My initial reaction to Frozen trailers in early 2013 were tarnished by the fact of its similarity to Tangled. As positive reviews began to bubble on the internet my approach shifted and I became more keen on discovering what the film had to offer.
Now I’ll admit my opinion of the film is a bit biased because I saw it in a theater full of animation students. The jokes and animation were exceptionally appreciated and laughs were very strong. So when the screening ended I had a rather positive reaction to the film and that may have been slightly different had I seen it with another audience.
Frozen is unapologetically a musical. So if songs aren’t your deal it is probably best to pass this film on by (or watch it once at least just for the animation). The songs have became rather popular and there is plenty of coverage on them so I won’t say too much. Except that I enjoyed some of the lead ups into them and that the lyrics were well crafted.
The number one thing that stood out to me was the animation. I am not sure if it is simply due to my studies but the quality really stood out. The nuances in the characters captivated me. I really felt that the characters I was watching were real and had distinct traits. These characteristics were communicated beautifully through the expressions, shoulders, posing, and hands. So much that I my eyes were glued to the screen- there were times I would laugh to myself during the film because I just couldn’t believe how effectively the characters were animated.
Of course the story is the thing that will be held under the scrutiny by most. Parts in the middle feel moderately “box-car” and conflict seems to spring out of no where to drive the story along at points. Anna and Kristoff’s romance feels silly after Kristoff himself points out how ridiculous it is to fall in love so quickly. Hans’ villainy was a twist; but maybe a tad to pushed of one (I think that if during the scene where they storm the ice castle if they had him see the crossbow pointed at Elsa and then did nothing (he mentions later that he wants her dead anyways)- this wouldn’t even require a devious expression but it would have been a short little clue that would have made the reveal more believable). Yet, to me, the strengths were more significant than these flaws. Not having a typical disney villain was a refreshing change. The beginning had a real tasteful set up and the relationship between the sisters felt tactile. How the characters interacted with one another felt plausible except when it wasn’t supposed to (“Love is an open Door). However what sold me was the moment of truth that transpired on the giant plain of ice- the camera work and dramatization of character was mesmerizing.
This leads back to the Tangled/Frozen comparison. Here and there I’ve seen multiple comments on how Tangled is better/or how Tangled is a film with more re-watch value than Frozen, and so on. Tangled most certainly has an artistry to it’s film that is hard to follow. Frozen makes it even harder on itself by adding a character like Sven, which in my opinion pales in comparison to Maximus. However, I thought here I would be one voice to the contrary and say that Frozen has a higher ranking in my preferences. In Tangled, Flynn and Rapunzel felt as if they were both tugging for the main character roll; and with Rupunzel’s place of naiveté she honestly just didn’t convince me as well as say… Anna- who is in a way a very similar character. In Frozen, there seemed to be more of an attempt to drive the characters through story based on the tangible decisions that they made; as opposed to Tangled where I felt the characters were more pigeon-holed into archetypal choices. However what is the largest deciding factor for me is the comparison of the ending situations. Both have character’s who die and revive; but the advantage Frozen has it is the main character who sacrifices herself to save another character- and after doing so she reaps the consequences that were enacted by the sister she just saved. That is a very compelling concept. In Tangled, at the final moment mother Gothel is painted as a complete villain- which is necessary as what happens to her is horrific. However since you are not meant to care for her; you are only left with Flynn’s sacrifice to empathize with. As opposed to the moment Elsa has at the end where she also is mourning because of the loss of her savior- but is deeper because she feels responsible for the ailment that she caused her sister- also there is the additive benefit that Frozen sets up that Kristoff is going to save Anna but it ends alternatively. As opposed to Tangled where the archetypes all play out there role in that final scene and things happen predictably.
Film finds everyone in a different place; depending on your experience how you interpret the characters on screen your reaction to a movie could be completely contrast another’s interpretation. Trying to create a film in general is difficult, and attempting to develop something for international audiences of all ages is even more so. As an aspiring animator, it would be easy to sit with my arms crossed and judge a film to death; but I try to latch onto the positive. Sure, there may be things that I think could make a movie better but who knows I could be just as flawed. Frozen is what it is; no one’s opinion at this point is going to change the film- so learn from the mistakes that you think are there- but most of all consider the things that you appreciate about the film.
~ Oh and if you are nerdy like me; just watch out for the subtleties of the animation in Frozen- really amazing!