Movie Review of Disney's Frozen: We Need to Let it Go
How do you feel about Frozen?
"Let it Go"
"For the First Time in Forever"
We'll Start on a Good Note: The Music
"Let it Go" is one of the reasons why this movie is so beloved by everyone around the world. I agree, it's a fantastic song about embracing freedom and individuality, and seeing beauty within yourself instead of imperfections. Elsa and Anna, voiced by Broadway regulars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell respectively, sing amazingly both together for their harmonies and during their solo parts. The emotional resonance of the songs is really what sets this music apart from other films and gives it the lasting impression it has had on all of us. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" also tugged on everyone's heartstrings, as it basically narrates the story of how Anna and Elsa grew up together before and after the ice accident.
While Elsa and Anna's songs were fantastic, some of the other songs could have stood to be taken out. The one sung by the trolls went on entirely too long, especially since it had nothing to do with the story. Anyone who watched the movie for two minutes could have guessed that (SPOILER ALERT) Kristoff and Anna would end up together, so why do we need to hear Kristoff's adopted troll family sing about it for what felt like an hour?
I will give it to Olaf, though, for his song "Summer." No one with a heart can resist it.
The Two Protagonists
Frozen is based on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen," and Elsa was originally supposed to be the villain of the story. It wasn't until later that the idea for her to be a protagonist and be Anna's sister was developed. It's been recently reported from Disney animators that Elsa was intended to be the portrayal of depression, as the psychological disorder would have gone hand-in-hand with her situation in the film. Despite that, her on-screen transformation left much to be desired. She changes - literally - in her castle by throwing away her crown (her official abdication of the Arendelle throne and embracing her new image) and her coronation gown melting to the baby blue number she wears the majority of the movie. Other than her geographical relocation from the bottom of her kingdom to the top of the mountain, she changes very little. She still fears herself for the safety of others and feels powerless against her magic when Anna shows up to help her. And, despite the troll's warning when she was young, she succumbs to her magic's carnal side in her efforts of self-defense and isolation. She only realizes that she has complete control over her ice when Anna is frozen solid, which sparked a sudden understanding that the audience knew about an hour and a half before that. In addition, "Let it Go," her ballad about finally achieving freedom with her powers, is completely unraveled as soon as her sister shows up. If she spent all that time up in her ice castle by herself, what was she doing up there? Why didn't she practice her powers? Since her fears were rooted in harming others, what more perfect opportunity could she have to finally unleash her own potential than when she's removed from everyone and completely on her own? She unnecessarily panics when Anna shows up, with the best of intentions, and her lack of social skills prevent her and her sister from effective and positive communication.
Desperate for companionship and attention, the young Princess of Arendelle is a classic case of Disney romance: love at first sight with a gorgeous prince and they plan to marry after the thorough five minutes they've known one another. Her tragic abandonment - permanently by the death of her parents, more painfully by her live-and-well sister - makes her vulnerable and somewhat reckless. She entrusts a less than civilized ice harvester and his pet reindeer to take her up the mountain for her sister whom she loves more than anything, when in reality the movie made it seem like they spoke two sentences to each other over the span of around 15 years. Family is important, especially when it's all you have left, but Anna and Elsa's strained relationship proved that only after it seems like it's too late will people rush to help you and recognize the error of their ways. They were both naïve in the face of familial love and so they were unable to handle the situation in the most effective way, leaving little Anna in her blissful ignorance and Elsa in her cloud of aloneness. Anna needed protection from the only person who ended up being the one to hurt her. She was a hopeless romantic who did stupid things and followed someone around blindly until it nearly killed her - except it wasn't a guy, it was her sister.
I hate when I watch a movie and I repeatedly say "Why didn't they just do xyz?" and come up with a solution for the conflict that makes more sense and a better story. I can't even count the number of times I asked that during this movie.
Two sisters, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa of Arendelle, struggle to keep each other and their kingdom alive when the secret that Elsa has special ice powers is revealed at her coronation party. She flees to the mountains and creates a safe haven for herself, but Anna is determined to help her sister when she realizes why she's been locked away all her life. Anna befriends Kristoff, one of the ice harvesters of Arendelle whose adopted troll family proves useful, his reindeer Sven, and Elsa's childhood snowman creation Olaf, and they all try to help Elsa and unfreeze the kingdom before it's too late.
Overall, the story felt rushed. The priority of the film was clearly to get it to theaters ASAP rather than develop the plot, conflict, or characters any further than necessary. Frankly, the film could have been improved significantly with more time on the story boards.
I'm just going to say it: the parents are the real villains in this movie.
In what universe does it make sense to ostracize someone for something they cannot control, but can learn to control? If Elsa was born with her power, as it stated in the film, why would her parents lock her up in a bedroom instead of seeking out assistance for their daughter? As the king and queen of the kingdom, her parents could have easily found a teacher - even if it was a troll - to help their daughter with her powers so that the elder troll's warning did not manifest itself in the future. Her father chanted "conceal, don't feel, don't let them know" to her so many times that she was convinced that her powers were a curse instead of a blessing. They made her feel like there was something wrong with her, which as we all know, is humankind's reaction to anything we don't understand. This story isn't supposed to reflect the old solution of sending a child away for the sake of safety; if the king and queen's way of dealing with things was to ignore them, then their kingdom would surely have been doomed. They instilled in Elsa a sense of regret, embarrassment, and shame, feelings that stayed with her almost the entire movie.
Furthermore, why wasn't Anna allowed to know about Elsa's secret? Who could that have hurt? If Anna unconditionally loved her sister, and accepted her powers before, why would that change in their adolescence? The movie's overall theme is that sisterhood is an unbreakable bond, so getting to that point a little faster would have saved everyone time and money. Anna didn't mind that her sister had this power when she found out, even after she had seen the destruction and chaos it caused.
Elsa was so obsessed with keeping Anna safe that she turned out to be the only threat to her sister at all, and the less everyone meddled in Anna's life, the better off she was. If she had powers to counteract her sister's - not necessarily fire powers, but something magical - then the movie would have been so much better, like if the troll gave Anna powers in the beginning instead of erasing her memory. Then we actually would've seen a movie about sisters, not two strangers who happened to come from the same parents try to understand each other in an angsty "I'm right, just listen to me" sort of way.
It Could've Been Better
Frozen will definitely maintain its status among contemporary audiences as one of the best Disney animated films, but I will not be one of those who boasts that opinion. It was okay for normal standards, low for Disney's. It just could've been such a better movie had more time and effort been put into it to be great.
Of course, that doesn't stop people from making it out as the best movie of all time. The movie isn't horrible, but let's see it for what it really is: a subpar film.
Personally, I think everyone should just let it go.