Hey friends. It’s about that time of the month that I feel the itch to produce some content. I had something else sort of in the tech sector planned for today, but I don’t want to be slow moving. Last time I checked, my blog is not Hidalgo, the first season of Mad Men, or anything having to do with Toby Maguire.
Figure 1: Toby exercising a right we all wish we had while watching his movies.
Now that I’m all warmed up for a movie review, let’s talk about Disney’s latest frigid family flick - Frozen . Delicate, spunky, timeless, and fun for the whole family, I couldn’t help but choose this movie to ruin with Internet conjecture and slander.
Let me prequel this with a resounding I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I think this is a great movie. At no point should my teasing be construed as an assault. If you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading this and get it.
SCIENCE! That's how.
The first things that hits you about this movie is the production value. They really don’t make animated movies like they used to – and I mean that wholly in a good way. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere in time Disney decided to supplement their historic tenderness with the scientific rigor of a particle accelerator. I’m no visual arts guy, but I could imagine the difficult undertaking of a movie set in a frozen tundra. The primary color is white . The running theme will be ice. How do you even draw an icecube? I can barely churn out one of those clever transparent cubes that everyone used to doodle in their textbooks in gradeschool, stopping well short of a glistening ice castle.
Figure 2: Something tells me the entry exam for Disney’s creative team will be a little more intense than this little number.
The bill was footed with a novel simulation algorithm straight from Disney’s labs known as material point method. I’m assuming this involves more than just a white crayon and some baking soda.
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But all zippy graphics and photoshop finesse aside, how was the plot? If we learned anything from Beowulf , the Star Wars prequels, and anything that has ever left the pen of Michael Bay, a good movie needs more than just good effects. You can be sure that Frozen will fill your fuzzy-feeling tank from beginning to end. At this point, there may not be such thing as a Disney movie that lacks a nostalgic vibe. With the digital freedom of a CGI film you wield the laser-guided harmony of music, voice acting, and visuals. It has ups, downs, laughs, and aww’s in all the right places.
Figure 3: Seriously? Just make a snowman with her already.
We can go deeper
Let’s go a little deeper. I’m going to warn you, we are going to start spoiling some eggs. I meant it – if you haven’t seen the movie, bookmark this and come back to it later.
I first took interest in Olaf the snowman. On first accounts, he fits snuggly into the Disney type of the comedy-driven ragdoll companion. This kind of character usually comes through in some key moment using sheer dumb luck to bail the hero out of a suspenseful bind, all while copping a few laughs with either an inflated ego or a speech impediment.
But has anyone else noticed how Disney sidekicks are getting younger? Let me explain. Take the movie Balto. If you don’t remember, Balto also had a wacky sidekick. His name was Boris, and he was a goose with an inflated sense of wisdom.
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At a quick glance, Boris pretty much fulfills a similar role. He gets a few laughs and helps his hero out. But take a closer examination at Boris. His jokes are exaggerated. They are predictable. Even though he is not really that funny judging by punchlines alone, you laugh at him the same way you would laugh at your grandpa. He’s just kind of a goofy character who redeems his stale sense of humor with delivery and charm.
Olaf, on the other hand, is quirky, random, and a little out of his element. That’s because he is pretty much a meme. He is your commonplace Internet forum urchin slapped in the middle of the forest. He is very articulate, but clumsy and not very physical.
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“I don’t have a skull… or bones.” This is not actually a joke. You only laugh because of the timing. This is Internet humor. The punchline, instead of climax, is an unspoken well that was awkward. This just goes to show you that Disney has been watching the pulse of what makes people laugh.
Remove this woman from my fridge.
Another departure from the traditional feel-gooder was the role of the women.
Let me first introduce the idea of the woman in the fridge . This is a metaphor that arose out of the comic book era. Initially, it was a chatroom joke in reference to a 1994 issue of The Green Latern in which the hero, Kyle Rayner, returns to his aparment to find his girlfriend murdered and literally stuffed into his refrigerator.
Figure 4: "Great scott, woman! Why aren't you cooking?"
The idea is that comics, in one way or another, were always just stuffing women into fridges. The only time you ever saw a woman in comic books was when we needed some quick access to suspense. It was almost like writers would just “grab a woman out of the fridge” when they needed to make things intense, much like you would grab ketchup out of your fridge to make your fries taste better.
An ideal fridge woman was the iconic Louis Lane. You only saw Louis Lane when Kent needed to look buff. Why do we care about this villian? It’s because Louis Lane is dangling over a shark tank.
The irony in this movie is so thick, you could chip it with an icepick. Frozen was the first Disney movie I have seen in a while to take the woman out of the fridge.
All signs up to the end of the movie seemed typical enough. The plot tension congealed on a moment when Elsa, the ice queen was grieving the accidental maming of her sister Anna. Hans, the nefarious prince trying to con his way into royal power raises his sword to slay Elsa in her grief as Anna, inches from death by “frozen heart” remedied only by a true act of love awaits a kiss of salvation from the heroic Kristoff.
“Here it is,” I thought. Kristoff is going to do some kind of sweet slide tackle and murder-kick the crap out of Hans. Anna will freeze over, but Kristoff will make out with her anyway. A little red glow will well up inside Anna’s chest, and she will promptly thaw into Kristoff’s arms.”
But I couldn’t have been more wrong! To my delight, Anna abandoned Kristoff’s efforts and, in a last pang of strength, steps in front of Hans’ death blow just before icing over into a statue. Hans it knocked back by the mystical ice powers. Before this, Disney had my curiosity. Now, dear reader, they had my attention.
To my amazement, Anna began to thaw, and Kristoff wasn’t even in the picture. That’s when it finally dawned on me. The act of love needed to thaw Anna was her own act of saving her sister. Talk about removing a woman from the fridge – Kristoff wasn’t even necessary in the most important part of the film.
I don’t want to get full blown feminist here, but this is an important precedent. I commend Disney for their artistic participation in the movement to empower women. I won’t pretend to know much about what pre teen girls go through, but I can’t imagine the message of wait until your prince makes your life meaningful helps at all. But an example of sisterly love saving the day? That’s priceless.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you are a strong, powerful woman who don’t need no man.
So that’s my take on Frozen. Disney spends an extra buck or two on a new, fancy snow-simulating algorithm to empower young women and, hopefully, remove them from the fridge once and for all. I’d say that was a buck well spent, Disney.
Rewriting this thing
Now as tradition, I’d like to offer my own artistic re rendering of the ending. I’m going to warn you – it’s very violent. It is not recommended if you are a child, pregnant, taking heart-medication, or somehow all three. I’m not proposing this would fix the movie in the same way I wrote an ending for The Vow (read here ). This is purely fan fiction at this point merely meant to enhance your experience.
Let me cue up my scene. Elsa is knelt at the feet of Hans, who is seconds from lopping off her head. Anna is nearly frozen, and it is clear that Kristoff is not going to reach her in time to do anything. Aaaaaaaaaaaand ACTION.
Hans' blade falls swiftly upon Elsa. Anna falls to her knees, ice below her pooling with her fallen sister's thin, cold blood. She is now truly as cold as ice, and with nothing to fight for, she surrenders a final whisp of breath before succumbing to a frozen coffin. Kristoff continues running, and bewildered by rage, knocks Hans to the ground. There is a scuffle, but it is clear that Hans has more upper body strength. He flips the boyish Kristoff on his back and claws for his sword. "I've wahn. Nahw, I will breeeeak you," Hans growls deeply in an uncharacteristic Russian accent. He sinks the blade deep into Kristoff's heart, but just before Hans can languish in his victory, he begins to feel the ground shake. He peers up to Anna.
Her once stone cold figure is now smoldering. A deep crimson begins to glow, fester, and melt away the ice. Small flames begin to lick from her finger tips, as devilish eyes pry wide with the wild hunger.
"You may have somehow broken the curse," squeeled Hans. "But you will never take back your kingdom with all the love in your heart." Anna spoke calmly with a still voice.
"Oh, not love Mr. Hans. Not love at all." Hans furrowed his brow and peered at Anna. He was trepidating now.
"RAGE." Anna exploded with the fury of a star. Hans was caught up in a brilliant flame and vaporized instantly. Anna closed her eyes and released the most hellish heat that anyone had ever witnessed. As her symphony of fiery chaos subsided, she slumped back to the ground. Ash fell around her feet as the sound of helicopter blades began to roar over her shoulder.
"Ve hahve you suuurownded. Der ihs noooo escahpe," hollared an army man over a megaphone. Anna flung herself around and let forth another flame, sending the helicopter crashing into the ground. But before Anna could let fly another, she felt the arid sting of a sniper rifle bullet rip through the flesh of her shoulder. Anna tumbled to the ground.
Anna awoke in a cold metal room. It was her prison cell. There, she would remain for several years in darkness, priscinding.
Until one day, her door was opened. Several guards in flame-retardant hazmat suits escorted Anna to a quiet room that she had never scene before. There she saw a small, bald man seated politely in a wheel chair.
"I didn't expect to get any visitors. Everyone I know is dead." said Anna, trying to conceal her curiosity.
"I know about you, Anna." said the stranger. "You have an amazing… gift."
"A gift? HA." retorted Anna sharply. "Tell that to everyone I killed in the blast in my home town. I'm a monster. I'm a murderer! I'm a…"
"A mutant?" finished the old man. Anna was in tears now. The stranger wheeled closer to Anna and placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Anna, my name is Professor Xavier. I have a school for gifted people like you. It is a sanctuary for mutants like you and me. There, I wish to groom your abilities into something special. Come with me."
Music heightens as the camera spins out. The movie theater erupts with applause.