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.
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