Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Movie Review: Frozen

Well Frozen was interesting. It's a good movie but I somehow feel that I don't like the movie as much as I should. I like it on a metatextual level and on an ideological level, but as a film experience I'm kind of meh. This is queuing up all sorts of other thoughts about my love of Disney and Frozen's place in the cannon. So let's go.

I'm a Disney Brat
While there are some movies that I avoided due to bad press there are very few Disney movies that I don't like. I never saw Brother Bear or Home On the Range so I'll give those the benefit of the doubt until I see them and even the other Disney movies nobody liked I dig. I actually loved the chorus in Hercules and both Atlantis and Treasure Planet are some of my favorite adventure movies.

I'll admit I've eschewed a lot of the older stuff but from about Sleeping Beauty on I love  Disney. The Great Mouse Detective, The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood kindled my love of those respective legends. I am a sucker for the mouse. I wouldn't be as much of a fan of the BBC without Disney giving me a cliff notes as a kid.

By the way I have a Robin Hood TV/Film retrospective that I really need to finish.

Anyhow there are times when someone will say hey you just have the nostalgia goggles on but I insist no. The Lion King is one of greatest films ever made.

Despite that I find myself liking but not loving Frozen. It's better than the Princess and the Frog, as well as Tangled, but all the same I'm just not getting caught up in it.  And that's a troublesome thought. While my thoughts and opinions change it's very rare that I flat out stop liking something I've dug since before I can remember.

My favorite lunch is still grilled cheese like mama used to make them. And I'll sing "Seven Nation Army" until I die.

But up until now I've thought myself relatively immune to the nostalgia goggles.  I've always held that if let's say Aladdin came out tomorrow and I saw it I would still think it was a pretty entertaining movie despite it being targeted towards kids. I dug the hell out of How to Train Your Dragon didn't I.  And this has me questioning that. This is the first time at least with Disney fair, I'm thinking I don't like this movie as much as Aladdin not because it's a less well made movie but because that movie was so tied to my childhood at least the non-crappy parts of my childhood.

I have this feeling that despite my reservations this will probably be this generation's Lion King. THAT movie. The movie that causes grown men and women to have bar fights because everybody saw it as a kid, has an opinion on it and can't just let it... NO I am not doing it. No!

I am NOT a meme!

I'll Improvise
Another thing that makes me think a little cautious is that I didn't see this movie on the big screen and most of my Disney classics I did. I saw the Lion King was the first movie a saw in a theater more than once. Oh the 90's economy. How I miss you.

There were some shots that seemed tailored the big screen and 3D but overall the film seemed to be more based around narrative than spectacle than say Rescuers Down Under.

That's not a bad thing but it does bring down the "Wow, only the mouse house could have made this" factor. Hey remember that near escape from the cave of wonders, or that eagle flight, or that dive off that waterfall, or the feast of fools, or that avalanche, or that cheetah fight, or that water buffalo chase well there doesn't seem to be anything as big as that. The closest we really get is sleigh ride chase that's throwback to Belle's wolf chase in Beauty and the Beast but it just ain't the same.  That scene had a lot of drama and so does the this movie as a whole but a good chunk of it's humor is deconstruction of the normal Disney formula, it's dialogue often but  particularly in that scene completely ignoring the life or death drama and instead focusing on "You're engaged to a dude you just met. Who does that?" It's funny and poignant but not quite as visceral as Belle's well animated terror of being ripped apart by voracious wolves.

Seriously though the "nobility" in these movies comb kingdoms and spend hundreds of man hours and probably a shit ton of tax payer money for that girl they danced with once at that party. Must suck to be a peasant.  No schools, no aqueduct, no paved roads, no subsidized healthcare or hospital, no maritime inspections. no building code enforcement, no grain/firewood reserve for the harsh winters of let's just call it ...midevictorwardsance Europe just...

This is why hereditary monarchies that can't be held accountable the constituency are bad news. What the hell do the royals do anyway?

Nevermind. I'll give my undying allegiance to that guy and follow him to the gates of Mt. Doom. His fucked up kids probably not though.

When I Was A Young Wart Hog
Look I'm not going to do a feminist critique this as a Disney film it's already been heavily analyzed by people with better credentials both above the neck and below the waist.

But honestly I do have to say I really did relate to Elsa as a character.  One of the things I struggled with as a kid up until basically now is how much do I value the opinion of what others think of me and how much should I allow that to impact my actions. How tight should that restraining bolt be?

And at various points in my life I've gone to both extremes. Being a pathetic wallowing mass of jello desperate for the approval of authority figures, and Mr. "I'm sorry. Were you under the impression that I had a basket of free fucks to give? I gave them all away last Thursday. Hey...Hey ...Hey guys do you have the fucks I gave you a while back? Oh I'm sorry they must have lost them. Now GTFO! I don't have the time or the patience for this shit." Heck you could say that my personality is still oscillating between the two depending on how stressed I am at any particular moment.

Elsa's arc was all about finding the balance between individuality, discovery of self  and making the sorts of compromises needed to maintain personal relationships, all  while it's kind of ambiguous is she has it in her to learn to love people again which is  something I kind of still struggle with. Let's just say there is probably an alternate universe somewhere where I turned into Izaya Orhihara, screwing with people just to watch the peons squirm. I said squirm! "Let It Go" was ...damn it all to hell.

It's a good scene that's kind of cathartic for both the audience and the characters. Though overall the music in the movie does eventually start to sound kind of the same. Which I suppose is one of the reasons why I don't like it. as much as I should.  Mulan gave us both "Be a Man" and "Reflection" and I still can sing both "A Whole New World" and "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. There is a reason why my pre-mp3 CD collection is about a fourth Disney soundtracks.

"Let it Go" on the other hand feels like the only really memorable song in this thing. Of course The Princess and the Frog had the same problem with "Friends on the Other Side" (Eh em. Miles aren't you forgetting something.)


But still there just wasn't a lot of good music in that musical. Again Frozen lacks the big show piece moments of my youth, which makes it a different beast from those movies. But I can't say all together that's bad. Again all the why "Elsa and Anna make better princesses than Belle, Aurora and even Jasmine" arguments has been worked to death so I'm not going there.

Still their plot has more to do with platonic relationships which at least in this moment haven't been drummed up so much by Hollywood fantasy as romantic ones have. (What about macho honor brotherhood relationships ... laterz) The sisters' relationship and the central conflict it provides feels more real than say "Kiss the Girl" largely because their dynamic isn't caused by wuv but their inherent character personalities and how they clash. Good drama.

You could stick anybody into Snow's glass case her movie would be the same film because ...wuv but you can't do that with either of these two.

I give Disney movies a lot of flack, despite my affection for them, but this seems to be the zenith of a trend since Belle. (You said you weren't going to do it. ) For years Disney has been trying to get onto the feminism train and this is the first movie that feels like it has more than a cursory understanding of feminist theory. Yeah Belle, Mulan and Merida kick ass and prove they can hang with and handle the boys but this feels in a way like the the first movie they made that was about the experience of being a woman coming into her own rather than just starring one. At least it feels that way to someone who is xy. So yeah it's an important movie and I can appreciate what it's trying and succeeding at doing.

But ...still no rattling rocks and zoom close up on Simba's face as doom approaches.

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