Like a majority of people today, I am a huge fan of Disney’s newest fairy tale, Frozen. I think the fact that I’m both huge Disney & Broadway fans helps with that. Even though it’s not as good as (but still, a really good step up and a good start) Beauty and the Beast and Lion King, it is still an excellent Disney classic, with the formulaic Disney storytelling. The fact that Disney casted some of my favorite Tony-winning/nominated Broadway stars (Idina Menzel & Santino Fontana, and huge shout outs to Tony nominees Josh Gad & Jonathan Groff) and have music, written by 2-time Tony-winning Book of Mormon lyricist & his wife, Robert and Kristin Anderson-Lopez makes my heart soar! In today’s animated movies, the casting is sadly “Who’s the most popular person?”. But, here with an exception of Kristen Bell & Alan Tudyk, the whole, entire cast is random Broadway people.
First, let’s talk about the history and the success: Frozen is the re-imaging of Hans Christian Anderson’s forgotten fairytale, The Snow Queen. Like Disney’s last, couple movies, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen took a very long time to make. How long? Ever since Walt Disney’s time, literally! Along with The
Little Mermaid and Rapunzel, The Snow Queen was one of the fairytales Walt Disney himself wanted to do. It started off as a short, which was a part of a series of shorts, like Fun and Fancy Free and Melody Time. However, the movie was cancelled. Walt still tried to pursuit these fairy tales anyway, but he could not figure out how to do The Snow Queen. That’s right! Walt Disney, one of the greatest story tellers of all time, didn’t know how to make a fairy tale work because of serious story problems. That’s not good. Ever since then, The Snow Queen was an on-and-off production, especially during the 90s and early 2000’s. It was even tried as a ride in Disneyland and a musical in Tokyo Disneyland, but surprise, surprise: They failed too. Finally, in the late 2000s (while Princess and the Frog & Rapunzel [which was its title until PATF did not do good at the box office] was in production), Disney decided to try out The Snow Queen again. They almost gave up due to the same story problems until someone spoke up: “What if they were sisters?” Finally, after years and years, Disney had a story. Instead of a little girl named Gerda rescuing her childhood friend named Kai from the evil Snow Queen (At Disney’s failing story, it was Princess Anna, trying to save her prince, who was ironically-wait for it-Hans from the evil Snow Queen), it’s now about a princess named Anna, trying to save her sister, the Snow Queen from herself. And thanks to the unexpected phenomenon, the movie’s theme song, Let It Go, Elsa was no longer the movie’s villain, but one of the most famous Disney heroines of all time.
Frozen was the success that literally came out of nowhere. To clarify, Tangled & Wreck-It Ralph were successful. Tangled made half what Frozen made with 500 million, & Wreck-It Ralph, which is due for a sequel, made almost as much as Tangled with 400 million. But, these two didn’t come close to Frozen‘s popularity and success. The Frozen marketing mainly focused on the sidekick characters, Olaf & Sven to attract little kids & the doting parents. The teaser, which only featured them, received negative attention from older people and Disney fans, not believing Disney would be responsible for a silly concept. The movie’s second trailer, finally featuring Anna, Kristoff, Hans & barely Elsa, had mixed reactions, being compared to Tangled and being accused of copying of it. With that being said, people knew it would be successful with Tangled & Wreck–It Ralph doing great. But, the world was in for a shock.
From Frozen’s release date to March 2014 (5 months), Frozen:
- Made a BILLION dollars worldwide, becoming the most highest-making animated movie & the 5th highest-grossing film of all time
- Became the first Walt Disney Animation Studios feature to win the Academy Award for Best Animation Feature. It also won that for the Golden Globes, but Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King won Golden Globes for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.
- Had the soundtrack #1 in the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks in a row, beating Beyonce for the top spot and it became Platinum
- Won an Academy Award for its theme song, Let It Go
- Already has a Broadway show in the works
- Has a ride in the works at Disney World, which is going to open late 2015/early 2016 and rumors are saying that it has a show in the works at Disneyland
- Had at first, critical acclaim, having the movie be compared to the Disney Renaissance
And with all of that success, it is easy to see why people reacted so strongly to Frozen. Additionally, the sisters storyline, the catchy songs, and the messages of love and what true love is praised by many. However, just like every popular thing, the “It’s so popular, it sucks” bandwagon started after the Academy Awards, starting an army of haters that has as many as Frozen fans. The haters call it out for poor storytelling, one-dimensional characters, and unmemorable songs. My brother liked Frozen, but actually said the same things. I also read some of the other problems people have from this movie, and actually, they made great points. More I watch the movie, more I do see some flaws. And sadly, a couple are serious flaws. So yes, Frozen is great, but it is not the big, perfect “best Disney movie ever” that some people are saying it is. Here are my 4 main problems with the movie:
1. The beginning
The first 8 minutes are well-done. The Vuelie is really gorgeous and the Disney Castle, transitioning from black to the music gives me chills. What a fantastic and magical way to open Frozen! Frozen Heart is also a great opening, foreshadowing the whole movie and setting up the mood. The scenes with little Elsa and Anna are well-constructed from Anna waking up her big sister to Elsa, knocking Anna unconscious and having their parents, taking them to the trolls. Here is where the beginning gets ruined: When the King and Queen decides to lock up Elsa for the rest of her life.
To begin, how the heck did the King & Queen get that idea anyway? The Grand Pabbie (The troll king) tells them that Elsa’s fears will be her demise. (I’ll get back to that shortly) What do they do? Lock her up! That makes everything much worse! Locking a kid up tells your kid that they are bad. Locking Elsa up results in her thinking that she is way too dangerous to be around. Additionally, the King doesn’t even teach Elsa how to control her powers. Even though “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show/them know” is an important part of the movie, you’re teaching her to be scared of feeling emotions! Yes, that saying does help with controlling your feelings, but you need to teach her daughter to keep her emotions normal as long as she controls her powers. Like no therapist or no teacher…in fact, why didn’t you make Pabbie teach her to how control the powers? Pabbie obviously knows a lot about the powers. Why couldn’t you get him to help her out?
What makes it worse is that the King doesn’t let Anna and Elsa see each other at all. Kudos to the Lopezes for making their second hit, Do You Want to Build a Snowman? powerful. Seeing Anna and Elsa separated when they want to play with each other is very heartbreaking and you just want Anna and Elsa to build that darn snowman. Back to the topic, why? What was the point of Elsa and Anna, being separated? Not letting Elsa have any contact with the outside world is totally understandable and smart. But, not letting Anna be with Elsa at all is ridiculous. Could Elsa not show her powers and be careful with Anna? I mean, Anna doesn’t know the powers exist! Either way, Anna would be totally safe. The things that she does during Snowman is way more dangerous than Elsa without her powers. Did Elsa even see her at all during those years? During dinners with her parents if she had any dinners, outside of her room? Christmas? Arendelle Day? Was the coronation party really the first time Anna and Elsa saw each other?
What would have made the beginning much better and powerful was if being locked in her room was all Elsa’s choice. If the King & the Queen made Elsa get out, her powers would activate and eventually giving her father a minor injury. Despite the therapies and the presents people give to bribe Elsa into getting out, Elsa would still be afraid to leave the room. Yes, it’d be highly unrealistic, but still better character developments and reasoning than the one we had.
P.S: Who ruled Arendelle while Elsa was waiting for 3 years to be queen?
Elsa is a favorite of fans and the people who like Frozen. She’s one of my favorites too, mainly because of Idina Menzel. Elsa also has a very strong character. Her goal in the movie is to control her powers and not to hurt anyone. As a result, she’s fearful throughout the whole movie. The only time adult Elsa is very happy during Let It Go. She’s finally free from her fears and pressures. She can be herself, let her powers go, and most importantly: Not hurt anybody. She sings how happy she is and how she can be whatever she wants to be without any judgments. Unfortuanely, my brother point this out: This is the only character development Elsa gets. After that, she is back to her fearful, fragile self again. That is fine because Anna is back and Elsa can easily hurt her, again. Now, this is the character development problem: Besides Let It Go, we never see her happy and free. We literally never see her do any fun activities or alone time at the castle like ice skating or painting trees with ice or making more dresses. So, how do we know that she is truly happy and free? This is an example of “Show, just don’t tell”. The time with the pointless scene we had with the shop owner, Oaken or the Fixer Upper scene could be made for character development for Elsa. So, my problem is not with the character of Elsa; she’s a wonderful character. It’s the time the writer, Jennifer Lee gave us with Elsa and how she gave her no development. The sad thing is if they stuck Elsa as the villain, we would probably have a more developed and interesting character.
I don’t hate Olaf, but I think he’s just an okay sidekick. Not like the Genie, Timon & Pumbaa, or even Ray from Princess and the Frog. The only problem that I have for him, which is major, is that there are way too many one-liners. A Disney sidekick has to be funny once in a while, but needs to be serious throughout the movie. The problem with Olaf is again, too many one-liners and funny sayings. The amount of the humorous lines is fine when we meet Olaf to establish the sidekick character, but most of the lines that he says is just for laughs. Again, he’s not horrible and he has a great role in the movie and a great meaning (He symbolizes the native nature little Anna & Elsa had and their friendship). One of my favorite scenes in the movie is him with Anna in the fireplace because it shows how mature and sweet he is. When Olaf just strokes Anna on the arm, I just melt. It’s so precious! But, I wish Jennifer Lee took him more seriously.
4. The ending/Duke of Weaselton (They’re #4 for a reason)
My problem is not the ending, itself. The ending had the most brilliant twists in a Disney movie. Prince Hans as the real villain is genius. Disney pretty much invented the Disney Prince with the pretty face and the dashing, charming character. So, the fact that the Prince Charming in a Disney movie is evil, is fresh and revolutionary in the Disney universe. It also sends out a realistic message to little girls that Prince Charming is not always the good guy. But, I do have some slight problems with it, which I will explain in a second. And of course, the act and the message of true love was phenomenal. The act of true love, as everyone knows was Anna saving her sister, Elsa from getting killed by Prince Hans by standing in front of Elsa. The message is that true love isn’t only man/girl, man/man, & girl/girl kissing. True love is just doing amazing things for your dear one, if it’s for a family member, friend, pet etc. However, the message isn’t that new to Disney. We saw this message in Disney/ABC’s Once Upon a Time, where the Evil Queen, Regina kisses her adopted son (and main character) Henry on the forehead to awake him from the curse he had.
Now, here is my biggest problem with the ending. The popular video, Everything Wrong With Frozen…, actually pointed this out after I noticed this:
- It would make sense for the Ice Harvester, falling in love with the Snow Queen. A guy, who loves ice & snow, would defientely marry a girl who has snow powers. That’s a perfect match! If I walked into the movie without knowing any of the characters, I would have guessed that Kristoff and Elsa would have been together at the end. Hans, as a good man, and Anna actually had great chemistry.
- Instead of Hans being evil, another great ending is if Anna and Hans (who ended up as a good guy) realized “Hey, Elsa and Kristoff are right. We are rushing things. Let’s spend more time together before getting married!” It’s great enough that another message of Frozen is that you can’t marry a person you just met (The 2007 hit Enchanted beat Frozen in doing this message), but it would be more awesome if Hans and Anna, being in love, realized this and postponed the wedding. Nevertheless, Anna did learn this. She and Kristoff never married, just kissed.
- My slight problem with the villain twist is that apparently, the animated next Disney fairy tale in 2016 is Jack and the Beanstalk…
…and according to Bleeding Cool.com (who has somehow gotten the plot), Jack will be a part of a love triangle with his childhood best friend, Angelina (the next Disney Princess?) and a *gasp* noble/prince named Marco. Couldn’t the evil prince plot be saved for Jack…ugh…Giants? The main hero is Jack, so we all want him to get the girl. By having an evil prince, things would be a lot easier for Jack and the plot. And we all already know that Jack and Angelina will get together. If they do the evil prince with Giants, Disney will be accused of copying from Frozen (which they, technically are right now with the love triangle.)
Now, let’s talk about casting for these three characters in Giants…
- Instead of Hans, the Duke really should have been the villain.
First off, the Duke was a very pointless character. Yes, he had a meaning, which was to be the red herring and hide the real villain from the audience. But, the Duke didn’t do anything at all. He wanted to take Arendelle’s goods, such as blankets and sell them for his profits. But, you don’t see the Duke do any of these evil actions. Like Elsa, show us, don’t tell us! The transition of him caring about Anna, when she was allegedly dead, came out of nowhere as well. We can see that he has a caring side, but yet he was just trying to murder Elsa! If they really wanted the Duke to be the red herring for Hans, they should have send the Duke up there. And instead of his body guards almost being killed by Elsa, we could had an “Elsa vs. Duke” showdown where the Duke tries to strike a deal with her about money and tries to kills her when she says no. That’d be a perfect way of using your red herring.
Or better yet: If Hans was good, have the Duke capture Elsa and strikes the deal with her. She would say no and he would burn her on the stake, like I predicted for the ending. My problem with the prophecy of Elsa’s fears is that you see Elsa getting killed by people. But, you don’t see that at the end. A big mob scene would be predictable, but heartbreaking.
Another emotional problem that I have with the ending is that throughout the movie, they were building up Olaf, melting. But, Olaf does not melt. As he was melting at the end, oh no problem: Here’s a snow cloud! What was the pointing of the melting dialogues if Olaf doesn’t actually melt? It would upset kids if he melts, but Elsa would bring him back. It still would be a emotional moment and a great payoff/finish to Olaf’s storyline.
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