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Monday, March 24, 2014

Frozen - A Film For People Who Love Warm Hugs

I'm very excited to be bringing you a follow-up edition of the Monday Matinee.  And, what I mean by follow-up edition is the fact that a couple of weeks ago, I talked about a movie that I had not yet seen, but was intrigued about.  It was a movie that was getting a lot of buzz from media outlets, and just judging by the number of people who asked me about this movie prior to its release on DVD and Blu-Ray.

So, two weeks ago, I posed the it worth it to seek out the 2013 movie "Frozen" and watch it, so that I can give a proper review of it later on in this blog.

Well, as far as comments on this blog went...I received nary.  Just to let you all know, you CAN post comments on this blog.  I usually read almost every single one, and while I might not respond to all of them, I do read them.

(That said, don't hock your wares on my blog.  If I see anything in the comments section that even resembles an ad, it will be deleted.)

However, when it came to asking people on the street whether I should go and see "Frozen", the response was almost unanimous. 

"You have to go and see this movie!  It is so good!"
"The music is so awesome!  I love it!"
"Olaf's adorable!"
"One of Disney's best films over the last 15-20 years!"
"It should have been released during March Break!"

Well, hell...with comments like that, I suppose that I should give it a whirl.  

The movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 18.  I bought my copy March 19.  And, I usually don't buy movies without seeing them first (especially ones that cost $20.00 and up), but in this case, I would make an exception.  After all, I was letting the power of the people make my decision for me that day.  I figured that by buying the movie, I owed them that at least.  And besides, I haven't really seen too many Disney films that I hated, so I thought I would be making a calculated risk in purchasing it.

Turns out that it was a good decision to go with the DVD copy.  My store completely sold out of Blu-Ray copies after two days.  In fact, I think I read somewhere (I think it was the UK based entertainment site Digital Spy) that in the first two days of release that "Frozen" sold 3,200,000 copies!  That is absolutely impressive!

So, now that I've watched the movie, I'm going to give a review.  I'll fill in the plot details a little bit better (without revealing how it ends), and I'll flesh out the character details more, and I'll give my final thoughts along with some interesting trivia bits about the movie that you might not have known!

Oh, more thing.  Since the movie is called "Frozen", let's freeze this font colour a little bit.

Ah.  That's better.  On with the show.

The tale of "Frozen" begins in the kingdom of Arendelle, a picturesque area with a gigantic castle and a beautifully developed shipyard, ideal for trading.  The King and Queen of Arendelle rule the land openly, and allow the residents in and out of the castle courtyard whenever they liked...

...that is until one fateful day.

You see, the King and Queen of Arendelle had two daughters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell).  Elsa is the eldest of the two, and is expected to take over the kingdom of Arendelle when she comes of age.  But Elsa also has something unique about her.

She has the power to freeze things and create snowy weather with just a simple touch.

Of course, at first, Elsa is thrilled to have the power, and she amuses Anna with all the fun things that they can do with it.  Elsa transforms the castle floor into an indoor skating rink, she builds mountains that she and Anna slide down, and she even builds Anna a snowman pal named Olaf. 

But during one particular day of fun, Elsa accidentally zaps Anna with a bolt of frozen magic, and it knocks her out cold.  A strand of her red hair turns platinum blonde, and Elsa is heartbroken that she has hurt her sister.  While Elsa tends to Anna, she is unaware that the entire room transforms into a gigantic walk-in cooler, and by the time her parents enter the room, they come to the conclusion that Elsa's powers are uncontrollable.  The King and Queen rush Anna to a gully where a group of trolls help heal Anna.  As the leader of the trolls, Grand Pabbie (Ciaran Hinds) states, the power hit her head, so it could be treated.  Had it struck her in the heart, it would have been much more difficult to heal.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The well-meaning King and Queen of Arendelle decide to keep the gates to the castle permanently closed, and separate Elsa and Anna from each other as a way to protect both of them, but both are unaware that they are causing harm instead, as the one unbreakable bond between the two sisters becomes fragmented as a result.  Of course, it also doesn't help much that when Grand Pabbie healed Anna, he removed all of her memories of Elsa even having powers.  

So, here's the situation.  We have Anna who is upset that her older sister seems to be shutting her out, not realizing that the only reason Elsa is doing this is because she is afraid of harming her with her magic freeze touch.  You can bet that something will happen that will blow everything apart.

Sure enough, it does one summery day.  After the King and Queen of Arendelle lose their lives in a shipwreck, Elsa is set to be crowned the new Queen upon her twenty-first birthday.  And the coronation ceremony makes Anna very excited as it will be the first time in forever that the gates are opened up to the public.

Wow, I feel like a song, don't you?

Naturally, the coronation scene goes very well despite Elsa feeling a little apprehensive about grabbing the royal scepter.  It almost instantly freezes when Elsa grabs it, which causes her to wear bright blue gloves at all times in an effort to control the power and hide it from others.

Meanwhile, the coronation ceremony brings forth people from all areas surrounding Arendelle including neighbouring communities.  In particular, the Duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk) arrives solely for the purpose of instigating a trading contract with Arendelle to line his own pockets with gold.  As well, we have the arrival of Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), who quite literally bumps into Princess Anna.  The two of them hit it off at the coronation ceremony and Anna believes that she has found true love after just all of twelve hours!  After all, according to Anna, love is an open door!

And while I'm trying not to spoil the film too much, this song just might very well be the most ironic song in the whole film!  You'll understand what I mean.

So, how does Elsa react to the fact that Anna has decided to get married rather impulsively?  She doesn't like the idea at all, and essentially evicts Anna from the castle right there and then!  This prompts Anna to deliver a few home truths to Elsa, which in turn causes Elsa to respond by creating a barricade of icicles which shocks everybody in the room...including Anna!  Needless to say, Elsa's display causes the people of Arendelle to turn against her, and she flees from the site, transforming Arendelle into a permanent winter wonderland in the process.  Anna, concerned for her sister, leaves her new fiance in charge of Arendelle while she sets out to search for her sister, unaware that the Duke of Weselton is making plans to bring back Elsa - dead or alive - so that the winter madness will stop.

Of course, that could be difficult since Elsa is absolutely unaware of how to control her powers, and that she's too busy building an ice palace while singing about how the cold doesn't bother her anyway.

Meanwhile, Anna befriends a few people along the way on her journey to bring Elsa back to Arendelle to put things right.  She meets mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) at a trading post, and after gaining his trust by buying carrots for his beloved pet reindeer Sven, the duo join Anna in the trek to the North Mountain - where Elsa's ice castle sits.

And of course, they run into an old friend.

Turns out that Olaf (Josh Gad) - the snowman who loves warm hugs - has been brought to life when Elsa created her own personal ice shrine, and Olaf quickly endears himself to Anna and joins the crew - despite the fact that Sven keeps trying to eat his nose.

But when the group arrive at the ice castle and Anna tries to convince Elsa to come back to Arendelle, it causes Elsa to snap and unaware of what she's doing, Elsa shoots a ray of frozen energy directly into Anna's heart!  Of course, the effects of this aren't automatically shown at first, but when Kristoff notices that Anna's hair is slowly turning white, he and Olaf come to the conclusion that something is definitely wrong.  Fortunately, Kristoff remembered that when he was a little boy, he witnessed the trolls healing a little Anna years ago, and he thought that by bringing Anna back there, Grand Pabbie could do something.  But when he tells the group that only an act of true love could remove the ice from Anna's heart, they come to the conclusion that makes sense.

But, what happens when Kristoff has conflicting feelings about it all?
What happens when Hans and Anna are reunited?
Will Olaf ever discover what it's like to experience summer?
And, will Elsa finally find a way to control her frozen Midas touch?

Well, I can't really say much more than that.  All I can say is that the ending is unlike most Disney movies you've seen, the animation is spectacular, and sometimes people are worth melting for.

And, sometimes you have to listen to the people.  I bought the movie because people were telling me that I had to see it.  Looking back, I'm happy I listened to them.  The film is a cinematic masterpiece, and I think it absolutely deserved the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  The songs are all catchy and memorable, the voice acting is just perfect, and I don't even want to know just how much work the animation team put in to make the scenes pop.  It is a fantastic movie with a fantastic message, and I recommend that you go out and see it if you haven't already.  Bravo to Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, and everybody else for making this film such a huge success!

Now for some interesting trivia about the film.  Some of which surprised even me!

1 - This movie is based on the fairy tale "The Snow Queen", by Hans Christian Anderson.  And, four of the characters in the film sound out his name somewhat if you put them together.  Just say it with me.  Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven.

2 - This film marked the directorial debut of Jennifer Lee, who teamed up with Chris Buck to bring "Frozen" to the big screen.

3 - Both Anna and Elsa have been made into characters for the Disney video game "INFINITY".

4 - The idea to make "The Snow Queen" into a Disney feature was not a new idea.  Walt Disney reportedly wanted to make it a feature back in the 1940s, but the project was shelved.

5 - Initially, Santino Fontana auditioned for the role of Kristoff, but when the script was changed around, Fontana was given the role of Hans instead.

6 - Josh Gad won an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production in 2014 for his work in "Frozen".

7 - Both Josh Gad and Kristen Bell have stated that one of their goals was to voice an animated character in a Disney film.  Both got their wish with "Frozen".  In fact, Kristen secured the role of Anna after producers listened to a demo tape she made of herself singing "Part of Your World" from the 1989 film "The Little Mermaid"!

8 - Had the original screenplay been approved, Elsa would have been the primary antagonist of the movie.

9 - Both Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell auditioned for parts in the movie "Tangled".

10 - In order to better animate Sven, a live reindeer was actually brought into animation studio!  

11 - Look very closely at the shelves inside the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.  Notice the Mickey Mouse sitting there?  It's a common trend in Disney movies that there has to be at least one Mickey Mouse hidden somewhere.

12 - The film has a crazy credit during the credit scroll.  It states the following:  "The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their boogers is solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Walt Disney Company or its filmmakers."

13 - The movie "Frozen" has several references to the number thirteen.  The movie was released in 2013, Hans is the thirteenth of thirteen siblings, and if you were to take all of the Disney Princesses and line them up, Elsa would be Princess #13 (Anna is #12)!  And, as of today, the film is currently the 13th highest grossing film overall!  Of course, that could very well change, but it's quite interesting, nonetheless.

14 - This film marks back-to-back Disney films for actor Alan Tudyk, whose previous Disney role was King Candy in 2012's "Wreck-It-Ralph".

15 - Elsa creates two snowmen in the film.  Olaf represents the childhood innocence between Elsa and Anna, and also symbolizes a time in which Elsa was warm and open, hence Olaf's friendliness.  Marshmallow, on the other hand, was created when Elsa just wanted to be left alone, which explains why Marshmallow is so much angrier and intimidating than Olaf.

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