The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is so beautiful. Both visually and story-wise…
I’m trying to be less excited about this movie because…well, it’s a big budget Hollywood movie…but I love this type of movie where it’s essentially a figure-it-out type of plot. The hero needs to make decisions and commit to a possibly flawed premise but is inherently smart enough (by inherently, I mean that nowadays, we’re pretty aware that to become an astronaut you have to be pretty freaking intelligent in the traditional study-your-ass-off sense, smart in a think-on-your-feet way, cool under pressure, confident but not arrogant, etc…because a deficient of any of those things could kill you and others) for a low-probability end goal to seem a bit possible, which is vital for me to root for him…I just don’t want the movie to be…dumb… 😛 .
“Don’t be overconfident.” — Grandpa, 3 Ninjas
From the ending of “Ratatouille”, Anton Ego’s review of Gusteau’s:
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.”
So I saw “Frozen”. I liked it overall. I think most people don’t actually like every single thing about everything they like. Occasionally, when I talk about things I enjoy, I feel like I have to disclaimer it ad nauseum with something along the lines of “But really, I do like it.” :-P. My observations sometimes sound like criticism. So yeah, I do actually like “Frozen”…
I like that it was ultimately about Elsa and Anna. I also appreciate that they were both the type of people that are driven by love. It would have been so/too easy and angsty and dramatic for Elsa, who grew up in the grip of fear and restraint, to have descended into madness or bitter resentment against Anna and/or her parents. When she’s exposed and driven away (or ran away, depending on your perspective), Elsa was so relieved to finally be able to breath…but she assumed that the trade-off was to be forever separated from Anna. It makes a lot of sense to me that, in her head, Elsa equates Anna with the prison that she’s been in since she was a child since her own motivation to hide herself stemmed from Anna…and yet her conversation with Anna was still from the point of view of protection. I love that Elsa loved Anna so much. And that Anna loved Elsa just as much. Without even understanding what was going on (and we were never really given indications of how their parents explained Elsa’s sequestration), Anna tried and tried and kept trying to reach Elsa. Like with Elsa, I’m so impressed with Anna’s tendency to approach the situation with love instead of bitterness. Again, I feel like it would have been so easy for Anna to grow to blame Elsa for her own isolation. It wasn’t really clear to me why keeping Elsa away from everyone (which I have issues with) meant that Anna was also shut away from the world. But even if that’s the only world Anna remembers, she was fully aware of her parents, possibly the household staff, generally that there was an outside world, but particularly of her elusive sister. After their parents’ death, it must have taken so much not to hate Elsa for not being…there…for her and also, not allowing Anna to be there for her either. I just really like that it seems that both of the main characters in “Frozen” seem to be good people, predisposed to thinking good of other people. I don’t believe that Elsa was actually afraid that she’d be ostracized. Maybe that was a consideration but only as a side effect. I think her primary motivation was fear of HURTING Anna and people. Anna was obviously confused by Elsa but when everything unraveled, her thoughts were immediately that she had provoked Elsa and that Elsa had obviously not meant to hurt anyone. That kind of mutual love and protection is just awesome (and that’s just aside from Elsa’s reaction to getting captured and learning about Anna in danger, and Anna’s actions at the end).
I do think that there were plot holes or weakness. For me, the lack of consequence for Anna finding out about Elsa’s powers was a little confusing. The rock trolls made such a big deal about how Anna should never find out about Elsa’s abilities that their parents essentially locked Elsa away, emphasizing so much the importance of restraint that Elsa took their words as gospel for much of her life…and when Elsa lost control at the ball, I didn’t notice any particular direct effect on Anna…which makes me kind of mad that Elsa was sequestered for so long. I get that maybe magic and powers were frowned upon…maybe? I wasn’t too sure about that either. But it was really grating to me that the trolls, whom Elsa and Anna’s parents trusted in matters involving magic, recommended keeping Elsa’s powers hidden and away from Anna instead of helping Elsa learn to control them. Obviously her powers weren’t going away so she should learn about them. Right? It kind of really bugged me. All of this is from my perspective that Anna actually just finding out about Elsa’s powers did not seem to actually have any effect. And I’m sympathetic to their parents too. They never seemed to blame Elsa even immediately after the accident. They didn’t leave her at home, alone and devastated, when they raced to the trolls and they seemed to believe they were also helping Elsa. Again, I appreciate the feeling that they were good people trying to do what’s right but it’s hard to know 100% what’s right (Parenting 101). Anyway, all in all, I think I was mostly confused by what exactly Elsa’s power does to a person. I wasn’t too bothered by the vague-ness because the film seemed to be directed towards a younger audience, which is fine, but I think a little more thought about some of the details and how those details were being portrayed would have elevated the movie.
Moving on! I was really surprised by the jolt of energy that was Kristoff’s entrance. The adult version. I liked how…sassy…he was :-P. He was really funny. Kind of sardonic. It was nice how he was sarcastic but not roguish or meant to be charming in any way. Similarly, I was surprised at how much I liked Olaf. I thought he would be annoyingly like Jar Jar Binks…I’m so glad I was wrong because I really like how sweet and optimistic he was. I think it helped that he was introduced at almost the same time as Kristoff. I also like how he was created by Elsa (probably inadvertently…like most things Elsa does :-P) and loves Anna so unconditionally. I feel like that’s just how Elsa made him. I usually have issues with TV shows or movies that tell you who you should like because often they don’t show you why you should like them. I felt that Anna is an exception. Almost everyone in the movie loves her but I never really felt like she didn’t deserve that love…again, I felt like she was a good person who didn’t jump to conclusions and actually tried to see good in other people and at the same time, she didn’t seem like a naive, brainless idiot. Amazing :-P.
I do wish there was a little more complexity in the story. This sort of relates to how possibly too subtle some plot points were. I really wish Hans hadn’t been bad. Maybe I just wasn’t noticing little things but I felt like the plot twist was too out of the blue. It’s nice that Hans had a Plan A through E but at the same time, I think he could have easily accomplished his goal at earlier points in the movie…and more simply as well. Also, I know this is a Disney film so true love’s kiss is kind of a thing. It would have kind of been a nice subversion to have Anna make it all the way back to the palace, to Hans, and have him kiss her…and have that not work. At that point, ok, maybe Hans could be revealed to be evil and gloat but having him monologue beforehand just seemed…unnecessary since he could have kissed her and legitimately just waited for her to die or something. (Am I misunderstanding the true love’s kiss trope? True love traditionally implies requited, right?) Also, if he were sadistic, he could have just shrugged and gone with being confused…and legitimately waited for her to die. So I didn’t really like how they did the plot twist but also don’t like that the plot twist was there. He could have just been a really nice guy who found someone he had a lot in common with and thought he was in love…like Anna did. He was great at running the kingdom while she was gone (yes, that was apparently a part of his master plan but it doesn’t have to be. Plus competency is very attractive :-P). And sometimes you just don’t fall in love with the great guy. I mean, not that Kristoff isn’t great but he’s a bit more prickly than Hans and probably doesn’t know how to run a kingdom :-P. When you fall in love, you often don’t get to chose who and how. Hans was the fairytale and Kristoff was the reality. And you know what? As the movie stood before Hans was revealed as evil, I think most people would have chosen Kristoff anyway. Also, sometimes you wind up hurting someone unintentionally. So yeah. I’m not sure if that would have all detracted from the story (because again, I do like the focus on the sisters’ relationship) but I just wish the plot twist didn’t feel like a means to a nice, bow-tied ending where Anna realized Kristoff is a potential partner partly because Hans was evil and Hans deserved to be shipped off because he was evil instead of having a good person not have a happy ending. Speaking of which, I love that Elsa’s story did not involve a guy or a traditional love story. Her story (and Anna’s) was about self-discovery and self-empowerment and that doesn’t HAVE to include romantic love. It can, as Anna’s parallel story shows, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t have to.
So there. My really long-winded thoughts on “Frozen”. Other than movie and character stuff, I really enjoyed the voice acting (Kristen Bell! Idina Menzel! Alan Tudyk was the duke! Jonathan Groff! Josh Gad! Santino Fontana! And many others!). I liked that the voice actors also did the singing (I think?). Obviously Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad could sing but I didn’t know who Santino Fontana was and I really enjoyed Hans’ singing and voice acting. Also, I knew Kristen Bell could sing because I love Veronica Mars but I didn’t know she could actually sing. I think musical songs are a different animal and especially songs that have voice acting bits in it and…I don’t know. I was just impressed :-).
Anyway, I liked it.