“Tonic also aided in animating fur and hair elements such as Elsa’s hair, which contains 420,000 computer-generated threads, while the average number for a real human being is only 100,000.” This sentence reminded me of an old Monty Python sketch dealing with a production of Scott of the Antarctic in which a producer – Eric Idle – has a line: “Well, we have 28,000 cubic feet of Wintrex, which is a new white foam rubber which actually on screen looks more like snow than snow”. Can’t help myself.
Still, Frozen made fuckin’ billion dollars and I doubt it won’t make more as the time progresses. True, it is a Disney princess movie so that kind of (monetary) success is sort to be expected. Sad part, though, is that it’s actually not that good. What does that even mean – “it’s not that good”? Is there some “goodness” that lies outside the scope of box office paradigm if we are aware that Disney was always an industry player and as such he played by industry rules? If the product produces desired effect (i.e. profit) then it can’t possibly be bad. One can’t argue with that logic – unless one point out that something must always strive to earn n+1 instead of an n. So the real question in this sense isn’t a question of “goodness”. The real question is more along the lines of “could it have been better”.
Never mind that line of inquiry for now. Let’s try something else. What did I like here? It’s been a long time since I watched any Disney princess movie. Those I remember are early ones in which the main character was much less empowered than the one in Frozen. Generally, I liked this deconstructive feel in which a true love paradigm is taken apart and reconstructed without the male hero figure. I like the moment in which a true-love-stricken princess basically says to her guy – fuck it, I’m gonna save my sister. You hold the fort! – after which she jumps on the unsaddled horse and rides away. This, and some other details like that, are in tune with the times and it’s nice to see one of the more conservative studios out there advocating the female action figure. It’s not radical about it (there is a room for improvement and in some ways Frozen is still as conservative as they come) but one should hardly expect a key industry player to be “radical” about some things.
There are things that bothered me though, especially the pulled-out-of-the-ass villain which just shows that Disney still cannot satisfactorily resolve girl loves two nice guys situation within a framework of its own ideology so one of them had to be “corrupt”. Of course, this situation didn’t appear from thin air, and it just shows bad planning from Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. It would’ve been interesting to see something more creative in resolution of this conflict. Seeing the way Frozen played with deconstruction I expected it to happen so it disappointed me a bit.
Animation is another thing. Disney did an excellent job in the area which mattered to it the most (physics of the snow, creation of unique snowflake patterns, juxtapositions of characters and background, color palette and “magic effects”). On the other hand it did a subpar job in backgrounds, in clothes (which have weird physics, and plain surfaces without any detail), in animation of animals and – to a degree – in characterization of characters which appear to have been modeled from the generic male/female stock which was left over from some discarded project. Disney being Disney – it still advocated conventional concepts of beauty and virility (proportions, thin waists, long legs, model figures and such) – so from an artistic point of view Frozen didn’t really stood out from the crowd (though the amount of mathematical modeling and computer simulation involved is staggering and it shows a lot of potential if at any point the method becomes easily available to a more creative artists out there which create outside of make profit framework). Still, unlike the Arthur Christmas featured on the blog earlier, the direction of Buck and Lee is much more sensible – it actually gives you an opportunity to see the frame, to feel the world and to feel the atmosphere frozen wastelands.
Unfortunately, songs are just awful. When they’re not plain boring or badly executed, they are without any sparkle, any semblance of life or any bit of creative energy in them. They serve a function, that much is true, though they serve it in such a mechanical manner, without effort or any kind of passion that it’s just sad to listen.
Basically, Frozen is a good movie. It has a positive vibe, it has Olaf – one of the most ridiculous and lovely characters that appeared in years – it has girl power elements, it has toned down family moments and much more. It could’ve been a great movie, but many venues are either left unfinished or left unexplored so it doesn’t have an impact it could have had. I sincerely doubt that we will remember it in a few years or that it will leave a lasting mark on pop-culture. Still, it’s not wrong to applaud the effort. Disney will be around for many years to come and we’ll definitely see some better moves coming out.
|Produced by||Peter Del Vecho|
|Screenplay by||Jennifer Lee|
|Story by||Chris Buck
|Based on||The Snow Queen
by Hans Christian Andersen
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Editing by||Jeff Draheim|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios