Wed, Dec. 18th, 2013 12:06 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
[personal profile] oyceter
I was going to see this regardless, given Idina Menzel + Disney musical, but I wasn't too excited at first, given that the only promotion I had seen was a large display of the goofy snowman in a theater.

Thankfully, it seems to be getting really good word-of-mouth, since it is (afaik) the only Disney animated movie with two female leads (sisters!!). Also, I thought the music was better than Tangled, even though I found Tangled very charming.

Anyway, will definitely be on the look out for more stuff from Jennifer Lee, the co-director and screenplay author, since I liked the gender stuff in Wreck-It Ralph (which she wrote part of). Also, first female director of a Disney movie! (And to that, wow Disney, that took you long enough.)

On another random note, Idina Menzel has now done duets with women in three major productions.

Frozen is a pretty typical Disney princess movie in many ways; it doesn't so much try to break the mold as gently stretch it. I actually liked that better than Enchanted's effort, which was an effort to break the mold but failed and had the movie becoming the very thing it was satirizing. You've got the cute sidekicks (one animated snowman, who I ended up liking instead of being annoyed by, and one reindeer), the requisite love story shoved into a hundred minutes, power ballads, and a spunky heroine who's clumsy but still conventionally attractive.

But then you have some of the other stuff.

Not hugely spoilery but just in case

Okay, first I am still excited about the fact that they made the Snow Queen one of the protagonists! And then it went with Elsa and Anna as sisters, which is still a dynamic I rarely seen on screen, period, not just in Disney movies. And I just love Elsa herself. I grew up on Disney musicals—The Little Mermaid was the second movie I saw in a theater—but even in middle school I was annoyed by the "spunky princess" template. I think that's why I gravitated to Robin McKinley so much; her heroines tend to be quiet and introverted and awkward, which is how I felt, rather than adventurous and quippy. So I love that Elsa is quiet and scared and tries so hard to be good and well-behaved, and I REALLY love that her journey in the film is one in which she tests how much she can do with her powers, eventually masters them, and ends up still being queen of the country.

And I am so happy that the climactic moment of the film is one that underlines the importance of the relationship between the sisters, not the standard romantic relationship, and that while both of the sisters grow into themselves during the movie, the big moment is about the two of them as sisters rather than emphasizing their individual journeys.

Unsurprisingly, most mainstream reviews I have read downplay how big of a difference this is, and I think it's because a lot of the beats still play out as a standard Disney movie... only with the two sisters at the center. And I can say that it is still a standard Disney movie at heart and name all the boxes they check off, but there's also the part of me that knows if I had seen this as a girl, I would have latched onto it like nothing else.

Very spoilery

I was less surprised by the plot twist than some other reactions I've seen, largely because I'd realized Kristoff was clearly the Designated Love Interest by the time we get to the troll song and Disney probably wasn't going to go with any sort of poly. I would have preferred some sort of "hey, you can break up with someone and still be friends," except evil!Hans leads straight to him trying to kill Elsa, which leads straight into Anna having to make the choice between protecting her sister and saving herself via Kristoff's kiss. Sooo... I can live with evil!Hans, because I love that ending SO MUCH. Anna saves herself! She does it by making a deliberate and active choice! I would take issue with the whole saving yourself via self-sacrifice thing, except she's doing it for her sister and not the male love interest, which makes it feel very different to me.

I had been hoping through the last half of the movie that the movie would expand on the meaning of "true love" and that the climax would be something between the sisters, but I've been disappointed enough to not depend on it. And for a moment, I thought they were going to sacrifice Olaf. But the way they wrote it was even better than I had expected! A lot of other movies and books also go for the "romance is not the be-all end-all for women," but when the climax of the plot is the romance, that undercuts the message. I love so much that the movie doesn't just undercut the romance message, it has Anna literally running away from that ending to another one of her choice.

On a more minor note, I was sad Hans turned out to be evil because I thought their duet in the beginning was really cute. Obviously I found the engagement to be too much, but the song itself sounded so sincere and happy! It captured the feel of new relationship energy and bubbliness so well!

Wiki noted that the production team did consult with Sami musicians for the opening song, which would be a step in the right direction, but given Disney's overall track record with appropriation, I'm not too confident about how well they incorporated elements of Sami culture or Sami people, period. I saw a few people online arguing that Kristoff is Sami, but overall I am way too unknowledgeable to judge either way.

Other things:

  • I am totally amused that instead of an actual talking animal, it's Kristoff voicing Sven the reindeer and essentially having a conversation with himself.

  • "Fixer Upper" is such a cute song! Except for what it is advocating! Sigh. It does try to make things better near then end by talking about how you can't really change a person and that love being the answer isn't limited to romance, but it's kind of half-assed. I do like that they are basically talking about Elsa in the last part. Also, I saw a comment somewhere saying that yeah, the song content is pretty awful, but it is being sung by trolls, so I will pretend it is deliberately trolling the viewer.

  • "In Summer" is hilarious.

  • Love the entire palace-building sequence in "Let It Go" and am amused by the similarities between "Let It Go" and "Defying Gravity."

  • I thought the slit up the skirt and Elsa's increased sashaying post wardrobe change was very OOC.

  • "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" has been making me tear up every. single. time. And I have been listening to it a lot!

  • Wow, Kristen Bell has a voice! Now I want her to do more musicals!

  • Also, I've seen her say in interviews how she wanted to make Anna very anti-Disney princess, with the awkwardness and the talking too much and the bedhead. Alas, it did not work for me... I like Anna fine, but she read very much as "spunky heroine." Psst, Disney. These attempts to do anti-Disney princesses would work a lot better with a larger variety of body types and notions of attractiveness. I'm just saying!

  • I am super sad this came out too late for Yuletide, because I want all the Elsa and Anna fic ever.

  • Have also seen people talking about how for once, the parents aren't villainous and act out of love and trying to do the best thing, but they are still terrible parents, which is a nice change. Especially since they are the biological parents, given the general poor history of fairy tales and Disney movies with families of choice.

In conclusion: the movie is a good entry into the Disney ouvre, with some groundbreaking elements. That said, I'm not sure it's something I'd rec if you don't already have some latent fondness for Disney.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] laurashapiro
Thanks for this review. I'd been on the fence about seeing it, and now I definitely wanna go.

Also: you might be interested in the version of Reefer Madness, the Musical, starring Kristen Bell. It's very OTT in a hilarious way, and she sings her heart out in it. We have it if you are unable to acquire through other means.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] laurashapiro
I've seen it mentioned by a number of friends; all said it was much better than they were expecting. I'm looking forward to it!

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
nestra: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] nestra
I definitely think you'd like it. The most important relationship in the movie is between the two sisters.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] laurashapiro
Very good to know!

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 01:37 am (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] quarter_to_five
I am totally amused that instead of an actual talking animal, it's Kristoff voicing Sven the reindeer and essentially having a conversation with himself.

Aren't they always? I mean, not the voices, but a lot of Disney movies that have improbably talking sidekicks can be read as them being the character just talking to themselves, I thnk,which is often kinda dark. (Belle, trapped alone in the manor, losing it, and of course Quasi Modo, alone in a tower his entire life. IIRC, the gargoyles even immediately turn to stone when anyone else shows up, even other good guys.)

I didn't know this was a musical! For some reason that makes me want to watch it.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 01:52 am (UTC)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sasha_feather
I agree with this review! The dress change bothered me; I liked Elsa's first dress better. Also how did her magic make a new dress?

I liked the Scandinavian stuff and overall I enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would. I went with my family on Thanksgiving, and it was the first theater movie for my nieces.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 03:32 am (UTC)
starlady: (tomoyo magic hope)
Posted by [personal profile] starlady
Agreed about the dress change. The Sami singing felt very thrown-in to me, and from what thumbnail's worth I know about the Sami, Kristof really, really doesn't read as Sami, reindeer notwithstanding.

I enjoyed it in the theater, and I really liked that it was about two sisters, but outside the theater it felt like all of the elements were sort of at odds with each other. I am definitely not going to give them a pass on Elsa and Anna's character designs being so similar, even if Elsa also looks like Jane Lynch (who was a voice actor in Wreck-It Ralph, even), and I wanted Elsa to have more character development.

But yay sisters! And the act of true love being between them! And I also loved the twist in the romance plot to death.

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 11:57 am (UTC)
londonkds: (asshats (ann1962))
Posted by [personal profile] londonkds
I've been put off by all the early criticism about how they replaced the female characters from the Anderson story with new male ones and changed the basic plot concept because a girl rescuing a boy still feels wrong in Hollywood :-(
Edited Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 11:57 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] badgerbag
Oh wow, this makes me want to watch this. With my sister :)

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 22nd, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
qian: Tiny pink head of a Katamari character (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] qian
It's a good movie to watch with your sister! I watched it with mine and we were LOLing about how similar our dynamic was.

(no subject)

Fri, Dec. 20th, 2013 04:41 am (UTC)
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] jhameia
Finally got to see the movie, and I was also a bit miffed at how the Hans dynamic worked out--here's an actually effective ruler-type person for once and he turns out to be... evil?! Really? That's just telling us that incompetent people are "better" people, which is kind of not cool. There was also just so much chemistry between him and Anna, so even though I went in knowing that this plot twist was going to happen, I still felt a little mad.

I was also kind of not-exactly-thrilled with Kristoff being an orphan raised by trolls, although I do like how they kind of downplayed it and didn't try to make him ~super special~ for having been brought up by non-humans. (And, someone did this fan re-work of Kristoff to make him look more Saami so white!Kristoff doesn't do anything for me.)

And of course, ARRGGHH can we have a movie that isn't based on people hiding from each other only to have a sudden rush of love happen!!!

(no subject)

Fri, Dec. 20th, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] jhameia
We don't really see Elsa and Anna receiving any training on how to behave around people and thus make good political choices... Elsa abandoning her kingdom at the first sign of her powers manifesting doesn't really ping me as queenly, you know? It ties in with the "people hiding" thing--there could have been a MUCH more interesting conflict if Anna was let in on the secret and it could be about the sisters (and the kingdom!) working together to protect what amounts to the most amazing military secret of all. (That would have made Weselton an even more worthy villain, perhaps an even more complicated and interesting one.) There's a lot that politically doesn't make sense to me about how the sisters were raised, but that is my worldbuilding sense tingling.

And I agree with you about Hans and Anna! Even if they didn't end up together they would still have had the "goofy younger siblings annoying the elder one" dynamic. Plus, I think Elsa would be appreciative of how Hans practically ran the kingdom quite smoothly, soothing the population, while she was gone. Political ambition isn't always a bad thing, so I'm sad they went with what they did. (I already have reparative fic in my head.)

I really like that the Kristoff/Anna relationship was so underdeveloped, too; it was quite buddy-movie like, their dynamic.

(no subject)

Sun, Dec. 22nd, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
qian: Tiny pink head of a Katamari character (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] qian
I just watched the movie and came back to reread your review! (I read it before except for the spoilery section, and I'm glad I did because then I went to see it with my sister, and we enjoyed it.) I totally identified, not with Elsa, but with the big ice monster she creates to kick out Anna et al from her ice palace. GO AWAY >:| I totally know how it feels when you're really angry and burst out in icicles all over. XD

I thought Elsa's costume change was hilarious, it was such an odd choice for the character. This weird thing where female self-confidence/empowerment in Hollywood always translates to increased sexualisation ... but I think it works better when you imagine it as something that happens onstage in a musical.

With Hans, I thought the movie was gonna go for a "you can like and get along with someone and they can still not be the right romantic partner for you", because yeah, you could tell Kristoff was the real love interest pretty early on. Sudden evil Hans was kind of random!


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