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Film Review: Frozen (2013)

Makes me glad that I give things a fair chance.

Photo courtesy of Disney's Frozen

I'm probably one of the only people on the planet that hasn't seen Frozen until this year. Disney was going through a weird phase where, up until Frozen, none of their movies were truly getting the same audience that, say, The Lion King did during their Renaissance. Early 2010, or maybe even earlier than that was when I started paying attention to Disney films less and less, so I didn't end up seeing many of them, especially after the snooze cruise that was Cars

Though that's part of the reason why I'm nearly five years late to the Frozen fest; the other is, well, the overwhelming hype surrounding it actually made me not want to see it that much more. I was so sick of people talking about it at the time that I did my best to distance myself from the craze— and by extension, the movie— as much as possible.

But I'm a changed woman now, and I'm willing to give things a chance. I was in the mood for a Disney flick that I haven't seen, so I finally popped in Frozen. And I gotta say, I thought it was rather sweet and enjoyable.

Now, do I think it's the best Disney, or even animated film in general? No, not by a long shot. But I also don't believe it deserves the overabundance of hate it gets from the other warring camp either.

Nevertheless, we'll get to that in due time; let's start with the story for the two of you who haven't seen it (I know, I know; I'm not one to talk). Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "Snow Queen." This is one of Andersen's fairytales that I'm actually not too familiar with, but if I understand correctly, Disney's version has made changes to it. There are two royal sisters named Elsa and Anna, who are very close when they're young. Elsa is born with ice powers, and after accidentally injuring Anna during their playtime, she decides to isolate herself from her sister in order to protect her. She finds it difficult to control her powers, and because of this turns into something of a recluse, never letting on to her secret beyond the castle walls. 

We then cut to adulthood, and Elsa is crowned queen of their land. This is Anna's chance to finally try and reconnect with her sister, but when she tells her she's engaged to a prince she'd only just met, Elsa is furious. They get into a fight, and Elsa unintentionally reveals her powers to everyone. She's outcasted, and an eternal winter freezes over the land. It's up to Anna to bring her sister back, but not before leaving the kingdom under the care of her new fiancé... why their parents don't assume the responsibility, I'm not sure. But anyway, onward with the review!

There's a lot that I really liked about the film. The love and longing felt between these sisters is believable. You can feel Anna's heart slowly breaking from never being able to see her sister again as they get older, despite the fact that she tries as hard as she can to occupy herself with frivolity. A lot of people complained about how the girls never went outside, but this was actually very true of royal children; they were usually isolated from commoners and the rest of society. You also see this being depicted in fiction all the time, so I'm not sure what the issue is here.

Moving on; Anna herself is quite likeable. She's adventurous, resourceful and quick on her feet, in spite of her clumsiness and naivety. She's caring and considerate, yet also has her sassy moments. You can understand why she'd be so quick to bond with and trust people due to her inexperience and great need for socialization, but you're confident that she'll learn her lesson and do the right thing.

Elsa, on the other hand, is reserved; you see her try to be as level-headed and composed as possible, but there's still that underlying fear in the back of her mind whenever she attempts to rationalize her beliefs and choices. Being an introvert myself, I sympathized with her. She's so afraid of hurting the people she loves, to the point where she doesn't trust herself or anyone being near her, and lets her anxiety eat away at her instead of thinking about how those same people she cares about feel. I just wanted to give her a hug; she's this ray of sunshine consumed by sad rain clouds. Although to be honest, had she remained the snow queen forever, I'd have joined her too, because the cold doesn't bother me either.

The side characters were also a lot of fun. Olaf the snowman is now one of my favourite sidekicks; he always gets a good line and isn't annoying for once. Kristof and his reindeer definitely made for great companions with an endless supply of witty banter, especially where Anna is involved. The relationship between Anna and Kristof is handled exceptionally well, considering Anna starts off with another love interest, and getting the person to fall in love naturally with someone else within the same movie isn't the easiest thing to do without it being contrived and rushed. 

It nicely shows the contrast between falling for someone at first sight and falling for someone who spends time with you and sees you in your purest form. Finally, much like in Mulan, the romance between them is more or less incidental. It could've been cut and the film honestly wouldn't have suffered much in light of the plot and what happens in the end. But it's cute, so it's welcomed.

As a winter person, I relished in the scenery as our travellers were trekking up the mountain. It also helps that I'm a huge fan of action and suspenseful scenes taking place in snowy weather, so those moments were definitely gripping.

And now for the things I'm not a huge fan of. The songs, while wonderfully sung (for the most part) and orchestrated, aren't all that memorable, and "Let It Go" is grating after a while. I'm also not crazy about many of the character designs, particularly of the ones for the humans— Anna and Elsa's noses just look odd.   Although I do think Elsa's ice dress is gorgeous, and I adore her hair in that large braid. Another thing that sort of bothers me is the way Anna and her companions talk to one another; it's not very timeless, but at the same time I get that it's what people can connect to, and it is admittedly amusing, so because of that I give it a pass.

I have mixed reactions to the villain's reveal. Okay, so without spoiling anything: on the one hand, I can see why people might say that it's clever and refreshing. I also understand the message it's getting across: that it's important to find out who's really lying to you before it's too late, and that it is possible to find people who you can confide in. Nothing will necessarily remain as it seems like in most other fairytales. I get it. But at the same time, it's kind of out of no where and you have almost no reason to suspect the person due to how little time you spend with them in this movie. 

There's literally only one line that you will be reminded of to make that connection, but that's really it, and even then it just seems more like trivial backstory than anything else. You'd otherwise just assume that this person is simply naive themselves and have a lot to learn about people. I don't know. It's smart, but it also kind of seems like a way to force this movie into having yet another greedy villain. Maybe it would've been more powerful had it been focussed almost exclusively on the sisters and their conflict in trying to see eye to eye.

But regardless of these flaws, I still find the film to be entertaining and heartwarming. It's totally understandable if people dislike it, and it could very well be for the reasons other people such as myself like it, but I do think that a lot of the hate that it gets stems from its overblown popularity. People were probably tired of hearing about it and didn't see what the big deal was. In a way, I'm glad I waited until much later before I saw it, once the buzz died down a fair bit.

I know everyone's seen it by now, and that there probably isn't a point to recommending it. But I gotta end these somehow, right?