Sunday, February 23, 2014

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

So yeah, Frozen. That's a thing that happened.

Spoilers Ahead.





Frozen is one of those weird experiences where half the things I outright loved and half the things I outright hated, and it comes together as an overall...decent film. I think at the end of the day I enjoyed it, but I think the "OHMYGODTHISISTHEGREATESTMOVIEI'VEEVERSEENINMYLIFE!" reaction I see a lot is a little undeserved.

I guess the biggest thing I have a hard time getting past (and I will say that this is my personal grudge and doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the film) - while the CG animation is utilized very well, especially for the ice effects, this just feels like it should have been a traditionally hand-drawn feature, and the aesthetic feels...wrong in CG. I wish I could explain it better.

I also have a difficult time with the songs. When I first saw this movie, I hated all but two of the songs. Repeated listenings have softened my opinion, and I appreciate it more now, but it's still not my favorite soundtrack of Disney's.

And of the two songs I always loved, I'm hesitant to include "Reindeers are Better than People," as that seems less of a musical number and more of a character moment. A great, hilarious, awesome character moment, but still. The one fully fledged musical number in the film that I loved from second 1 is, ironically, the one everyone is going gaga over: "Let it Go." I confess it's arguably the best song in the picture. It's the closest thing it has to a villain song, and it rocks it for all it's worth. Even then, though, I can't argue parallels to Wicked's "Defying Gravity" right down to Idena Menzel - and for some reason, both songs sound weirdly right sung in a Willem Dafoe Green Goblin voice.

What saves this movie for me, ultimately, is the story. It's really a well-done story that does some interesting twists with common Disney tropes - not to the extent it's lauded for, mind you, but it's a nice effort. Everything is subverted so subtly. I kind of guessed Hans would turn out to be villainous, but I can imagine being surprised if I wasn't so well-versed in how stories work and, to be honest, I started to let my guard down about halfway through. Olaf the Snowman was actually a pleasant surprise as well. The trailers made me feel he'd be a bit too much, but I decided to give him a chance once I found out that positive prequel referencer Josh Gad would be voicing him. I think I was sold with his cheerful delivery of the line "Oh look at that! I've been impaled!"

Again, at the end of the day, I did enjoy the flick. It's got a lot of good things going for it, and I would recommend it. But Disney has made better films that didn't get the recognition this one does, and that's hard to let go of.

9 comments:

  1. I adored the film, personally, though I agree 100% re: the animation itself. I've been very lukewarm towards CGI animation, and not because of anything to do with CGI itself (though it has unique limitations as a medium)- more that the way the films are animated nowadays, more focus and care is put into making everything as "realistic" as possible, and not actually the aesthetics and flow of the animation itself. Like, if you're gonna make everything look like it's in real life, what's the point of animating it in the first place?

    Love the score, though- there are a couple numbers that grate on me, but the score as a whole I'm immensely fond of. Have you listened to any of the composer demos? A good chunk of the cut songs count as my favorites of the score outright- "We Know Better" and "More Than Just the Spare" especially (plus I adore composer demos in general. There's something very raw and down-to-earth about hearing the creators perform their own songs, and though demos nowadays are way cleaner than the recorded-on-tape-marking-through-with-piano tracks I'm used to, there's still that exciting sense of something new coming through fruition. I love them. On a Disney note, the Ashman/Menken demos for their respective films are absolute *treasures*).

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    1. I got my wife the deluxe edition soundtrack for Valentine's Day, since it was an instant favorite with her. I didn't like any of the cut songs here, but I agree demos can be interesting. Listening to Ashman sing the BatB demos is a bittersweet experience.

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  2. I got to say, I enjoyed Frozen much more than your typical Disney princess film. I liked the fact that it strayed away from the formula and that it didn't make me feel uncomfortable like say "The Little Mermaid" sometimes did. But if you prefer the older films that's fine by me.

    Was it the best film everybody talks about? No, in fact, their are films I saw last year that impacted me on a much more substantial level, but it was fun.

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    1. Hey, don't knock LM. All things considered, it was beautifully done, though the endgame was a tad rushed.

      Ultimately, for Frozen, you summed up my thoughts nicely.

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    2. It's not really a criticism of the film itself but more on how some things the film presented made me feel. Which is purely my own experience, and nothing else.

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    3. I find LM to be the last truly great film the studio made in pure terms of animation, though I'm eh on it as a film. Score is great, though, and I'm a sucker for the Ashman/Menken "era", so to speak.

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    4. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. Beauty and the Beast tops it. And while you could argue story and pacing and whatnot for the following films, the animation itself keeps its extremely high quality through at least Tarzan.

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    5. I love Beauty and the Beast and consider it one of my all-time favorite Disney films to date...but I was shocked the last time I saw it to find the animation considerably lacking.

      I mean, the CGI scenes are gorgeous, but the actual animation suffers from the switch to digital techniques and it ends up looking too...clean, almost. I dunno, it's hard to really explain, but there's a tangible difference between LM and the films that followed in the method of animation, and I just don't think Disney's made anything *that* good in animation since, though they've obviously made some damned good looking films (Hunchback comes to mind, just from the little I've seen of it).

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