Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I got over my cold right on time for it and what's just as exciting is finally the release of Frozen! It's been quite a while since I've went to the theaters as I skipped Turbo, Planes, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Freebirds. I have been eagerly waiting for this movie to be released and haven't been able to see any early screenings of it either, at ILM or CTN. I don't care about some people saying the characters look too homogenized, looking too much like Rapunzel from Tangled, or how they dislike the sidekick character, Olaf. This movie is completely for me. Frozen has two princesses and lots of singing which is, even though I still loved it, something that I found sadly missing from Wreck-it-Ralph. After the official release, there's even been a review with a headline, that I quickly glanced at, saying that Frozen is the new best movie since Lion King. This is a tall, tall, order to make as Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. While Lion King doesn't lose its spot, I loved Frozen. I've cried many times throughout the movie and, while For the First Time is easier to sing, Let It Go is my favorite song.
First off is trailers! Animal Logic is making another movie, The Polar Bears, and it features the polar bears from Coca-Cola. I don't know. It looks cute with polar bears and it seems like a standard happy family movie but at the same time it may fall into the trap of making a giant hour long advertisement for Coca-Cola. The Nut Job, by ToonBox Entertainment and Red Rover International, is something new but unfortunately doesn't really spark my interest with squirrels and rats trying to break into a nut shop. I was kind of iffy on The Lego Movie before but seeing this new trailer made it look pretty good. The movie is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and it really comes across with all the hilarious gags.
The short that comes before Frozen is Mickey Mouse in Get a Horse. I had already seen Get a Horse previously at Animation Show of Shows but it was unfortunately just in 2D. 3D does make it better, it was more visually appealing as the characters play with the different levels of space. Not only is there the 3D foreground space of the theater and the 2D space of the projected movie screen but there is another 3D space behind the screen which further suggests the authenticity of the characters and the world that they inhabit, recalling back to my days from DxArts.
Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. Loosely. Which I love. Just like with Princess and the Frog and Tangled, I love seeing how Disney can take a classic story and put a new twist on it that is exciting, intriguing, and appealing. Instead of a girl traveling to snowy lands to save her kidnapped brother from the snow queen, Anna and Elsa are sisters and Elsa, who becomes the snow queen, is frightened of her powers and ends up running away after an incident to protect those she cares for from herself. Anna must journey to find her sister and resolve the issue, casting Arendelle into eternal winter, accidentally caused by Elsa.
Since the trailers, people have been giving a lot of grief over the snowman sidekick character, Olaf. Many complaints were that he was annoying and doesn't contribute in a significant way other than to provide comedic relief. In the movie, while he does provide comedic relief, I actually find Olaf coming across as very endearing. This is partially built upon by the history he has between Elsa and Anna as Olaf is the snowman that Elsa built for Anna in their childhood, while they were still friends and Anna hadn't had her memory wiped.
I love Elsa, she is fierce. I do wish she had more screen time. Her character cinched it for me when she sang Let It Go. The sequence was beautiful and the song really hit home as she sang about how she had to keep herself hidden all the years past and become the normal girl everyone expects of her. She's had enough hiding herself and it's time to open up and be proud of who she is. One confusion I do have though is her issue of being unable to control her powers. She looked like she was able to control them perfectly well as she creates a bridge of ice and an entire palace. It's only when there are other people around does it suddenly become "Oh no, stay away from me, I can't control it!" However, I'll attribute this more to that Elsa isn't so much as can't control her powers as she has too much powers and it is bursting out of her, especially after being stoppled for so many years.
There is one point with the story that I take issue with though and that is the romance angle. It was great that Hans isn't who he really seems to be and of course Anna can't just up and marry a guy on the first day they meet but turning around and saying she's in love with Kristoff also felt like a stretch. Through their journey together there was a sense of camaraderie but I would not say feelings were developed. The love angle was more so pushed at the last minute between Olaf and Sven as they attempt to push Anna and Kristoff together in necessity of true love's kiss.
The snow dynamics was amazing and beautiful. I believe Disney is calling it Matterhorn, which they presented at SIGGRAPH. There were multiple scenes where the characters would be covered in snow and I wondered if they had to create separate rigs that are covered in snow or if they just used the snow particles and stuck it to the characters.
For animation, the one shot that struck me the most is during Elsa's coronation. She had to take her gloves off to pick up the scepter and an orb(?), but her gloves are what she wears to keep her powers at bay. As she takes off her gloves you can see the little tremors in her hands which was beautiful and says so much.
The lighting is beautiful throughout the film. I wish a color script or a render script is somewhere for me to gaze upon. The movie starts out strong with a beautiful sunset back lighting the mountain men as they sing Frozen Heart and harvest blocks of ice. Following the beautiful and almost painterly tones and style of the world, the lighting was typically kept soft. While the land was covered in snow and ice, to keep the movie going sad and cold, a lot of vibrant blues and warm purples were used. It wasn't until when Elsa was captured and locked up did the world turn a stark and gray only to have that shadow be cast away when the protagonists emerge victorious.
I love staying through the credits, not only to support the artists, look for names of people that I know, and to stay for the often ending clip. I found Kira Lehtomaki (animator), Robert Showalter (lighter), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (director of talent development). While reading through the credits there was also a fun little disclaimer. In the movie, Kristoff made the statement that all men eat their own boogers. The disclaimer said that Kristoff's views were his own and does not reflect upon Disney. When I got up to leave the theater I noticed that I was the only one left. Everyone else missed the ending clip with Marshmallow coming on screen to put on Elsa's tiara. They missed out!