Disney, Opinions, Pixar

Could ‘Frozen’ Confirm That Disney Is Now Superior To Pixar?

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FROZEN

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.

idina-menzel-frozen

Spoiler alert: Idina Menzel is one of my reasons.

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:

The Story

Elsa clearly has some issues to resolve.

Elsa clearly has some issues to resolve.

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.

Themes

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).

Toy-Story-3-Ending

Andy seen here letting g-*TEARS*

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.”

idina-menzel-frozen

Here she is again. If she ever collaborates with Brad Bird, I’ll spontaneously combust into flames, throw up a rainbow made out of skittles and unicorns and then die.

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?

Disney’s comeback

Frozen-Arendelle

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.

About Pablo Ruiz

Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian screenwriter and animation fan. He loves Pixar and Harry Potter and his greatest ambition is to one day write for Pixar. He idolizes Brad Bird and Michael Arndt and thinks "Toy Story 3" is the greatest movie ever made.
  • http://www.garywrightonline.blogspot.com/ Gary Wright

    “I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming of about what it might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”

  • http://popculturesocialclub.com/ DreamDrop♥

    That’s a little unfair if you ask me, as Pixar’s been hamstringed with sequels of late. And I honestly think Wreck It Ralph isn’t as good as people want it to be: don’t get me wrong, I like it just fine. But I’m fully aware that a good amount of my affinity for the film comes from the gamer inside me and were you to cut out the tickling that nostalgia, it’s not nearly as strong as Brave. In fact, among those I’ve talked to, the nongamers tend to lean more toward Brave than WIR. Plus you have to take in account Disney’s production of films versus Pixar’s. When you release three to five films a year versus one, you literally have three to five more chances of getting it right.

    Now, what I find a more pressing story is the rise of animation outside of the house of mouse, namely Dreamworks and Sony Animation.

    • PabloRuiz7

      Well, I’m no gamer and WIR is probably my favorite Disney movie in 15 years…And when I say Disney has been better for 3 years in a row, I’m only coating the one film that Disney Animation Studios releases every year, same amount as Pixar! =)

      • http://popculturesocialclub.com/ DreamDrop♥

        Be that as it may, the pervasive existence of gamer culture serves as enough of a touchstone that you still get it. It’s part of the cultural zeitgeist especially prevalent in the twenty-something, early thirties crowd. I still think that’s a large part of the reason you like the film. The people who are completely outside of the gaming sphere (rare though they may be) that I’ve met tend to lean more toward Brave.

        • Not Without

          I thought WIR was basically Toy Story with video game characters.

          • http://popculturesocialclub.com/ DreamDrop♥

            Not so much. Gaming is a much more substantial industry. GTAV proves that.

  • Not Without

    I haven’t seen this movie, but Disney has a long way to go. Outside of Rapuznel, Disney hasn’t created much by way memorable characters, story and songs in a long time. Pixar and Dreamworks pretty much owned the 2000s. They created compelling stories, characters (Shrek, Woody, Nemo) that are indelible. What has Disney done? Wreck-it-Ralph will disappear into the 3D-ether.

    Disney as a company keeps repeating the same mistakes. Again this isn’t the first time they’ve lost their way. Right now IMHO they are spending way too much trying to be or emulate Pixar (which they now own) and Dreameworks/Blue Sky.

    • PabloRuiz7

      Pixar and Dreamworks did dominate the 2000s. But I feel Disney has been better in the 2010s! Besides TS3 and How To Train Your Dragon, Pixar and DreamWorks haven’t done anything exactly spectacular while I honestly think Wreck-It-Ralph is a remarkable movie.

    • tt

      Pixar only came to in the 2000s. Disney was as successful as Pixar in the 1940s, but due to the World War, it was stopped. if the WW never came, Disney would’ve dominated the 90s. and ive always considered Disney to be superior to Pixar, no matter the situations. their legacies and their ability to rise back up after hard times r too impressive to dismiss, but Pixar was created during times of peace. if Pixar was in the 90s, they would’ve gone the same direction and fell in quality.

  • Max den Hartog

    Great article Pablo! Lately Pixar movies aren’t as good as they where years ago (Don’t get me wrong! I loved Brave and Monsters University and I even like Cars 2 a little),
    but these movies aren’t as good as Ratatouille, Toy Story or UP. Disney proved with
    Tangled they can make CGI fairy-tales and with Wreck-it Ralph that they can
    tell great stories. Frozen once again is a great movie and the beginning of the
    film is amazing and so well written, but I thought the end was a little weak (I
    know Jennifer could’ve written something better) still I love this movie and
    the characters are so well developed the songs are really as good and memorable
    as songs from The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. I really hope Disney
    will continue telling great stories the upcoming years and I also hope Pixar
    will return in 2015 with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur that will have great
    stories and that will be as good as UP and Ratatouille so Disney and Pixar will release
    movies that have the same quality.

    • PabloRuiz7

      I feel Inside Out will be the movie that brings Pixar back to their Glory Days. It’s such a bizarre idea…like a rat that wants to be a chef! Pete Docter directing, Giacchino scoring and (possibly) Arndt writing? Yes, please!

      • http://markb4.wordpress.com/ The Animation Commendation

        Well, “Inside Out” has elements of the Disney short from the 40′s, “Reason and Emotion” or “Emotion and Reason”, I forget what it’s called.

  • Fadi Antwan

    Fantastic article! I especially agree that WDAS holds the animation crown in the present.

    • http://markb4.wordpress.com/ The Animation Commendation

      I’m with you.

  • Nathan C.

    Just because Pixar put out two less-than-great movies (Cars 2 and Brave), that doesn’t make them a lesser studio than Disney.

    (Plus, if Frozen is actually able to top Monsters U, which was a fantastic movie in my opinion, I’ll be shocked)

    • Ray Liptak

      Cars 2, brave, monsters u, and planes are all wildly inferior to tangled, wreck-it-Ralph, and now frozen. maybe since Lasseter took the big job at Disney his quality control is pointed there.

      • Nathan C.

        Planes isn’t made by Pixar, but by Disneytoon Studios (the people who produced Tinker Bell). That in itself explains the inferior quality.

        As for the other three, comparing their quality to the recent Disney movies doesn’t move me. DIsney has had more critical failures then Pixar, so I don’t understand why people make the comparison.

        Now I’ll admit, I haven’t seen Frozen yet, but as far as I’m concerned, Disney has a lot of ground to cover before they can be considered “superior” to Pixar.

      • Nathan C.

        (This is a reply to your comment that I somehow can’t reply to)

        If Pixar can’t come close to Disney phenomenal success, why are the Rotoscopers even bothering to compare the two? Pixar is fantastic at what they do, and so is Disney. By the way, Pixar has some great ideas coming down the pike (The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out). If these films put them back on track quality-wise, what would be different when compared to Disney? Sure, Pixar is a relatively new company, but hasn’t Disney been down this road before, too? The Cars 2 of today could be The Black Caldron of the Disney’s early years (pardon the comparison, I’m not saying they’re of the same quality, but of the same scenario).

  • Alex

    I consider Disney to be superior to Pixar regardless of what their current situations are. The longevity and legacy of Disney is extremely impressive, and outshines what Pixar has done, in my opinion. While Pixar has turned out many impressive films in a short span of time, they have never really fallen on hard times and had to weather the storm. Disney has shown that they have the resilience to pick themselves back up and come back as good as ever when they fall down. Pixar has many impressive movies, but Disney definitely has one just as good to mach at every point. Pixar has no doubt made amazing films that will stay with us for a long time, and in the 2000′s, many of their films were more high quality than Disney’s, but I think Disney’s legacy is too solid to shake.

    For example, the general public still by far calls all animation Disney. In ceramic the other day, my teacher was talking about the “Disney” movie Shrek, and in euro history when my teacher was corrected for calling Finding Nemo Disney instead of Pixar, she replied “still Disney”.

    Pixar movies are great, and I love them, but in my mind, they never eclipsed Disney. Pixar’s movies have been more technically brilliant than Disney’s recent fare, but Disney has always had a certain indefinable magic and heart that no one else can copy, and that is why I still love them more.

    • http://markb4.wordpress.com/ The Animation Commendation

      That’s SUCH a pet peeve of mine when people use the word, “Disney”, to refer to any animated movie. I guess it’s good because it shows the impact that Disney has made in the industry and in everyone’s lives, but it still annoys me, lol.

  • http://markb4.wordpress.com/ The Animation Commendation

    I dunno about anyone else, but I’ve always considered Disney superior to Pixar even when they were making bad films. I’m a blind follower of Disney :D !

  • Pedro

    I SO SO SO HOPE SO, Disney deserved to win for Wreck It Ralph which was the best animated feature of last year alongside the amazing Paranorman! I was never so surprised in my life with the injustice that was watching the very lazy written Brave to win, for it was clearly the weakest of all nominees. Disney has been making great films, and it is the most important and relevant big animated studio in history, it is absolutely INSANE they haven’t won a freaking Oscar yet, when they’ve made that Oscar category possible with the work they’ve done in the past. If Frozen loses the Oscar to Monsters University that was a very easy joke safe bet, I honestly have no hope whatsoever for that category, it seems to be cursed, for Pixar has been winning over and over again, and many times without deserving the victory. Pixar lost me, they seem to get lazier everytime, and out of ideas, Disney means everything to me, and I am very happy to see them at the top again.

  • Aliscen Khaw

    i personally don’t care so much about superiority, because well every animation out there deserves a chance. but i wil admit disney is the root of animation, without walt’s risk on making snow white and all the classics, we wouldn’t have animation today.also hope that disney doesn’t just focus on 3D, they should do some 2D once in a while XD

  • UFO

    I know people in this site are excited about Frozen, but I mean c’mon tone it down a little, next thing you know you’ll be comparing Frozen to Star Wars, LOTR and Harry Potter. Frozen in the new Disney movie and that’s it, it isn’t the cure for cancer so stop overreacting to it.

    • Fadi Antwan

      This site is the home of Animation Addicts like myself. Seriously, what did you expect? Nobody is comparing Frozen to the movies you mentioned, and I am not going to speak for everyone here, but I personally like animation more than other movie genre/medium, and I am sure many people on this site do too. And so what if we compare an animated movie to Star Wars or Harry Potter? You’re assuming that EVERYBODY loves these movies, and that’s a very dangerous thing to do, my friend.

    • Ray Liptak

      Lotr is unwatchable and boring to me.

      • Supreme Hater

        Die.

  • Alyssa A

    I kind of have to disagree with you on the romance bit. Nowadays, romance is mainly pushed off to the side or just really forgotten. Romance in film nowadays seem such a side part to either adventure, family, or friendship. Not that those aren’t bad themes, but they’ve always been around. Romance today in animation feels lazy.
    I know they want to make their heroines more independent and less of romantic interests, but I feel like that’s kind of denying something that is just apart of what makes up a girl’s childhood. I know they’re trying to market to both the sexes, but then I remember this is a Disney Princess film.
    What’s up with guying up girl franchises, but guys don’t even bother?
    (My apologies for rambling off topic, this has been bugging me for awhile.)

  • khongor

    I agree that Disney movies are great.
    But Pixar movies have some magics in it.
    And yes, Frozen & Tangled were good movies but i think Brave could easily beat them both, while those 2 were good they were too predictable on the second hand Brave was just perfect

  • kuzronk

    It’s not superior but the latest couple PIXAR films have been weak.

  • Jackie

    Frozen sucks. Let It Go sucks. Highly overrated movie only because they got Idina (AKA Elphaba in Wicked) to play the lead. And no offense to Idina, I find your voice great, but you come across as belty and bland in this.