Thursday, December 12, 2013


Get out your ice blocks and reindeer, we're reviewing Frozen!

Anna (Idina Menzel) and Elsa (Kristen Bell) are sisters. Elsa has magical ice powers, but because of an accident, Anna doesn't know about them. When an incident occurs, Elsa runs away from her kingdom and her powers accidentally trigger an ongoing winter across the land. Anna must travel up a mountain to bring her back and save the kingdom! Maybe, with the help of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) the ice deliverer, his reindeer Sven, and an ice-magic-animated snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna can pull it off!

Um you guys. YOU GUYS! Frozen is pretty great. It's the best new Disney animation since the classics, and transcends even the greatness of those by being so forward thinking. Ugh. Go see it!

Let's go right ahead – Frozen is a fantastic story for women and young girls. It's the Disney princess movie that they needed in this new era of feminism and women establishing themselves as actual characters instead of objects that need saving. Without getting too much into spoiler territory, it's less of a story about a guy saving and falling for a girl and more of a story about the relationship between two sisters. It's a lot like last year's Brave, which is a mother-daughter story where all the men are secondary characters. This movie doesn't just pass the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests, it shatters them. And the sisters are full characters themselves! I love how normal, drooly, lazy, and obsessed with food Anna is. In a year she will be the new poster child for Tumblr. 

Of course, if your criticism is that there are no minorities in the movie, that is a very valid point. All the characters are as white as the snow the covers the land. So, that's still a problem. But, baby steps I guess. Ugh and that whole thing with the animators complaining that animating women is too hard and that's why the two main women look similar, well that's a terrible thing to say, but A) they are sisters, so it's not unheard of that they should look alike, and B) they are animated with much different characteristics and mannerisms. But they could have added more females just to give it more variety. Olaf could have easily been a woman. Having Kristoff as a woman would have been interesting. Maybe the Duke could have been a duchess? The two sisters still get the brunt of the screen-time and major character arcs, but there's no saying they had to have these male roles.

I feel like some people are going to wonder why it's SO important that we go so in depth about the women in an animated cartoon for children. And I think that is the answer right there! This is for children, and whether we want to or not, we are teaching them things through these movies. We taught whole generations of kids that the Damsel in Distress plot is a normal way of life, so much so that many adults today still see no problem with it, or why it's a problem to tell all girls they should be princesses and all boys they should be the heroes. Serious problems arise when, at a very young age, you teach kids that the proper way of falling in love is when a man saves a woman from some external or internal force.  So yeah, this stuff is kind of important.  Maybe I'll do a post about that in the future.

So anyways, the story of Frozen is really good and does a great job of pulling the rug from under the tired Damsel in Distress AND Love at First Sight tropes. The characters are fantastic. Anna is fun, and Elsa, along with being a fantastic singer, is a great parallel for anyone who feels they need to hide their true selves from society. Olaf is a ton of sappy love and not as annoying as you'd think. Kristoff is a really fun guy and I love how, instead of having his reindeer talk, he's so lonely that he talks for his reindeer. It's a great gag and pretty endearing. 

This is a full-on musical, not an animated movie with a few songs, and the songs are great! Very catchy tunes, especially Elsa's Let it go. It's one musical step up from Rapunzel. And the animation is really, really great. All the snow effects are killer, and they have an engine that produces snowflakes where no two are alike? So that's incredibly cool! (Pun intended) I love Elsa's snow effects and the creatures/buildings she makes. Really makes me want that Incredibles sequel, gosh darn it. Oh, and the 3D is pretty great. The Mickey short is a nice use of 2D vs. 3D, but I can't recommend it too highly because it DOES use the Damsel in Distress trope – so, frown-y face on that.

Frozen is a fantastically well done movie that breaks the Disney princess mold in a way that it really needs to be broken. Disney still has a long way to go until they've made something truly progressive, but this is a giant leap forward and a fun movie to boot.

THE GOOD: Great animation and snow effects, great characters, shatters Damsel in Distress trope among other tropes, great songs, fun and heart-warming story. 

THE BAD: Eh, could go farther with more women characters, no minorities. Mickey cartoon uses Damsel in Distress trope.

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ Go see it! In 3D! It's really great. Perfect movie for kids and young girls.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Rapunzel, Brave, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: There are two Arrested Development references in this. How is that a thing.

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