NOTE: This is the opinion of one writer on the Rotoscopers team, as is evident by last years Frozember content event. While Frozen has taken the world by storm, there are still others who don’t hold the film in such high regard. This is an article showing the less-popular perspective.
**Mild Spoiler Alert**
Some of you might remember an article I wrote in November titled 5 Reasons Why I’m NOT Excited for ‘Frozen‘, leading up to the release of the latest Disney Princess film. This article received a huge reaction from passionate fans in support of the film, so leading up to the moment that I finally got to watch the film, I kept asking myself, “Did I put my foot in it?”
While the financial success of the film can not be argued, nor the instant loyalty it received from fans, I still find a need to represent the other side of the coin. As I mentioned in the original article, I was really hoping to be proven wrong on all accounts in regards to my lack of enthusiasm on the film. While certain aspects of the film did surprise me in a positive manner, I was still left displeased with the film as a whole when the credits started to roll up the screen. Instead of going head first into a whole review, this article will look back at those 5 points from the original article.
At least we can start with something that I am glad to say I was entirely wrong about; Olaf was a surprisingly charming, and enjoyable sidekick character. The thing that struck me most about him, was that he was not just there as a sidekick, but as a physical representation of the love and life Anna and Elsa had shared before the big accident. Not to mention his song, though entirely out of place and unnecessary, was actually kind of fun and catchy. So yes, I can finally agree with you all, Olaf warmed my heart!
This is where my thoughts begin to differ from popular opinion. While I do think the basis of the film had a lot of potential, the end product did not shine as much as I had hoped it would. The story ended up feeling quite simple, and predictable, without many layers to keep me entertained. There was unnecessary action (the wolf chase, and Olaf’s song among other tidbits) that added nothing to the story, or to the characters development. That entire scene could have been cut out, and we would have been left with the same story.
Most of the major plot points in the film were quite predictable as well. The parents leaving, the Hans twist, and though I was willing to forgive the fact that we all knew Elsa was going to learn to control her powers and come home, the whole “It was love”, thing was just too easy. Let me be clear, I don’t mind love being the center of the story especially because for once it wasn’t romantic love. What I ended up having a problem with is how expositional the whole thing was, the characters literally kept expressing verbally what could have been deduced through body language, or subtext. It was like watching Forest Gump only the difference was this was not intended to be a satire.
The one scene I did enjoy completely, however, was the lodge scene. I thought it was well paced, comedic, tense, and did a lot for the story overall.
I just feel that they had such a great opportunity to tell the story of two sisters in a way we hadn’t seen before in animation. But instead of choosing the much more difficult route of telling the story of unreciprocated love, they chose to go the easy route and make it circumstantial as to why Elsa could not return Anna’s love. Easy does not make for interesting storytelling.
This is one I wish I had truly been wrong about. I’m a huge fan of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez after all! Avenue Q is one of my top 5 favorite musicals ever, so it actually pains me to say that I did not enjoy the now Oscar nominated song/lyrics combo.
While most people are fully engrossed in “Let it go”, and “For the First Time in Forever”, which are in fact quite catchy, I found myself wanting to hear more from the opening song “Frozen Heart”. I thought it was a wonderful way to get into the mood for a completely different take on a Disney princess journey. The unfortunate part was that as soon as that song ended, the entire sound and feel of the film changed musically to a much more Broadway-friendly tune. Which makes sense, considering the aforementioned song/lyric duo, but it just didn’t work for me. Where I’ve known their previous work to be slightly sardonic, humorous, and witty, I just found the rest of the soundtrack to be shallow in lyric choice, and reflective of their past work.
And yes, I do realize that working with Disney on an animated film is completely different to working with the South Park co-creators on The Book of Mormon, or even Avenue Q, but I think there are glimpses of what the team could have done better in the film itself. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” is a great example of that. Aside form “Frozen Heart”, it was the only song that actually made me feel something, and made me want more, because it came from such a heart wrenching place of honesty. That, is the kind of songwriting that makes people identify with the story, thereby winning them over, and unfortunately there just wasn’t much of it throughout the film for me.
4) Voice Acting
I have to admit here, the voice over acting was not as bad as I had thought it would be. Trailers are such strange creatures that of course when you listen to them, everything is out of context so nothing sounds as good as it should.
That being said, I still wasn’t blown away by some of the performances. Olaf, Anna, Kristoff and Hans all did well enough to not bother me too much. Unfortunately I kept listening and watching Elsa thinking “there’s something that’s just off”. Now I’m not sure if that feeling was because the animation simply didn’t match the image that Idina Menzel’s voice wanted to create in my head, or if it was simply that I was watching too closely. Regardless, that’s not to say that Idina Menzel did a terrible job, because she didn’t. All of the singer/actors did a pretty good job portraying the roles that they were handed. I just wasn’t fond of the material, which unfortunately ends up affecting how I perceive the voice acting.
This is the one part where I was really hoping Disney would make me feel sorry for what I had written before, but unfortunately it did not. By no means did any of the animation look amateurish, or low budget, but it also did not look well researched. Everything in each frame was perfect, and clean, but when it comes to snow, it is anything but clean and perfect. Anyone who has lived in a snowy place knows that: it is incredibly messy, and wet, and the physics of snow are very challenging so I understand why they didn’t get it right.
But at the same time, when you decide to take on a project called Frozen, you decide to take on a huge responsibility to do everything you can and maintain an obsessive eye to detail. This includes adding wet hems, atmosphere (or orbs) around glowing lights, and snow balls that don’t simply dissipate on impact but partially absorb and fragment simultaneously.
There were two very specific points, however, where I feel the animators did an exceptional job. The first point is at the end of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, where the camera pans from Anna sitting at the base of the door, to Elsa on the other side of the door, and Elsa’s room is revealed to be frosty, with small flakes of snow floating in the air, and a radiation of frost emitted from Elsa’s position.
The second point of the film that has stunning animated work is at the climax of the film where Hans tells Elsa that Anna is dead because of her, and Elsa falls to her knees lifting the snow storm veil that had engulfed Arandelle. In one lovely inhale from Elsa, Arandelle is revealed again. Gorgeous.
Had the animation quality in the rest of the film been as good as those two moments, I would be singing nothing but praises. But unfortunately that is not how the film panned out. I suppose I should also mention that I saw the film in regular 2D. Maybe I would feel differently had I seen it in 3D, although I find that to be unlikely.
I know a lot of fans will think I am being too critical, and possibly too hard on the studio with my opinion of a work that surely would never have gotten made had it not been good. But the thing is, I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way about Frozen. Yes, we are a minority, but I always remain objective in regards to my opinions on films, this film and studio being no exception. I grew up loving Disney, and that is the same reason why I am so hard on Disney; I expect more from the studio that showed me how to love drawn characters. I expect more from them, because I’ve seen better from them.
While I did not care for Frozen, obviously many did, and for that Disney deserves respect and credit. Many people worked on this film for years and put their heart and soul into it, for that reason, plus the reasons stated above I give Frozen 2.5/5.