As a normal member of the Rotoscopers family, I’m super excited for Frozen (remember, there’s a black sheep in every family). I have several reasons to believe it will be an amazing movie and as I was writing a list of these reasons, I realized this could be the third year in a row Disney has produced a better movie than Pixar. So this is a list of the reasons I think Frozen will be awesome and why it could confirm Disney is now superior to Pixar.
But before all of that, let me say I love and adore Pixar. Heck, I’m the resident Pixar writer here on Rotoscopers.com. I don’t think they’re mediocre now. I love them and I am an aspiring filmmaker because of PIxar. That does not mean, however, that I can’t think Disney has been better in the last few years. This isn’t precisely criticism of Pixar, but rather more of praise for Disney.
So here’s why Frozen will be an amazing movie and why Disney could be now superior to Pixar:
Last year, Jennifer Lee proved her screenwriting chops with Wreck-It-Ralph, a story where everything was there for a reason. I remember watching the movie and thinking the Mentos/Diet Coke volcano being a fun throwaway joke. But nope! In a good script, everything happens for a reason. Everything is there for a reason. In Wreck-It-Ralph everything had a payoff. It was a wonderfully written story.
From what I’ve gathered from trailers and spoiler-free reviews, Frozen will deal with a broken relationship between two sisters. And I think that’s fantastic because it makes it personal. The filmmakers have said that from the moment they decided these two would be sisters, the story started going to interesting places. There are external stakes to the story (The kingdom is covered in ice! We need to solve this!), but it’s the emotional stakes that make movies great. Even better, *Mild spoiler alert!* I read somewhere that Elsa accidentally hurt Anna with her powers when they were little, thus creating the conflict between them. While Anna doesn’t remember the incident, it haunts Elsa and fills her with guilt. Sounds like a wonderful way to burden Elsa and explain her behavior. *End of mild spoilers*
It seems Disney learned from Pixar in this one. Pixar rarely puts a romantic relationship in the center of their stories (Wall-E being the exception), preferring instead to focus on friendships or family relationships. And Jennifer Lee seems to agree this is a good idea, since both Wreck-It-Ralph and Frozen focus on relationships that aren’t romantic. Don’t get me wrong, Beauty and the Beast revolves around a romantic relationship and it is amazing, but it’s so refreshing to see the power of friendship being explored.
Some of the best Pixar movies are about letting go of the past and embracing the present. Woody has to let go of Andy in Toy Story 3, Mr. Incredible has to move on from the Glory Days and enjoy his family and Marlin has to let go and let Nemo live his life. It seems Frozen will deal with similar themes, at least according to the trailers and the song ‘Let It Go‘ (which, surprisingly, is about letting go).
It seems clear poor Elsa is not comfortable with her ice-bending powers. She has to hide them and live in fear of being discovered or accidentally hurting someone. I assume we’ll see her struggle with this quite a bit and eventually letting go and embracing who she is, the song being a pivotal point in her character arc, of course. It doesn’t hurt when you have Idina Menzel singing said song, especially considering it’s thematically similar to Wicked’s “Defying Gravity.”
But even when Elsa accepts who she truly is and embraces her power, the emotional core of the movie will be her relationship to Anna and how they can mend it (I guess). I’m sure the script will explore this in an interesting way, hopefully throwing a few surprises at us. But the important part is that the movie will have emotional stakes and that’s very good news.
It’s a musical!
Most of us grew up with Disney movies (I’m terribly sorry for you if you didn’t) and most of those movies were musicals. We all know the words to “Hakuna Matata,” “Under The Sea,” “A Whole New World” and “Be Our Guest.” It’s only natural to be excited about having new songs to memorize, since Tangled happened over two years ago. I bet most of you lost it when they FINALLY acknowledged the movie was a musical and showed us a bit of the music during the last trailer. I definitely did.
Also, animated movies have been traditionally strong in the Best Original Song category (34 nominations since The Little Mermaid started Disney’s Renaissance) so there’s a strong chance Idina Menzel will succeed Adele as Best Original Song winner. Have I mentioned I love Idina Menzel?
Some people could see this as a negative point, but personally, I’m delighted when I see a studio, director or writer going back to their roots and giving us a new spin on something they know perfectly well how to do. So Disney doing a new musical princess movie is a wildly exciting prospect. Especially when early reviews have called it “This generation’s Beauty and the Beast” and Disney’s own marketing team is feeling so confident they’re calling it the biggest animated event since The Lion King.
I feel and hope Disney’s comeback will only be confirmed with Frozen. After years of living under Pixar’s shadow, if this movie is truly as great as us Rotoscopers are hoping it to be, it would be the third year in a row that Disney releases a better movie than Pixar (Winnie The Pooh vs Cars 2, Wreck-It-Ralph vs Brave & Frozen vs Monsters University).
It seems to me, right now, the parent studio is the strongest one and wears the animation crown. Although they haven’t released anything as good as any of the Pixar masterpieces, they’ve been getting better and better with the years, while Pixar hasn’t been firing at all cylinders since Toy Story 3. Maybe this will finally be the movie that earns Walt Disney Animation its first Best Animated Feature Oscar.