On many levels I was excited by it. Disney does an amazing job by reimagining and retelling classic tales in a way that contemporary audiences will respond to. With Tangled, I love how they put the Healing Flower premise into the story which became the main driving force behind Mother Gothel and her relationship with Rapunzel, and this kind of twist made me excited to learn that they were going to make Frozen a sister-movie which Disney has never done before.
And third, many of you will think this is me being knit-picky and over-analytic. It very well may be. It’s just how I tend to be when it comes to story-telling. Many will say, “You’re over thinking it! It’s for kids!”
But I’m willing to bet that a big percentage of people that watch the films now, while not the majority maybe, are not kids. They’ll be teenagers at the very least—all the way up to the parents of the kids that watch them. And Disney appeals to everyone. Many of us that are on Tumblr grew up during the Golden Age of Disney and have followed their films ever since. Just because the appeal is still mostly for kids and the kids in all of us, doesn’t mean Disney can’t produce something that can also appeal to their older audience.
And just like when you’re working on a project or have a friend come up to you and say “Here, here is my new work, I want to know what you think of it. Be honest.” You will be honest because you care for that person and you want them to do well and you will give that feedback so they can make their work better with constrictive criticism.
Also, as much as I love Disney, I have to admit when I see something I don’t like or enjoy. So please bear there things in mind.
ART & ANIMATION
Many people know me as someone that loves the visual development aspect of animation and this was no exception! That whole controversy about Elsa and Anna looking almost exactly like Rapunzel didn’t bother me the slightest. I mean, many of the Disney princesses look similar to one another! (*Also, does this make Elsa the first Disney QUEEN?)
I have no qualms about the beauty of the animation. I think by now we can pretty much say that amazing animation is a standard for Disney Animation Studios. But because the animation is now so good, it now makes me wander more toward the other aspects of the film.
This will be the meat of my review! And in a nutshell, this is where I feel Disney could have done much, much better.
I don’t believe that I am the first to say that there are a lot of plot holes in this film. After walking out of the theater, I felt as though I read through a second draft of the film—which seems ridiculous because Disney goes through MANY versions.
The funny thing is, apparently there was a version of the story that had a troll prophecy—a prophecy that said that Arendelle would be cast in an eternal winter. This version sounds much more solid! I don’t know what ultimately led Disney to scrap that version but I feel like this would have made more sense! The prophecy would have given the King, Queen and Elsa to hide her powers and for the kingdom (even Anna) to be wary of Elsa once she revealed that she had the power! Right? Just me?
Anyhoo, I did not really see why it was necessary for Anna’s memory to be erased. I think things would have still happened the way they did in the film had she kept her memory. If anything, Anna’s want for the castle to be opened would be amplified because she knows why it’s been closed. Maybe it would have driven a bigger wedge between them because Anna would blame Elsa for her being trapped for so many years, unable to meet people and driving her into the arms of Hans even more instantly.
Speaking of Hans, let’s talk about this shall we? One of the things that I keep in mind with any story is the concept of The Setup. Screenwriting expert Syd Field talks about this all the time in all his books—about how everything should have a setup and a payoff. You can’t put in all these elements in a story or character and have it not serve a purpose later; and at the same time, you can’t just reveal something at the very end without building up to it.
That being said, Frozen did a weird job about creating setups without any payoffs—and payoffs without any setups.
Take the Duke of Westleton, for example. He was setup to possibly be a villain (art direction wise and motive-wise), but he just wound up taking up screen time, no payoff and he didn’t do anything of significance. He had the potential to be something, but was apparently just the comic relief of the Arendelle location, while Olaf was the comic relief outside of the kingdom.
Then there’s Hans. The only time there was ever any indication that Hans was going to turn bad was when he mentioned his twelve brothers—and, by the way, he never even mentioned until the end that he was the youngest of twelve brothers. He could have been the eldest, we don’t know that, right? This was the first and only red flag that I got when I was watching. When that came up, I thought “Yep, he’s going to be the bad guy.” I’m not being braggy—I just watch way to many films and thing about all this setup and payoff stuff while I’m watching all the time, so I’ve been hard-wired to pick the stuff up now.
In any case, while yes there was the mention of his brothers—it was only once. Maybe if the Duke of Westleton said something like “Oh, with you marrying Princess Anna you could be the next king after Queen Elsa—you’d be ahead of your other eleven brothers in the Western Isles!” Because, in the end, we were just suppose to accept that he had been scheming all along just because he revealed it. I don’t know—lack of setup!
And on other things that had the lack of setup, was the concept of True Love being the solution to the ice situation. It was mentioned constantly by the trolls, but by then it was two-thirds of the movie and whyTrue Love was the solution was never really explained.
On the subject of True Love, I’m having an inner debate as to whether true love was never between the two girls. I mean, Elsa isolated herself from Anna because she loved her—not because she was selfish. Leaving Arendelle was the first selfish thing she did, but keeping herself away from her sister was true love! As for Anna, she insisted to build a snowman with Elsa for years and years—which showed that she still loved her sister very much. Those were acts of True Love—so I didn’t quite understand why being turned into ice was the only thing that qualified as such.
Some may argue that “Love!” as the solution to melting the ice did have a setup—because it was mentioned over and over again. Love can melt a frozen heart, but how exactly did “love” help thaw the frozen kingdom?
*insert smooth segue here*
ELSA & ANNA
I got chills when I saw the first few photos released of their characters. As I said earlier, I loved the concept of them as sisters than just random characters—and it gave them more of a drive for a good story.
The characterization of each of the girls were great! They have distinct personalities that make them different from each other and other Disney characters. They also had unique motivations that served as anchors of their own plots.
However, I think the story could have been much tighter. It wasn’t really clear to me why Elsa never considered asking the trolls for help containing or removing her powers. It would have been a more interesting and stronger story arch if Elsa ran away to find the trolls or a way for her powers to be taken away from her. It would have also been interesting to see the inner turmoil and lack of control Elsa had over her powers when her parents died—I would have much rather seen that than Anna standing on the other side of the door—there was some mad iceage going on inside and we didn’t get to see it!
And for someone that tried to hide her power for years instead of secretly trying to control them in her room, Elsa managed to create a super badass castle, gorgeous clothes and a scary snow golem. I mean, I don’t know, but Kristoff’s “now THIS is ice!” comment makes me think that she’s got it pretty much under control.
Maybe if the gloves could have served as a magic controlling device and she lost it or something—would have given her more of a story.
As for Anna, her story arch was pretty much solid. I had no qualms about her actions in the story (save for her questionable decision to leave Arendelle to Hans—buuut love can make you do questionable things, I suppose). And even when there were moments where I wanted to slap some sense into her because she was so annoying, her actions made sense because the actions of Elsa and her parents made her that way (unfortunately).
KRISTOFF & SVEN
I think I have to say that pretty much my favorite character from this film is Kristoff. I liked having him on the screen all the time, and he has a solid personality.
Do I think that Disney may be milking his relationship with Sven as similar to Flynn Rider’s relationship with Max? Maybe. Am I okay with how they also gave Sven dog-like qualities like they did with Max? Not entirely. But for those two points I will let Disney get away with it one last time before it becomes a “safe play.”
(*DID YOU KNOW: in the original tale and animation, Kristoff’s character (Kai in the original) is actually the one that has his eyes and heart frozen by the Snow Queen)
And speaking of Kristoff, while I did like seeing him on the screen and hearing Jonathan Groff’s voice as him, he’s not without kinks. Like the song goes, he’s a fixer upper. There were some things setup about him that just didn’t pay off.
In the very beginning of the film, I loved how he was with the ice harvesters, it set up a lot about his character. I like how that carried over to his adulthood. But then here come the parts that need fixing.
Here’s a part that slightly bothers me. Kristoff was there when Elsa and Ana were kids with the trolls. You’d think that he probably would have remembered that incident since it’s not every day that the entire royal family go out to visit some trolls. I would have at least thought that prior to the palace closing its gates the kingdom knew what the princesses looked like—and that Kristoff would have recognized Ana when he runs into her in the Sauna.
Also, he said that the trolls were his family…um, where’d his real family go? I assumed he was a son of an ice harvester. And, of course he could still have his family, but they were never mentioned in the film (which I guess is fine) but it sort of implied (to me anyway) that the trolls became his new family in which case it makes me wonder…why?
(*DID YOU KNOW: in the original version of the snow queen, the trolls were actually the source of evil in the story.)
Speaking of trolls, I feel like they could have done more to help the story along. They are probably the closest thing to a fairy godmother figure. They know the most about magic in the realm of the story and I felt like they could have given a more concrete method of how Elsa could contain her powers—or save Arendelle. When Anna gets hit with ice to the heart, they were like “Nope. Can’t help. Wish it were the head (again), but it’s the heart this time. It has to be an act of true love.”
And they were just guessing about the True Love’s Kiss. I thought they were supposed to be love experts?
Here was a character that i had mixed feelings about. On the onset, I thought he would be a highly irritating character in a way that made me think of him as a Dory carbon copy (anyone else noticed the similar structure of his features and Dory’s?) and he had some similar mannerisms and expressions as well.
He served nothing for the purpose of driving the story forward. While he helps Anna and Kristoff find the castle, I’m sure spotting a solid ice castle (with kristoff’s eye for ice) wasn’t so difficult.
But the more I thought about his character the more i thought of his missed potential. Olaf, I assume, is a living (maybe breathing) symbol of Elsa and Anna’s love for each other. This is why assume he exists. Now, there was an entire setup/song about how he talks about wanting to be in summer and there was talk about how he could melt. When he was in front of the fire with Anna, the whole of me wanted him to melt entirely. It would have been a symbolic loss of hope for Anna and Elsa to reconcile. And besides, Elsa could rebuild him later on anyway. Maybe it would have even made me miss Olaf—maybe.
I have to say, I was all for Anna and Hans. If Disney could have found a way to have another villain or a different side-conflict other than Hans, I would be a Hanna shipper all the way. They have sibling/youngest child issues and they harmonize well in song! Did Anna and Kristoff have a song together? Nope, they did not at all.
As for Kristoff—I thought his “now this is ice!” comment would lead to this situation:
And that is it for Part 1 of my Frozen Review! I’ll be posting Part 2, all about the SOUNDTRACK! :D
Let me know if you agree or disagree. It’s always nice to have a discussion about these things—and I’m all for it!