Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Reasons Frozen was Not a Good Movie

Introduction

I bought into the hype of Frozen, I’ll admit. The songs posted on Facebook, the constant references, the frenzy of interest…I had to watch it…and I liked it…at first. But then I watched it twice more (with kids!) and then thought about it, and realized that it’s not just not a good movie, it’s actually a bad movie that could have been epic.

I usually don’t write about things like this, but when you’re a writer in a drought you jump at the chance to write about anything. And this is something big, something that will have long lasting effects on the culture, and something that will pass for a good movie, when, if you think about it, is really not.

Summary

If you can’t read more than a few sentences because of your Facebook/Twitter addiction, then let me sum it up for you.

Frozen would have been a good movie if:
1. Olaf knew what summer was
2. Hans didn’t reveal his plan too early
3. There had been a contiguous story

So for my reader’s with attention spans, let’s get started with ways Frozen could have been better:

1. Olaf should have known about summer

There is definitely a hilarity and endearing quality to a snowman who dreams of summer. When Kristoff says, “I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat”, then “I’m gonna tell him”, and finally, “Somebody’s gotta tell him”, he stumbles upon what could have been an epic character crisis of a snowman who wants to love people and help his friends, but in so doing, would ultimately seal his doom (no-one could have foreseen his salvation at the hands of Elsa in the original version).

Imagine the internal struggle of a snowman who recognizes he must choose between either the complete ruin of summer-loving people or suicide. As it stands, Olaf’s naïvety only makes for a trite joke that is too easily rectified at the end of the movie. If it were done right, it would have put Tolkien’s Smeagol/Golum struggle to shame, but alas, it was not.

I even rewrote the song to perfectly encompass this drastic plot twist,

Winter’s a great time to stay in and cuddle,
But put me in summer, and I’ll be a…
Conflicted Snowman.
If only snowmen could foresee consequences like men should be able to.

2. Hans should have held onto his secret until the princess was actually dead

Prince Hans was a smart and laudable fellow for most of the movie, he even seems to have had a feasible plan in place for gaining a kingdom. His complete and unexpected turn to diabolicalness was far too fast and far less of a letdown than it was meant to be. Princess Anna is clearly having feelings for Kristoff midway through the movie, but in genuine loyalty to her betrothed, stands firm with Hans. Let’s say Hans was as diabolical as they want us to believe (though most of the movie does not square with his turn), then we would have to assume he thinks things through and is smarter than the average supervillain.

Prince Hans, in a good movie, would have kissed Anna, except only to the horror of everyone it would not have cured her frozen heart. Hans then easily could have said, “This is why we unfortunately cannot trust the love/magic advice of trolls.” and moved towards marriage of his “beloved” Anna, only to inherit the kingdom rightfully when hypothermia took his royal bride. Or in a better love story, Hans’ kiss does nothing, Kristoff connects the dots, rushes to her aide, and then the movie ends the way it does with Anna sacrificing herself for her sister.

As it stands, Prince Hans loses his future, the kingdom, and the movie for his impatience and lack of forethought by announcing to the world that he had married Anna before she died…but he announces her death before she actually dies. This ruined the movie because a diabolical supervillain would have thought this through, and would have left the audience guessing/wondering for a lot longer, with a more fulfilling reveal, and therefore a more fulfilling movie.

But that would have required a contiguous story.

3. A Contiguous Story

If there is one place where Frozen is a failure, it is in the lack of a streamlined story. It’s like the writers had a brainstorming session, liked everything that was proposed, and shoehorned it ALL into the movie.

The opening scene with the ice-cutter song is clever and engaging, but utterly useless in furthering the story. It lends to the idea that Kristoff was born to ice-cutters, adopted by trolls, and became an ice-cutter? It’s foolhardy and useless. Then move to the King and Queen, who come across as loving parents…who lock their daughters in the castle. In other Disney movies they would be the villains. Their death is awkwardly quick, but extremely convenient to the plot. Then Anna is scorned for falling in love with a man in a day, but nobody bats an eyelash when she kisses Kristoff after only a few days. I’ll admit, I glazed over these plot holes the first time I watched because my imagination wanted this to be a better movie than it was.

But where it gets glaringly bad is in the almost stories that are told. One person saw an attempt to force homosexuality on the viewers. Another saw a seemingly Christian theme of self-sacrifice and redemption. While there are supporting details for both, neither exists, because neither is clearly expressed, fleshed out, or corroborated. If the writers were trying to say that homosexuality is a trait that one is born with, that can’t be hidden, and is best expressed in small/controlled doses, they failed because it is in direct opposition to Elsa’s “Let it Go” song. If they were trying to say, “True love has no woman than this; that she lay down her life for her sister.” they failed because either Hans or Kristoff or Olaf could have broken the curse as quickly and completely without a sacrifice, and that is in direct opposition to the exclusivity of Christ.

Frozen is a muddle of stories that have little in common with each other. For the most part the characters are bland and unimaginative, and they were written to sing rather than tell a good story. The songs, standalone, are well written and catchy, but placed in the context of the film, the songs do not support the plot and are thus wrecked. Definitively “Let it Go” is the moment Elsa embraces the evil within herself, but when she turns back to good at the end of the movie, this song is effectively reneged, and thus is not the ballad of unbridled expression it is meant to be. Likewise, Anna and Hans’ love song is invalidated by Hans being a poor planner, a bad fiancé, and a born failure.

Conclusion

Frozen is somewhat fun and has memorable music with some endearing characters, but it contains such lazy writing and continuity that it ultimately is a forgettable and bad movie. Hans is too quickly and conveniently exposed as evil, and no-one really believes he’s as evil as the writers intend him to be; Olaf is a naïve sidekick who is far less thought provoking and silly as first impressions indicate.

But this is the quality of movie we accept now, our short attention spans require out-of-context ballads to keep us entertained, and we don’t care if there are massive plot holes or wrinkles, so long as the scene changes quickly enough and we can giggle over mildly (and in one case, wildly) inappropriate jokes.

Beloved, as you seek to redeem the time, consider if such poorly executed movies are worth your brain power or the dulling of your discernment, or decreasing your appreciation of drama. Find a good movie to watch or read a book or spend some time with people. In fact, it reminded me of a great quote from Robert Murray McCheyne’s biography (a book worth reading!), don’t let this be you,
Not a trait worth remembering! And yet these four and-twenty hours must be accounted for. - RM McCheyne