Why Disney’s “Frozen” Is a Bad Movie

I just finished watching the popular Disney movie, “Frozen”, for the second time. The hype surrounding the movie was obnoxious and everyone was saying that, “‘Frozen’ is one of the best movies of all time.” Watching it my first time around, it wasn’t great; the bar was set pretty high and my expectations didn’t meet up to the reality of the movie. But after my second time watching it, it has solidified in my brain that this movie is one of the worst Disney has ever produced.

There’s actually a funny history surrounding this movie. Walt Disney wanted to make this movie all the way back in 1943. “Frozen” was supposed to be Disney’s adaptation of the popular fairy tale, “The Snow Queen”, written by Hans Christian Anderson (Get it? Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven. Good job, Disney). “The Snow Queen” actually has, what would be Elsa, as the villain. They decided they couldn’t create the movie in the 40s because they couldn’t find a way to adapt it to a modern audience. They tried again in the late 1990s, but the project was scrapped when one of the head animators on the project, Glen Keane, quit. In 2010, they scrapped it again because they still couldn’t find a way to make the story work. Then, in 2011, they finally decided on making Anna the younger sister of the Snow Queen, which was enough for them to create “Frozen”.

“Frozen” was directed by Chris Buck (known for “Tarzan”) and Jennifer Lee (known for “Wreck-it-Ralph”). The bar was set pretty high for me seeing as both those movies were well above the standards of a “kid’s movie”. The story was going to be just like the fairy tale, but then, Christophe Beck composed the hit song, “Let it Go”. The production team went crazy; instead of trying to fit the song into the movie, they rewrote the entire plot and Elsa’s entire character to fit the song. I have never heard of an entire movie being changed to fit one song. Because of this, it’s blatantly obvious that no one could decide on anything in this movie. Since Elsa isn’t the antagonist, there really was no real evil force. The Duke of Weaselton is brought up to be the villain in the beginning when he states, “Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches. Did I say that out loud?” Why do you want to unlock the secrets and exploit their riches?

The Duke has absolutely no development to the point where he doesn’t even have a name. He barely even gets screen time. So if he isn’t the villain, who is? Well, in the last 15 minutes of the movie, Anna’s fiance, Prince Hans, is brought up to be the villain, stating he wants to rule a kingdom and he can’t because of his 12 other brothers. This comes out of absolutely nowhere. There were no hints, no evil glances, no sidebars or monologues, nothing. He even gives out blankets and hot soup to every person in the kingdom of Airendale. Prince Hans even says, he will protect Airendale because Anna left him in charge and “will not hesitate to protect Airendale from treason” when the Duke states he wants to take over. I can’t stand it when they get so lazy as to just throw in a villain at the last few minutes because they couldn’t actually bring up a real villain. Prince Hans states that he wanted to take over and he was going to kill Elsa and all this other crap, but Elsa was just about to be killed and he saved her life. Why would he save her life if he wanted her dead? None of it made sense and it irked me the entire movie.

Frozen recycles animation and character models from their previous hit, “Tangled”. The main characters, Elsa and Anna, use the same exact model as Rapunzel from “Tangled”. This controversy has been huge around the internet, calling Disney “lazy” and the such. Personally, I was okay with this. Disney is known for recycling animations (which can be seen here). Even though it was really strange that Elsa and Anna had the same exact face and body structure and the only difference between them were the freckles and their hair, it didn’t bother me too much. But, during the coronation scene, Elsa says to Anna, “You look beautiful.” Pretty ironic if you ask me.

The movie starts off with Elsa and Anna playing together with Elsa’s ice magic. It’s cute at first, but then Elsa strikes Anna in her head and they have to “thaw out the ice” or something along those lines. So they ask the trolls to heal her and they wipe Anna’s memories of Elsa having magic. Then, they lock the castle doors so no one can ever see Elsa and lock Elsa away in her room to never speak to her sister again. This is where it all starts to go downhill. None of it made sense. Why would you wipe Anna’s memories of Elsa having magic? If it was easily fixed, why not just explain to her that they can’t play with Elsa’s magic anymore because it’s out of hand? She would’ve known the consequences afterwards. It’s like if you touch a hot stove; you’re curious, you touch it, you burn yourself, you never touch it again. The fear solidifies subconsciously. Even if you could explain why she needed her memories erased, why was Anna locked inside the castle doors too? Anna had no recollection of the events, even at the end of the movie, so why was Anna being punished for something Elsa did? They could have easily allowed her to talk to the townsfolk and have a good time outside the castle while Elsa was locked away.

There’s this motif throughout the movie about locked doors; they lock the castle doors, Anna knocks on Elsa’s door and she never answers, Anna and Prince Hans sing the song, “Love is an Open Door”, Anna says to Elsa, “All you know is how to shut people out.” I found the motif pretty clever until they forced it down my throat. When Anna reaches the ice castle, she knocks on the door. When the door opens, she says, “Well that’s a first.” It’s a giant punch in the chest when you think you’ve analyzed a motif and you can go on and on about how amazing the directors were for putting it in there, but then the directors hold your hand and forcefully say, “Hey! This a motif! You should totally love us for this!” I would’ve been okay with it too if they just didn’t put that one line in the movie. When you read a book and you analyze it, the author is trying to let you come to the conclusion yourself and let you discuss it. It’s the same with movies. There was no need to forcefully tell us that this was a motif. Doing so was actually counterproductive. It popped my bubble.

This lead me to the question, “Why was Anna the main character?” Here’s a checklist of every plot-moving event in the movie:

Elsa strikes Anna so they have to lock the castle gates and Elsa can never talk to anyone ever again
Elsa is becoming queen
The entire kingdom gets frozen over because of Elsa
Elsa arguably has the best song in the entire movie
Anna has to find Elsa so that Elsa can save the entire kingdom
Hans has to kill Elsa to become king

Everything centers around Elsa. So why have Anna be the main character? Anna didn’t have any real character development in the movie while Elsa was completely fleshed out in every scene that she’s in. Just watch the scene from her song, “Let It Go”The entire song is about her “letting go” of her fear and coming to terms with her powers and being herself. This would’ve made a for a better plot; a woman finally coming to terms with herself, society trying to shut her down, and her fight to be accepted as who she is. Instead, it’s about Anna trying to find her sister so her sister can save the kingdom. It’s like Phil being the main character of Hercules or Mushu being the main character for Mulan. It doesn’t make any sense. Anna isn’t as interesting as Elsa. Sure, she’s funny and relate-able, but that could easily have been Elsa. Everyone can relate to not fitting into the social norms. So I reiterate, why have Anna be the main character?

Speaking of Anna, they said the only way to save her was “one true act of love”. There were many “true acts of love.” Kristoff bringing her to the trolls, Olaf giving her that pep talk, Kristoff bringing her to Hans to save her. All of these were “true acts of love”, but none of them counted because it didn’t “fit the dynamic of sisterhood.” The whole dynamic between Elsa and Anna felt so forced to the point where I stopped caring halfway through the movie. Mostly because Anna doesn’t actually evolve as a character until the very end of the movie. Even then, the development isn’t that major.Olaf is another thing that felt so force-fed. It was cute that the snowman Elsa and Anna created when they were young became a real living being and helped Anna out on her quest, but he didn’t do much. At all. He sings a song about the summer, makes a ton of jokes, gives Anna a pep talk at the end of the movie, more jokes, then that’s it. He doesn’t really face much adversity, making him extremely 1 dimensional. It’s obvious they put him in there just to be cute and to target a wider audience. There’s a test that I use to explain 1 dimensional characters; if you can replace the character with a lamp, and the plot could still advance, then the character didn’t need to be there. I promise you, if you watch the movie again and follow that test, you’ll understand exactly what I saying. What’s worse is that he could’ve actually been a catalyst to Anna regaining her memories of her sister and finally realizing why she feels the way she does. But instead, he’s nothing but a comedic relief that has no part in the plot whatsoever.

The whole movie and plot felt so rushed and like no one could agree on anything. From the villains to the plot to the characters; it’s all rushed. It felt like they said, “Hey, “Tangled” was great! Let’s just take the stuff we used from “Tangled” and get this movie off our checklist after 70 years.” But, there is one thing that did surprise me; the soundtrack. The music was phenomenal. Every song felt very broadway-esque and fit the scenes perfectly. “Let It Go”, “Love is an Open Door”, and all the rest of the songs made my heart soar and gave me hope for the next Disney titles to have music on par with the classics like “Mulan” or “The Lion King”.

And that’s my opinion on Disney’s “Frozen”. Honestly, this movie was just plain bad. I say, wait for it to go on Broadway and see it there. I firmly believe that the Broadway musical will be light-years better than this atrocity. They’ll have more time for production, more time to explain and develop their characters and plots, and the effects will be really sick. I can’t wait to see how they bring up Elsa’s Ice Castle! If you don’t agree with any of my points, do feel free to leave a comment with your opinion! Unless you’re gonna argue that this movie wasn’t targeted to my demographic and that it was “made for kids”. I will then point you in the directions of the masterpieces known as “Tangled”, “The Lion King”, “Mulan”, “Brave”, and almost every other Disney movie before this. I would love to see what everyone else thought of the movie!

Movie Talker – To Talk Or Not to Talk

The other day, I was watching a movie in a theater with some friends. It was supposed to be a comedy, but I couldn’t stomach a laugh. If I hadn’t gone with a couple of friends, I would have already been in another theater by this point. Especially a movie like this, one that would have been better to rent than pay a million dollars to see. It’s getting down right expensive to see a movie nowadays. After you factor in the pop, candy, and the price of your ticket, you almost need to take out a second mortgage. Anyway, I’m not really into the movie, and I can’t leave. I start biting my lip because I have a bad habit which drives my friends crazy. All of a sudden, I hear a familiar sound; a guy two rows down has the same condition as myself. My dimples take form for the first time this evening. The guy two rows down is a movie talker.

For those of you who are not familiar with my condition, let me showcase some of our best characteristics. They’re three kinds of movie talkers. Sometimes it is possible for a person to have all three of these traits but usually a movie talker is one of the three.

The first kind of movie talker is what I will call the Good Buddy. Don’t be deceived, this kind of movie talker is definitely not. The Good Buddy likes to talk to the characters on the screen like they are friends. They may say things like, “Don’t go into that room! Someone is waiting on the other side of the door–they’re going to kill you!!” This individual will inadvertently unfold the plot of the movie. It is important to remember that the Good Buddy does not always realize what they are doing. Whether or not the Good Buddy has previously seen the movie, is not necessarily a prerequisite for their movie talking. Unfortunately, whether they are right or wrong regarding the films outcome, does not change the fact that they are still talking during the movie.

The next kind of movie talker might think they have a sixth sense for unravelling a great mystery, but really they are nothing more than someone who points out the already known. I call this movie talker…Captain Obvious. Captain Obvious’ special power only appears in predictable movies. Captain Obvious might say things like, “Did you see that jump?” Which movie do you think we’re watching here captain? Or, “That’s the guy from earlier, remember he was in the background when so and so died.” Although Captain Obvious may seem like a pretty annoying movie talker, there is one more movie talker who is far worse.

The award for the most annoying movie talker goes to…Speechless. Ironically, they are anything but. This movie talker goes on and on, and on, and on like an old warped record. They talk about unrelated subjects during the movie regardless of whether they have seen the movie or not. Speechless may not know why they came to the movie with you in the first place. If you ask them, Speechless will probably say, “I don’t know because you were going.” They may just want to spend time with you and talk out their day, what they saw earlier, or something about the show–that reminded them of something they saw earlier. Speechless will continue to talk oblivious to the fact that you are trying to watch a movie. If you try and ignore them hoping it will send a message for silence, Speechless will continue to talk and even ask if you are paying attention. Speechless is not a bad person which makes them the worst kind of movie talker. They just have an innocence that makes them oblivious to what’s going on around them. If you tell them to shut up because you are watching a movie, then they will almost always get a doughy eyed expression like you just kicked their puppy.

Nowadays, the average movie talker is silenced at home by the technology designed to make our lives easier. We have the aging v.c.r, the everyday d.v.d player, and the newcomer d.v.r. These three devices are prepackaged with a pause, stop, rewind, and fast forward button. Unfortunately, movie theaters do not have such a luxury. Aside from creating a movie theater specifically designed for each of these movie talkers, the only real thing anyone can do is keep suspected movie talkers at home.

Or, is there?

In May of 2007 Regal Entertainment Group unleashed a new device aimed at silencing the movie talker. The hand-held device is issued to select moviegoers with a direct link to management. The four button remote control can alert management of a problem with the picture, poor sound quality, movie talking, or an act of piracy. Although this device was controversial when it was first released, it has paid for itself many times over through the satisfied customers who get a chance to see and hear the movie they’ve paid for.

Movies That Show Us Ourselves

There’s a type of movie I particularly like. By its construction, such a movie helps bring forward what’s required from you to complete it. You give it its definition; that, to me, is a real viewing experience—to personalize it and make it your own, meanings as various as the numbers of people who create them.

It’s easy to identify such a picture by its reviews, which are always in marvelous disagreement as to what the picture is fundamentally about. These movies differ from the straight story types in the same way teaching styles are dissimilar, the didactic method (you’re told or shown what the point is and you learn it; the fair-minded goodness of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is an artful example) versus the socratic (you’re led to discover the point on your own). The discovery may just happen to be about yourself, because your interpretation of the movie shows something that you may not have been conscious of. I have four of these “socratic” movies in mind as examples, Agnes of God; All Is Lost and Life of Pi; and last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Birdman, all movies that introduced me to myself more fully, the first exposing a core spiritual value system, the next two the strength of a spiritual belief, the last the depth of my perception. The films cover quite a span of years, paralleling stages of personal development I had to go through to be ready for them.

Agnes of God (1985)

This was the first that made me aware of the type of movie I describe. In it, a newborn is found strangled and disposed of in the room of a young nun, Sister Agnes. She’s the mother of the child, though the Mother Superior says Agnes has no memory of the conception or pregnancy. A court-appointed psychiatrist investigates, trying to determine if the nun is mentally capable of standing trial. Uncovering how psychologically troubled Agnes is, the psychiatrist proceeds in building a case for homicide, while the Mother Superior defends her innocence as a girl manifesting a miracle of God, the most convincing result of which are her stigmata. The clash between the two demands that you, the viewer, resolve the conflict, because the movie never confirms guilt or innocence. Your judgment of whether Agnes is touched by God or by madness solves the mystery and at the same time reveals your sense of values, faith or reason.

For me, it’s reason, which turned out to be an important finding for my future spiritual quest. I began to know then that matters of God must make rational sense to me before I can have faith. Faith for me is determined first by the mind, then the heart. If you question your own subterranean bias, watch this movie and I guarantee your natural response to it will provide the answer.

All Is Lost (2013) and Life of Pi (2012)

I was so affected by All Is Lost, I published a blog shortly after I’d seen it, “All Is Not Lost.” I’d been interested initially because Robert Redford was the star—and furthermore the only on-screen character—and I am a fan. But it unfolded to be vastly more than just a Redford vehicle, and, for the sake of the viewers surrounding me in the theater, I had to stifle the sobs that welled up in my chest because of the final scene, a compelling moment which some viewers would see as proof of God’s salvation.

I was astonished by my own reaction, for I’d not realized how powerfully my God-seeking journey had taken hold until I was faced with deciding the movie’s meaning. A secularist would experience the story as an adventure tale of a man lost at sea, all events and circumstances taken literally at the level of reality only; a spiritualist, which my surprise reaction determined me to be, would take it metaphorically as a soul’s journey, the movie’s rich setting full of symbology and hints at a religious thrust.

The other movie, Life of Pi, presents the same form of interpretive choice. At the end of Pi’s story, however, the selection the viewer has to make as to meaning is made explicit. In contrast to Our Man (Redford) in All Is Lost, where a religious theme coexists implicitly with an overtly secular one, the adult Pi tells two versions of his earlier adventure at sea as a boy, mystical and pragmatic, and then finally asks directly, Which do you believe? The voyage of his soul, sailing in surrender to the vast unknown with his only companion, a God-like Bengal tiger whom Pi loved and feared in equal measure? Or the voyage of his raft? I sobbed all the way home from that film, too, moved beyond words by Pi’s spiritual experience, he a novice seeker so like myself at the time.

Birdman (2014)

This movie posed the toughest revelation, my ability to see. The full title of it is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The subtitle (and veiled by parentheses yet!) should have been a tip-off that the movie was going to be enlightening if I could let it be; for, let’s face it, the only unexpected “virtue” of being ignorant is when you’re not anymore. Yet I couldn’t discern the movie’s real point at first, and I left the theater afterward feeling disappointed by a skimpy black comedy about actors’ pretensions. The movie had had a big promotion budget and therefore lots of pre-release buzz about its Oscar quality. But I felt cheated by the predictable story of a washed-up movie actor’s egomaniacal attempt at career redemption. However, Birdman kept pecking at my thinking, patiently dwindling my ignorance. Finally I got it because I saw this clue: the play-within-the-movie was named “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Well, what do we talk about?

That play is the platform that has-been Hollywood actor Riggan Thomson uses to get audiences to adore him again as they did back in his glory days of playing movie superhero Birdman. And there the Birdman still is, in fact, dogging Riggan, reminding him of what used to be, driving him to (at worst) insanity, to (at best) insensitive dismissal of all else but scrambling to the top again. Birdman even whisks him away on fantasy flights high above Broadway, metaphors for Riggan’s obsessive lust for celebrity—that famous stand-in for love—again. By the end, and after a dramatic ironic reversal of Riggan’s rotten comeback luck, Birdman’s left squatting in the bathroom (a darkly humorous symbol for how the past can block and constipate a life) and Riggan is surrounded by the ones who had loved him—really loved him—all along, his daughter, his ex-wife, his longtime agent. Recognizing this at last (not ignorant anymore), Riggan takes off in joyful flight on his own. What we talk about when we talk about love, therefore, is up to us, the genuine, accepting love which is offered right before us, or the fickle, superficial, people-pleasing variety.

Now that’s a meaningful flick. But, with Birdman, it’s up to the viewer to know it, to explore beneath the obvious story line about the conceits and self-involvement of the entertainment industry (movies and the “legitimate”—read “Broadway, New York City”—theater). See it (or see it again), and test your depth perception. Because of my life experience, I found my level of sense; you may find another one, filtering even farther below the story’s surface.

That is the glory of the capital-A Arts. Through the extent of understanding of individual recipients, the significance of works of art is determined. Which, in turn, helps to tell us who we are.