At first I was dead set against seeing this movie. I didn’t like that Disney took The Snow Queen, a very woman-centric story, and was like “LOOK AT ALL THE BOYS WE’RE ADDING TO IT!” and the head animator thinks that animating women is hard because women are SO EMOTIONAL and I was just like “movie, I am so done with you.”
But then I read someone else’s spoiler-tastic review, and suddenly I was just like “O_o really?” and I said “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.”
Frozen probably won’t win the “most faithful adaptation of a fairy tale ever” award, but it’s still a great movie.
The story centers around two sisters who are princesses of the Kingdom of Arendelle, the older, Elsa, has the power to create ice and snow. After accidentally injuring Anna while playing one morning, their parents have a troll seal away all of Anna’s memories of Elsa’s magic, and resolve to isolate Elsa from the rest of the world–including her sister. When the king and queen die and Elsa accidentally reveals her powers, she flees into the mountains, and it’s up to Anna, the mountain man Kristoff, and a lovable snowman named Olaf to find her and free Arendelle from endless winter.
Let’s start with the good, shall we? I shouldn’t really even bother with discussing the animation because, it’s Disney and Disney does animation like no other
except when it comes to animating multiple female characters, apparently but oh my gods the snow and ice is just so shimmery and sparkly and I love the landscape shots. If you like the colour blue, you will love this movie, because there’s lots of blue.
In terms of characters, the most obvious comparison is between Anna and Rapunzel from Tangled. They spend the beginning of the movie cut off from the outside world, but I found Anna to be much more “whee!” than Rapunzel, she’s very awkward and bubbly and hopelessly naive, you know, like Rapunzel, but in the end I found her way more likeable than Tangled’s lead. In fact, Frozen has a cast of likeable characters. I usually loathe the obligatory non-human comic relief character, but Olaf is just adorable (“I like warm hugs!”) even Sven, Kristoff’s reindeer companion, is likeable even though Disney has this annoying habit of making all animals act like dogs for some reason. Seriously, Disney, kids know what reindeer are, knock it off.
Thematically, the movie is about sisterhood, self-acceptance, and, well, being yourself, and the power of love, love is very important. Elsa’s song “Let it Go” is
Oscar bait an epic number that charts Elsa’s journey from self-loathing to “I AM SO AWESOME WHO CARES WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS!” it can also be re-imagined as a coming-out song in the space of a few minutes. It’s one of the most magical moments in the movie. I also liked “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” which started off being really sweet and then took a turn for the sad.
I also liked how it poked fun of and utterly subverted common romance tropes (and, for a Disney movie, this is pretty big). An early example is of Anna accepting a marriage proposal from the dashing Prince Hans after only knowing him for a day. Elsa is, shall we say, less than pleased, and Kristoff milks it for all it’s worth. Frozen isn’t afraid to throw the viewer a few curve balls either, and there were a couple of times during the movie where I was kicked squarely in the FEELS.
SO. MANY. FEELS.
Now onto the not-so-great parts. We do have POCs–as crowd members who have no speaking parts–and Kristoff is apparently Saami….except you wouldn’t know that from the movie itself and apparently his costume has garnered some ire from actual Saami so I’m just going to go ahead and say that he doesn’t actually count as representation. I’ve already mentioned the sexism and the reindeer-as-dogs thing. Some reviews have stated that the romance feels shoehorned in at the end, and it kind of does, but on the other hand, I kind of expected as much. Seriously, it’s like Disney implodes if they don’t stick a romance in somewhere.
Overall, if you don’t mind the racefails, the sexist animators, and think of it not as “Disney mangles the Snow Queen” but “Disney tries something original” Frozen is a pleasant surprise with great musical numbers, lovable characters, and outright subversion of seriously annoying romantic tropes.
Also you can read Elsa’s ice powers as a metaphor for being queer.