With the start of a new year and a new iteration of the forums, it’s time to start a new round of movie reviews. The first one will be a movie that has been in the theaters for over two months now and is going strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still in the theaters pretty close to the DVD release date on March 18, 2014.
Last year, I had said that Pixar had been doing better than Disney because Pixar tells original stories while Disney re-tells other people’s stories or its own stories. Well, the purchase of Pixar and putting John Lasseter in charge of pretty much all animation at Disney has paid off. This might be an interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but Frozen just passed Finding Nemo as the highest-grossing original animated film. Disney is now doing not just something right, but many things right.
If you haven’t seen this fim yet, see it. Beyond the typical 3D and standard versions, there’s another choice that you’ll want to factor in, which I’ll cover at the end. It’s worth seeing in the theaters, and I don’t feel that way about most films. I’ll go to a few of them, but I’m mostly happy to wait until they’re out on DVD. Today was the second time I’ve watched it and I immediately went out to get the soundtrack. I will be buying the deluxe soundtrack shortly.
Now, if you haven’t watched this movie, skip to the end of this review. While the details I’m about to share aren’t anything you can’t learn by going to Wikipedia or any other review site, you will enjoy it more.
The film starts off with princesses Anna and Elsa playing in the snowfall that Elsa is able to magically create. But an accident results in having to erase most of Anna’s memories, leaving her wondering why her sister now avoids her. In a misguided attempt to protect their daughters, her parents isolate the family from the rest of the kingdom and teach Elsa to repress all emotion and to never use her powers, instead of learning to control them as they had been advised. Okay, technically that’s a form of control, but it doesn’t work so well.
Anna keeps reaching out to Elsa through the perpetually shut door, but to no avail. The years pass, and I don’t know how Anna remains cheerful and optimistic for so long, but eventually she just about gives up.
A few years after the death of their parents, Elsa becomes queen. The coronation day starts off fairly smoothly with Elsa doing her best to keep control. But she’s overwhelmed by the number of people and Anna’s sudden romance, loses control and flees into the mountains. The kingdom is immersed in snow as she leaves. Anna goes out after her.
It’s during her trek deep into the mountains that Elsa has a revelation: she’s free to use her powers. She learns very quickly and the results of specular and beautiful. She also gives herself a new outfit, hinting at a power to control materials like fabric on a molecular level.
As Anna searches for Elsa, she meets up with Kristoff, who has a very strong bond with his reindeer, Sven. Thankfully, Disney avoided having Sven talk, though he is intelligent enough to know exactly what is going on. Some of what he would have said is taken up by Kristoff and some by Olaf the snowman. There’s a genuine innocence and sincerity in Olaf that makes him a really likable character.
They do find Elsa and are also awestruck by what she’s made. But she’s still afraid of hurting Anna and accidentally does so again. It’s then a race to save Anna as the other search party catches up to Elsa.
Will Anna be saved? Will she reconcile with her sister? Will Olaf learn “whatever snow does when it’s summer”?
It’s a Disney film. The answer is yes on all counts, but see the film to see exactly how.
I realize that’s kind of a lot of detail about what happens in the first half of the movie and suddenly cuts off, but that helps me tie into the fan response to this movie. One of the reviews said that it seemed like a few of the songs were kind of forced into the movie because it was locked into being a musical. But many people have noted the lack of songs in the final act. More specifically, the lack of an answer by Elsa to the question of “Do you want to build a snowman?”
Having just watched the movie again, I think putting another song at the end of the movie would have been a mistake. But what the fans have come up with to provide that answer are really good. Some immediately follow Anna’s question. Some are for the end of the movie. They’re worth hearing, but don’t watch the videos if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t watch them unless you have some tissues at hand.
Yesterday, I tried to find again the official video for Do You Want To Build A Snowman? and I can’t find it any more. I think it’s been completely obliterated by the response to Elsa’s anthemn, Let It Go. There’s at least two official Disney channels on YouTube, but for the Disneyanimation and DisneyMusicVEVO channels, that video has been watched over 72 millions times in the past two months, or about 1.2 million times per day.
The movie has done so well with Golden Globe, Annie and Critics’ Choice awards and Academy, BAFTA and Satellite award nominations that they just released a special singalong version in theaters. I might go back and see it again next weekend just so I can enjoy the audience singing along with the song. Here’s “Let It Go” in the singalong version, and the version where they include all 25 languages the movie’s been released in.
After hearing that, there’s almost no need for the version that Demi Lovato sings. The Idina Menzel version is so powerful, but Demi’s version is a little longer and has some extra lyrics, so it helps fill out the credits.
If you need any more incentive to go see this movie, there’s discussions going on about adapting it to a Broadway musical. That’s a good sign. You may also catch the performances by Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weaseltown (“that’s Westleton!”) and screenwriter Jessica Lee as the queen.
I said it before. I’ll say it again. See this movie.
And if you’ve got Disney Infinity, get the Frozen Toy Box set. The grappling hook and shovel that Anna uses are a pretty good pair of weapons, and Elsa’s snow powers can freeze the enemies in mid-air. You’ll also get the texture set and sky set that will turn the toy box into the winter kingdom of Arendelle.