January 18, 2014

movie review: "Frozen"

First of all, you should know that the real star of the show is neither Anna nor Elsa, nor Hans the dastardly and possibly false prince of the South Isles, nor even Cristof the gallant backwoodsy iceman, but Olaf the gentle and guileless snowman.

There. That's my spoiler. Keep your eyes on Olaf and you'll enjoy the movie.

Second, the best part is the gorgeous ice graphics. That castle on the North Mountain? Pure art. I know, I know, that's where Elsa goes to escape/rebel (the movie seems to get its plot lines a bit tangled up here), but in the face of all that beauty, who cares whyshe's there?  From the staircase across the chasm to the chandelier that almost does her in, the ice castle is the stuff of dreams, whispering "crystals" and "diamonds" from every clear and glittering point.

Third, and what is meant to be the primary draw of the movie, is the lesson that while fear and anger destroy, love alone creates life. It was a brave and novel touch for Disney to use sister-love instead of romantic love. (Or was it? Maybe novel isn't actually all that courageous for the media.)

However, amongst all the eye candy and warm fuzzies, there were some problems.

First, I was apparently mistaken in my impression that a “G” rating meant small children had nothing to fear from a movie. Forget the slapstick comedic violence of early cartoons, all pitchforks and dynamite and falling boulders – today's animations have realistic faces (well, “realistic” if you can past the grotesquely gigantic eyes of the young female characters) that can show convincingly realistic fear and evil on their too-expressively drawn faces (Elsa seems to try for seductive, too, which in animation is not just ineffective; it's sick). The tiny tot in front of me, feet barely reaching the end of his seat, rocked back and forth against my knees rather violently during the scary snow-monster and angry-Elsa scenes.

Soooo … while I might watch it again when it's available on dvd (the better to memorize Olaf), I won't be showing it to my children.

Second, having no children along to monitor, I was more bothered by the lack of aesthetic integrity than the violence. While it appeared to be set in long-ago Russia (everyone knows that all fairy tales happened long ago & far away), the dialog was disturbingly modern, both in grammar (“I gotta...”) and idea (Elsa's rebellion against having to conceal her negative emotions turned her into a heartsick ice seductress - yeah, confusing). The music ranged from Russian chant (nicely done, I thought) to a rocky tune (during Hans' & Anna's romance scene). Not likely to bother the under-10 crowd, but not also not likely to educate them much about Russian culture.

Oh wait, entertainment is just supposed to use up our excess time, not inform …..

The long and the short of it: I had a blast. My friend and I saw Frozenin the nicest cinema I've been in since the Grand Canyon IMAX over a decade ago (it was the Penn Cinema on Airport Road, for you locals) … but that might not be saying much, since I go to movies maybeonce a year (far be it from me to let that prevent me from writing a review!). There were warm fuzzies and eye candy and a decent theme; it was the finale of a grand day spent with a delightful friend, who also bought the popcorn. 

 And, there was Olaf.

Memorable lines:

“Oh look, I'm impaled!” (Olaf, unconcerned, with trademark goofy smile)
“Some people are worth melting for.” (Olaf, stoking a fire for a dying Anna)

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