Disney, News, Opinions

Did I Put My Foot in it? A ‘Frozen’ Review

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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**

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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.

1) Olaf

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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!

2) Plot

frozen-elsa-anna-ending

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.

3) Score/Music/Lyrics


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

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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.

5) Animation

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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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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About Mayra Amaya

Mayra Amaya is a Theater graduate from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ where she also learned filmmaking. Amaya now resides in Brooklyn, NY where she works as an actor, writer and sandwich maker. You can follow her on Twitter (@amayasunwizard).
  • Merina

    Thank the Lord, I’m not the only one! I came out of Frozen feeling exactly like you; pleasantly surprised by some aspects, but horribly disappointed by others. I wanted to love this movie to the ends of the earth, but the more times I watch it and the more I deconstruct the plot and characters, the more questions and confusion and just overall issues I have with it.

    I’m glad so many people loved it, but for me, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Thank you for summing up some great points in this article as to why that might have been 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you have an hour to spare (or longer) you should check out this article on “Frozen” which goes into why the film isn’t really a feminism piece (a friend shared this with me and it blew me away!): https://medium.com/disney-and-animation/7c0bbc7252ef

      • Merina

        Thank you very much for the recommendation. I’ve actually already read it and yes, it is a great article! Really well thought-out and I love how in-detail she goes into everything. I’m tempted to write my own piece now, on why I had so many issues with the movie…

        • I’m glad! I’m a little sorry I read it after I wrote this, but you should write yours. I would love to read it 🙂

          • Merina

            That’s very kind of you to say, thank you 🙂 does http://www.rotoscopers.com accept articles from freelance writers? I will have a look around and see if that’s an option…

      • Ranting Swede

        Wow, I read that and had to disagree with many of the arguments on the basis of how reductive they were and how she was determined to make a bad faith interpretation of everything. Checking the hyperbole of the praise around the film is one thing. Disregarding small improvements because they aren’t up to snuff is to live in a fantasy world. And darn it, the people who are happy to appreciate small steps always come off the worse in a battle of moral superiority, don’t they?

        • Thank you so much for posting that link! I read the article on Medium and had a terrible headache afterwards from all the facepalming. That rebuttal addressed pretty much everything that bothered me about the original one. Also, I actually cackled while reading. Very entertaining and gets right to the point.

          It’s a shame, though. I thought the first article was kinda/sorta circling a far more interesting idea, which is the difference between the perception of Disney films and what Disney actually did, and how Frozen fits in that canon. I was extremely frustrated by how it either missed the point completely (Elsa’s relationship with Anna and opening the gates as “bonus,” rather than Anna’s stated “wants”? Eh?) or ignored/misrepresented key parts of the narrative to fit that “feminist critique.” On that note, I thought this paragraph was wonderful:

          “Feminist theory applies the lens of an ideology – a malleable and constantly changing ideology, might I add – to existing work. Works may be influenced by feminist ideology, but asking things like “Is this feminist?” is inherently flawed, because the answer is always no. Aspects will line up to some parts of the ideology, but if the whole thing is just parroting feminist talking points? That’s agenda, buddy. Ain’t no good art ever came from a straight up agenda.”

          I hope anyone who checks out the article on Medium takes the time to read the rebuttal, too. It’s well worth it.

      • Briana Roop

        Please do not take this personally – this is more towards the writer of the article, and everyone is allowed their opinions. I find so many things wrong with that article, as a woman, a feminist, and a person with mental illness. I couldn’t finish the article, because after the “analysis” on Elsa, I felt personally vindicated with the terminology she used. I know when I need to turn away from something on the internet. Others are not quite so lucky, and I feel that this article should have had a trigger warning attached to it, particularly for those with anxiety and panic disorders.

        I have suffered from severe anxiety since an early age. The first panic attack I had was when I was 10, and have since suffered from GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, here’s a link to describe it. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml ) It is clear that Elsa is a depiction of Anxiety and Depression, and has been confirmed by one of the directors ( https://twitter.com/alittlejelee/status/422026410723532800 ).

        It’s hard for me to articulate sometimes, so I’m sorry if this is worded weirdly. It doesn’t help that this issue makes me very emotional. But the accusation that Elsa’s behavior, mannerisms, and actions somehow disqualify her from the “Strong Female Character” list really makes me see red, and honestly, I don’t want to see her there if that’s what the qualifications are – because then I’m not a Strong Female, either. Other than the fact that I’m throwing luggage anywhere between 20-100 pounds around daily, I am emotionally fragile, I used to run away from my problems, and I am somewhat socially impaired. I needed to learn. I have weaknesses, and I have a strengths, and I have learned to embrace them.

        “Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.” – http://madlori.tumblr.com/post/51723411550/rebloggable-by-request-well-first-of-all

        There is so much more to Elsa – and to people like Elsa – that the writer gives credit for. It’s devastatingly disappointing to see people that still think like this.

      • Person who doesn’t reason well

        I’ve read that before and about what she said about Anna being “belligerent” towards Elsa:

        Was this person watching the same movie as me? How is trying to help your sister overcome her fear and then sacrificing yourself to save her acting belligerent towards her? Also, about what she said about Elsa:

        Elsa is just a human. It’s not like every woman (what the heck, any person) you meet in life is going to be fearless or “strong” or whatever.

        Elsa is just a human. I mean the writer of that article must not care for complicated or realistic women. She only wants strong women in her movies/books/TV shows. (If she mentions any of these things later in the article, I’m sorry, I just couldn’t bear reading that darn thing any farther, it’s so long you should be able to rate it on GoodReads) Without trying to make this overlong, you can check out this ironically overlong article:

        http://namebrandlindsay.com/2014/02/04/the-problem-with-the-problem-with-false-feminism-a-strongly-worded-rebuttal/

  • Kendree

    Totally agree! I think Idina was just wrong wrong wrong all over te place. Her voice is not of an 18 year old girl and it drove me crazy. Her “snarling” gets so so old. “Tell the guuuuards to ooppen up the gaaaaaate!” <— barf.

    • Peter

      I would have to disagree with that. To begin, Elsa is 21 not 18 so to me with that being her age, Idina was the perfect voice actor for Elsa.

    • Roboco

      Elsa’s 21 and being shut out on her own in her room for 13 years matures her faster, no?

  • Frank

    Good article, despite you not going for the popular opinion, you did give valid reasons for you dislike. Unpopular opinions are always interesting to talk about if you can back up your points.

    I did want to talk about two main points in your article:

    2. I agree about the Wolf Chase being pointless. All that established was Anna being fearless, which we already knew already. The Olaf song didn’t bother me at all personally. Yes, it’s one of the lesser songs, but it’s short. The song is only 2 minutes, so I really didn’t think the story suffered because of that. I agree that the resolution did feel like it ended too quickly. I so surprised you didn’t bring up the first act problems. I really like Frozen, but I felt the first act was somewhat contrived and I questioned certain character’s decisions (the parents). For example, the trolls erased Anna’s memories because……?

    4. Kristen Bell and Josh Gad impressed me the most when it came to the voice acting. I felt they both brought so much life and energy to their characters. I like how most of the cast consist of Broadway people. We see so many studios just hire celebrity voices just for name sake. It’s refreshing hearing unrecongizable voices like Jonathan Groff and Santino Fontana in an animated movie.

    All in all I still really like Frozen, but I can see its flaws and why it’s too much for some people.

    • Well honestly, if I went over everything, it would have been one heck of a long article 😉 but I agree the first act felt too contrived.

      And I agree! It is lovely that the studios are reaching into Broadway instead of just Hollywood for their talent. Hopefully we see them stretching even further into indies or even inside their own studios more 🙂

  • James

    When I originally saw the film, I was with the majority of people and thought it was a masterpiece. But when people would say it’s “this generation’s Lion King”, then I would compare it to other great Disney movies, and THEN see the faults. I’d give it somewhere between a 3 or a 4, but I agree with all of your points definitely!

    • I also had a huge issue with people comparing it with “The Lion King”. The biggest reason is that TLK is based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which is a literary work of art that has tested time for over 400 years, whereas ‘Frozen’ is a severely removed adaptation of “The Snow Queen”, so it has very little with the actual story. You can’t compare the two circumstances, in my opinion.

      • Dianne

        WHat do you think of the comparisons made between The Lion King and Kimba The White Lion?

        • I actually hadn’t heard too much of Kimba, but did some quick digging and the similarities are striking. Though it seems most of the story specifics are not similar at all. It’s a toughie, and I’m not confident about my knowledge on the subject.

  • Fadi Antwan

    I loved Frozen, but I too was a bit disappointed with the music. It could have been much better. I’m happy that you liked “Frozen Heart.” It’s my favorite, and unfortunately, people seem to be ignoring it.

    • Jaimie

      Frozen Heart was the perfect song to open the film. I also loved Vuelie. I just loved the music, all of it, and there isn’t a bad song. They get stuck in your head and never leave!

    • Yeah, I don’t really know why people are ignoring it. Say what you want about “Let it Go” (personally I hate it), but Frozen Heart and Vuelie really set a great tone, only to be abandoned. I think if the rest of it had at least a similar sound, I would feel differently about the film overall.

      • Biblio-Phil

        Hold up the train…you hate “Let it Go”?!
        WHAT?!

        • Unfortunately my ears do not take kindly to Broadway styled anthems….which is a shame because I live in NYC and there’s so much here! Ah the irony of my life.

          • whatthefrick

            This is possible?

          • It is indeed. You know, just like not everyone is into pop music. Broadway is pop theatre…I like grungier stuff, Off-Off Broadway kind of stuff. I appreciate Broadway musicals, just not in love with them. Except for “The Lion King”, nothing beats that musical. Julie Taymor won with that one.

      • emily

        So many of your points are not well researched at all. Vuelie was not abandoned. It was even given a reprise during the great defrosting scene! And you can’t forget the fanfare of Do You Want To Build A Snowman playing in the end scene. That was perfect. Also as someone mentioned earlier, Elsa’s castle goes through a great transition when Elsa has a breakdown, to which you just causally write as you missed it. What? It makes you sound so superficial. I personally had problems with the story and pacing too. The first act (up until Let It Go) was done very well. But the rest of the plot suffers to live up to the first act similarly to how Brave failed to reach it’s potential. But you point out problems with the film that in my opinion were done beautifully! I think the comparison to Lion King is just: Lion King had similar flaws and strong points as Frozen. It sounds like you didn’t give the film a open minded viewing. And your word choice needs work. Using the word “hate” for Let It Go? Aren’t you a writer?

        And the article was written in such a bitter tone. You sound like the person who refused to admit the iPhone changed the cell phone market.

        • CascadeWvera1

          I wouldn’t be comparing Frozen to Brave as Frozen probably had more things to make up for the story than Brave had (i.e. Most of the songs were good, the characters were likeable, the animation was beautiful (to some apparently)). But yeah, I could have lived without the sudden backslash to ‘Let It Go’ and the title of the article being ‘Did I Put My Foot In It?’. I mean, I get that this writer didn’t care for the film, and I get that, but that was a little uncalled for and bitter.

        • Anonymous

          I do think Frozen may have failed to reach its full potential, but it’s a lot better than Brave, in my opinion. I think Brave may have been more disappointing for most people for one reason: it’s Pixar. I guess people have been always let down that Pixar’s first female protagonist was in a disappointing film. Most people probably got their hopes up, unlike Frozen where everyone dreaded Olaf the Snowman.

  • Sera

    This is a better written article than your first one and you did a better job expressing your opinion. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with a lot of what you said but it doesn’t matter because I loved it and I can see how good it really is. I hope that maybe in a few years you’ll watch it and she what the rest of us see and be touched by it like I have because this film is perfection. I figure if you never come to this realization, of course that sucks but, there will always be amazing disney films coming out that will move your soul in a way that no other film has. Good day to you.

    • Thank you for the compliment. I do agree the previous article needed more time.

      That’s what opinions are for! You will always love the film, but I will probably only come to accept it….okay I actually am really fond of “Do you wanna build a snowman?” now so at least we can share that in common 😉 But as a whole, I don’t see myself slowly falling in love with it…only time will tell. Thanks for your comment!

  • David

    While I can’t really rebuke anything Mayra wrote (except for 1 point that I will touch on later), the only issue I took with this review is that Morgan decided to publish it so far after the films release. The only possible reason for this is to gain more site hits. If this review said anything new, I could understand that, but it is basically inline with other negative reviews of the film. It’s not badly written by any means, but it just isn’t different. I think the fact that this was posted/written now and not a while ago is what makes me the most upset.

    I would like it if the author could expand a little bit on the problems she had with the plot though. I know she said that she felt like Disney took the easy way out, but why do you feel like that? I don’t know why you mean by exploring unreciprocated love. Then you follow it with ‘circumstantial’, which, outside of a legal context, means ‘fully detailed’.

    Lastly, the animation thing. Ehhhhhh, you obviously haven’t lived in a place where you have snow more than 6+ months a year. Looking at your short bio, AZ wouldn’t help you there and I know NY does not get as nearly as much snow as I do up North. The snow mechanics were quite good. You need to remember that much of the snow that was in this film was FRESH snow and had not had time to be ruined by humanity. A big snowstorm often leaves fresh blankets of snow exactly like that.

    Can’t argue with anything else.

    David

    • Unfortunately you are completely wrong about the lateness of this post. I had personal affairs that spanned from the time before the movie was released until recently so I could not post my thoughts until then (also explains my over all absence on the internet). So in reality, I just didn’t have any time or internet access to write this in a timely matter. Also, because this is an article based on an article written in November, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t see anything new in it as I only re-covered the same 5 points from that article.

      In terms of an easy plot, everything was thrust in front of Elsa and Anna, giving them no real choice on their course of action, also not allowing for several choices to reveal themselves, allowing for a complication of the story. As for exploring unreciprocated love, it is much easier to explain to an audience that Elsa really loved Anna, but couldn’t really have a relationship with her because of the circumstance/case with her powers (which is what I meant by circumstantial which admittedly may be a misuse of words on my part).

      Call me bitter, or cynical, but I just thought it would be more interesting to tell the story of Anna having to fight for Elsa’s love, that Elsa shut herself away not just because of the fear she has for the general public, but because she didn’t really entirely reciprocate Anna’s love whole-heartedly (maybe thinking Anna was just like the rest of the people who would call her a sorceress without giving Elsa the benefit of the doubt).

      In terms of the snow bit, I suppose I should explain myself as an artist and that should put it into perspective as well. Aside from being a writer/actor, I’ve also dabbled as a theatre director, and Production Designer, and my aesthetic overall tends to lean toward the grittier, imperfect, raw realm of things. So, I particularly enjoy it when a set design reflects the inner workings of a story. When it is about raw human emotion, which is anything but neat and pretty, it should (in my opinion) be messy, and gritty in order to reflect that. And while, I don’t necessarily think Frozen was messy (in terms of story), or about raw human emotion, I still thought it was just too perfect. Pretty for the sake of being pretty, and that’s always been one of my biggest qualms about productions as a whole. But this is purely my personal take on art overall which is a admittedly a completely different conversation.

      • Hmm, I disagree with your last point. I do think set design is important in terms of reflecting the themes of a story, and for the most part, Frozen did that. The “neat and pretty” animation is largely restricted to the section of the film between Let it Go and First Time in Forever (Reprise), particularly when it comes to (a) the ice palace and (b) the scene just before Olaf is introduced (“I never knew winter could be so beautiful!” “A palace made of ice! I’m going to cry…”). At this stage, Elsa’s powers, though unleashed, reflect her state of mind at the end of Let it Go. Everything changes after Anna is struck, though. Elsa’s palace becomes distorted (and eventually damaged), the colours are darker, the ice and snow looks dangerous and oppressive, and it escalates the closer we get to the climax.

        I thought the transition was well done, as it was laid out right at the start, first by the ice harvesters (“beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold, ice has a power can’t be controlled”) and then by the trolls, by putting “beauty” and “danger” as two sides of the same coin. Though I can understand not liking the aesthetics of the film, I thought their approach was pretty consistent with the action and themes of the story (though I do agree with some of your comments about the animation, in the article).

        • Hm. I didn’t notice this transition but next time I see the film I will look for this.

    • Don’t take this out on me. I don’t “hold” articles from the writers hoping that in doing so we’ll get more hits. Everyone publishes and writes their articles on their own time. Mayra (as she mentioned below, she’s been incredibly busy and helping with family affairs since November) just barely wrote this article last week and chose to publish it today.

      Also, even if she had written this months ago, it wouldn’t make sense to hold it for nearly TWO months after the movie came out.

  • Anthony Raphael

    I too felt like the ending of the movie was missing something. whats weird is that i watched frozen then I decided to watch tangled, and I forgot how much I loved the movie, sometimes I like Tangled better than frozen. Then last week I decided to watch the little mermaid, which I haven’t watched in about 5 years and I loved it way better than Frozen or Tangled, but as a whole Disney does make some great storyline

  • Anthony Raphael

    I said the exact same thing about Idina voice as Elsa on Youtube and I got slammed, everyone literally hated the comment I posted. I felt that Idina voice is very raw and strong and it didn’t go with the way elsa looked, but it is growing on me. However Frozen is a great movie

    • I mentioned this in our podcast review of Frozen. I simply felt that Idina Menzel was too powerful/strong of a voice for Elsa. Even now, I never quite see the match there between the character and when she speaks.

      I feel Idina was cast solely because she was had this epic Broadway voice and they wanted to capitalize on that. Maybe Elsa was older in some versions of the film and they just didn’t want to recast her. Who knows.

      • Anthony Raphael

        Im just glad I’m not the only one who thinks that way

  • I don’t think that the snow was poorly researched. I’m actually positive that they spent a LOT of time getting that to look the way it did.

    I think technology was what limited the snow animation. I remember certain scenes in the snow where the characters are pristine. They’ve been tromping through the snow, yet their boots are clean and they don’t have any snow clinging to them. I think this is why quite a few of the shots in the snow don’t show us the characters feet.

  • “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.”
    I disagree completely! I actually think unreciprocated love would have led to a far more straightforward version of the story, where Anna would have inevitably assumed a more traditional role as the protagonist, and Elsa as the antagonist. Once you do that, the story itself is fairly predictable: Anna has to “win” Elsa’s affection, and Elsa needs to recognise the error of her ways, so they can have a reconciliation at the end. The conclusion is fairly self-contained.

    The situation as presented in the film is far more complex. You have two people who genuinely love each other, but who are unable to demonstrate it. The challenge, then, is to make the viewer side with both sisters, as they both have an understandable and sympathetic point of view, with their own particular journeys and lessons that go beyond their relationship. Anna’s sacrifice is the catalyst for Elsa’s epiphany about her powers, but the consequence isn’t just a reconciliation with Anna, but her own happiness and peace of mind. Likewise, Anna gets her wish — she finds true love (not Kristoff — very important — but her sister), but the lesson she gains from that goes far beyond her renewed relationship with Elsa (see: Olaf’s definition of what love is). The circumstances that separate Anna and Elsa are largely internal conflicts — that’s what makes it compelling. They both need to sort themselves out, and though they’re both the key for the other to do that, it’s ultimately their own journey.

    Going from another perspective, I also found, as a viewer with a younger sister, that the relationship between Anna and Elsa rang true. Their relationship made sense, from Anna’s yearning for her big sister to Elsa’s isolation, because there have been elements of that in my own life (interestingly, when I discussed the film with my sister, she naturally fell in line with Anna’s point of view, while I naturally argued from Elsa’s — it was a very enlightening conversation), and it was a relief, almost, to see that reflected on a more epic scale on screen — I’ve never seen that in a film — any film — before.

  • Alissa Roy

    Yeah… I have never seen Wicked so I didn’t have that love for Idina Menzel like a lot of people had prior to the movie, and while I liked Let it Go, I frankly thought that Elsa sounded like a 40-year old woman with a rather chipmunk-y voice- not a 21-year old. I felt bad for thinking this way, especially since so many people love Idina, but it frankly just did not fit the character. I had put off listening to any of the music beforehand, so I was so excited with the opening chanting song that was so cool and original (definitely my favorite song, and then Do You Want to Build a Snowman.) And while I couldn’t say that the music was bad, it just kind of got blah and boring from there, just completely stereotypical Broadway music that I find tiring after a while. I really and truly loved the movie, but I did feel that the music left a lot to be desired. 100% agree with you on that point Mayra!
    That being said, I really liked the movie, and I may be exaggerating my dislike of the music slightly, because while I found it fine, it just didn’t do it for me. However, on the point with the snow: They actually traveled all over the place to research the snow (even the Ice Hotel in Quebec, a place that I too have visited), and as someone who lives in a place where it snows 5 months of the year (if we are lucky), I thought that they did a pretty good job with it. In fact, they made it a lot more beautiful than it actually is (although, lately I have been feeling anti-snow, like Olaf, I too am ready for summer and have come to resent any snow that may fall.) I think that if the snow ever felt off to you, it was probably because they were trying to make it too magical rather than realistic (let’s face it, Anna would have frozen to death before she even ran into Kristoff, and even then that skimpy little dress/cape combo would not have kept her warm. We have finally finished a month of negative degree weather where I live, with the promise of yet another blizzard tomorrow. Trust me on this point, Anna would have died.) For anyone who finds snow magical: it isn’t. It really, really sucks. Frozen actually made me think that it could be though.

    I may not agree with you on everything Mayra, but I have to say, excellent article! While I may have loved the movie, I always find it interesting to hear other people’s viewpoints!

  • Brandon Kelly

    I still really like the film, but there are issues I have with the movie. I felt that Kristoff needed a little bit more development. Flynn Rider had way more development than Kristoff did. I LOVE Elsa, I really have no problems with the character. It is a nice twist to have an “ice queen” character not be the villain. Anna I enjoy too. My only issue is in the song For the First Time in Forever, she says ‘totally’ too much. Gets annoying after a while. Olaf and Sven are good, they are not bad Disney sidekicks. In terms of songs, they are wonderful. Do You Want To Build a Snowman is such a beautiful but tragic song. The only song I’m not in love with is Fixer Upper, very much a filler. I find it funny that they make this movie look more like a comedy like Tangled. But actually it has a lot more drama. The film did take a lot of risks when you think about it. Most computer animated movies are just either kiddy comedies or buddy comedies. This breaks that trope and does an actual dramatic family story. Also, it’s a musical. Yes Tangled was a musical too, but it had less songs comparatively. This is like a broadway show, how many computer animated films are like that? The animation is quite stunning, you can tell that Disney has advanced their technology since Tangled. I just love the details of the snow, the buildings and the costumes. It’s like moving painting. Hans actually is not bad, but I would agree that he is no Mother Gothel. But what makes him good is that he truly is not what he seems. The score is actually pretty nice, better than Tangled. There is one piece of Frozen’s score that to me sounds very “Snow Queen” inspired. And that is when Anna first enters the Ice palace and talks to Elsa, I feel like that score is what I imagine what it would sound like musically going into a Snow Queen’s castle. It’s truly beautiful. And one final thought, Mayra shouldn’t have been criticized for her qualms about the film. If we are media students, we have to be critical thinkers. Just saying.

    • CascadeWvera1

      I agree with a lot of your points. However, I don’t think that Kristoff is quite a match for Flynn Rider considering that Kristoff was more of a third character than a secondary like Flynn.

  • Ranting Swede

    If you haven’t already seen this, Jennifer Lee was on the Scriptnotes podcast to discuss how Frozen was written http://johnaugust.com/2014/frozen-with-jennifer-lee. It’s 90 minutes long so there’s a transcript too. http://johnaugust.com/2014/scriptnotes-ep-128-frozen-with-jennifer-lee-transcript.
    Now, if you didn’t like the film, Jennifer Lee’s explanations will probably only come off as excuses for why this film was not a better one (according to your expectations). But it is an informative look at what it takes to write a film with a double twist in it for a certain audience, using certain tropes, and all within a span of 2 years.

    Most salient to Mayra’s arguments about how the filmmakers decided not to expand on Elsa or her relationship with Anna, Jennifer Lee’s reasons are that because they wanted to bait-and-switch romantic love for sisterly love, they could not tip their hand to the audience too quickly. To quote the podcast:

    “Jennifer: The reason it didn’t work where we put it is it gave away the ending. The minute you retied the girls together the movie was over. So, then –

    Aline: You need to keep that tension open.

    Jennifer: You had to keep it. And as soon as she thought about regret for her sister I knew the solution of the film was going to be her sister.”

    Perhaps Frozen would have been a better film if it had gone the Lilo and Stitch route and not tried to play with tropes. Perhaps Looper might have been better as a straightforward science fiction film instead of switching into a family drama halfway. Perhaps Pacific Rim should have been a thinky Evangelion-inspired drama. Perhaps perhaps perhaps. I personally prefer to see what the creator is trying to do with his/her work and then judge the success of the final product instead of imposing my expectations upon the work. If the final product is flawed but achieves the primary goals of the creator, then I consider the endeavor a success.

    If my comments sound preachy or confrontational, I do not mean them to be. I just think film criticism is inherently subjective, no matter how hard we might wish that it wasn’t. I can’t access Mayra’s expectations and demands of the film or the Disney studio and I don’t think this is from a position of lacking objectivity. I just think we have different ways of measuring success.

  • Rotototo

    Still the best Disney movie since The Lion King, regardless of these ‘faults’. Also the fact that you didn’t just LOVE Let it Go, a musical and animation masterpiece, completely invalidates your review for me. It’s all good though, since every movie isn’t made for everyone. Theres always haters.

  • Aliscen Khaw

    finally a view from the others side, while i mostly agree i had to say no for the animation, i thought it was rather nice the movements and reactions, but yeah they need to work on their texturing, they were trudging through snow but no one has snow on their feet, not even sven!(the only time you see the snow stuck on them is when they fall, hit or gets it blown to them). and they really need to work on their camera angle and pacing o.e. The last part with Elsa just dangling over anna crying was so WEIRD! i didn’t felt a shred of remorse unlike tangled, when flynn died, it was so good cause the camera angles were right!

  • Aliscen Khaw

    All and all i’m glad Frozen is such a huge success but i also hope Disney learns from this, no films are flawless. they may be box office hits but there is always much to learn and improve.Here’s to hoping the future movies from disney continues to improve and fascinate us! XD

  • Great review, Mayra! I recently saw this film and I too don’t know what to think of it. I mean, I do like it…but I definitely don’t love it and I feel that the first 20 minutes of this film was soooo much better than the rest. I need to watch this film once more to cement my opinions.

  • Meg

    I think as a person who actually just walked home from knee deep snow xD haha fun times…. the snow was really well done. I could tell when it was powdery or dense, it moved pretty realistically, and wow some shots they got the lighting on it so well it could have been a real picture of snow and I wouldn’t have known. I also really like watching the snowstorm towards the climax of the film. Though I do see where you’re coming from, it’s quite clear Disney likes to shy away from getting things dirty I think the snow is like Rapunzel’s hair. Wow it’s so nice and realistic looking and moves like hair but it never tangles or drags dirt and leaves from outside…how odd.
    Wow that snow moves like snow it’s crazy but I guess nobody has dirt on their shoes so it’s always clean and white… also odd.

  • Haley TheRadiant

    Well those are valet points but I still love Frozen to near death
    But I like someone else’s opinion! ^.^

    • That’s what it’s all about after all 😉

  • Jack

    I don’t agree (or remember) if the characters were verbally expressing everything. Can you give some examples?

  • Not Without

    Hi Mayra!! Welcome back. So happy to read this and so glad your original article cause a stir.

    I agree with everything you’ve written here. I didn’t get Idina’s voice at all, I understand the need/want for her to be in this, but I just didn’t buy it. I know they wanted cold and thoughtful, it was nothing like what Irene Bedard did with Pocahontas. I was however blown away by Ana, Hanz and Olaf. I thought the Troll’s voices were off-putting and there is something really off about the recording of Fixer-Upper…

    I’ve seen the film in both 3D and 2D. With the exception of the gorgeous opening the 3D added nothing.

    For me the worst animation was in the crowd scenes. Why even bother? They must have seriously cut costs there. I kinda remember during Prince of Egypt and Hunchback of how great care was taken in giving crowds life. Here it looks like SIMS. Seems like they could have cut out Marshmallow or Summertime Sequence or even the wolves and had a better crowd scene.

    I HATE the castle formation scene. I just didn’t understand if I was supposed to be impressed or what. The animation (to me) looked extremely rudimentary and much like very earlier un-rendered CG. Was I supposed to be impressed by the grandness (I wasn’t)?, Was I supposed to feel like she actually lived there?, Was I supposed to believe Elsa was being artistic..if so where did she get her influence? Where did she sleep and go to the bathroom?

    Overall, I wish we had more Elsa. I didn’t understand her real need for that beautiful ballad nor did I feel that bad/good for her. Why didn’t those Trolls just tell her what to do in the first place? Pretty nasty guys to let her go through all that trauma and pretend to be love experts.

  • Amymomof3girls

    I personally believe that the author of this article was being highly too critical.
    To the author: I’m not attacking you for your opinion. I fully believe in people expressing their opinions. This is my opinion.
    Frozen is an excellent movie. We got it on Digital HD yesterday (it’s on my IPad) + pre-ordered it on Amazon.
    Today was my daughters’ ninth time watching Frozen. They love it + it’s their favorite movie. We especially love Olaf and Let it Go. My eldest wants to marry Olaf when she’s older. All of them want ice powers.
    Before Frozen was out on Digital HD, we saw it eight times at the theater. Me, my three daughters (ages eleven, newly nine, and three), Auntie Lala (my sister), Auntie J (my sister), Aunt E (my sister), Cousin O (Aunt E’s daughter, age 4), Cousin H (Aunt E’s daughter, age 3), Cousin M (Auntie Lala’s daughter, age newly 3), Cousin C (Auntie Lala’s son, age 1), and Cousin J (Aunt E’s daughter, age nearly 6 months). We.love.it.
    I found the animation to be beautiful. The Snow DOES look like real snow. It’s fresh snow. It left footprints + was deep.
    We all loved the messages of sisterhood and true love.
    It’s ridiculous that people criticized OLAF. I just have to ask, what made you so annoyed by him at first?

  • shaunn

    Pretty much disagree with everything you wrote here, but I respect your opinion and appreciate the perspective. One thing on the snow: I’m presently at home in New Brunswick, Canada, looking out the window at about 2 meters of snow (that’s about 6’6″). It looks pretty much like its portrayed in the movie. I don’t think that they got that wrong at all. However, the movie did make some mistakes that are only possible from people who aren’t accustomed to really cold weather conditions. The most obvious was that the characters were not nearly cold enough given the apparent outside conditions. During the blizzard at the end, given how strong the wind was and how cold the place must have been for the palace to freeze, everyone (except Elsa) should have been desperately trying to keep from freezing on the spot. Hans should have had frostbite by the time Elsa stopped the storm and Kristoff should have needed to wrap his face. Similarly, Anna wandered around for several hours earlier in the film in clothing that was really inadequate to the conditions. One thing I will say about the depiction of snow: at the start, when the girls are playing in the ballroom, there is little sense that snow is wet and that it would soak both of them in no time. Of course, Elsa could have been controlling the moisture content of the snow and maybe even keeping them dry.

  • Quigley Quagmire

    Plot holes: Anna is definitely under 18 throughout the movie, since it is only a few days, and at maximum a few weeks, after Elsa’s 18th birthday. Firstly, she has now legal right to appoint anyone to be in charge of Arendelle (but she does that and everyone seems to obey her orders). Also, she is underage but wants to get married. Hans manages to trick everyone into believing that he got married to Anna. For such a marriage to be legal, Anna must have received permission from her parents or in this case her older sister. However, Elsa never signed any papers allowing her sister to be married. However, the merchants and all the castle guards recognize Hans as the lawful king of Arendelle. What? This movie is so confusing. Furthermore, for a few years, Arendelle has no king or queen. Shouldn’t there be some kind of administation though? Don’t they have laws that state what should happen in such occasions, so that the kingdom doesn’t collapse into complete anarchy?

    • Sparkle

      Anna is 18 according to Jennifer Lee (co-director). Also Frozen takes place in a Norweigian area where the marrying age is 18. Anna isn’t the youngest Disney Princess who wanted to get married. Snow White is only 14. All the Disney Princesses are in their ‘teen’ years (No one is older than 19 except for Elsa at 21).

    • Anonymous

      Uh, no. Anna is 18 years old in the film. She’s not underage to get married. During the 3 years between the death of the parents and Elsa’s coronation, the girls were teenagers and technically allowed to make their own decisions at this point.

      Regarding Hans, the film never once refered to Hans as King. All they mentioned was, “Arendelle looks to you.”

  • Lithia

    I don’t know. I respect this author’s opinion but I can think of several classics with unnecessary scenes, so I’m not sure of this is a big deal since there were some, but not TOO many.

  • Lithia

    Wow. Uh, I probably could have taken the criticism if the article wasn’t titled “Did I Put My Foot In It?” I mean… it’s not like the film is a disease or something.

  • noworriesfortherestofyourdays

    I think Frozen is amazing beyond words. And when people compare it to “The Lion King”, they mean this generations Lion King, which Frozen definitely, without doubt, is.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I can see Idina Menzel being a little…strong for Elsa. However, all the other voice actors did a very good job to me. Kristen Bell was perfect as Anna as was Josh Gad as Olaf. But, to each their own, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think that the wolf chase is a total loss. Plot wise, it kind of ties into the end where Anna gives Kristoff a new sled destroyed in in the wolf chase.

  • Keyblademaster123

    If you are always objective as you say then your objective view is wrong and your opinion. It’s pretty much subjective since it’s your opinion, but the real objective view of the movie is having a good story with very minor flaws, great characters, amazing animation and excellent music/score. Frozen is a great movie that deserves everything it gets and is on the levels of the classic that we grew up with. I grew up the the reinassance and will be hard on Disney as well when they don’t do well with a film. But this movie isn’t one of them and is one of their bests.

  • Magenta White

    Olaf: Personal Taste
    Music: Personal Taste
    Idina Menzel’s performance: Personal Taste
    Animation: REALLY?!