Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, January 18, 2014

No Needs

I went to the city today.  Usually, when I make the effort to go into the city, I justify it with a need to do so.  But today, I had no need.  No need for new socks and underwear.  No vital piece of new hardware that I needed to fix up the car or computer.  None of that stuff.

I was off to the city just because I wanted to see Frozen.

Frozen Movie Poster

I love animated movies.  And I've blogged before that there was once a stretch in my life where I would make the effort to head down to the local movie theatre and see every new movie that came out.  But, there was a stretch in mid-2000s where every animated movie became talking animals making pop culture references, and that ended my effort.  I learned that not every animated movie demanded my viewing.  And again, when Frozen came along, I was fairly indifferent, because I think we've said just about everything that needs to be said about the Disney princess genre.  However, Frozen was getting amazingly good reviews, and I've always had a soft spot for Disney anyway, so I finally said, "Why not?"

I always like to go to West Edmonton Mall, and since the showing I wanted to see was at high noon, I got to the Mall a little earlier than usual.  I like getting the Mall in the morning.  The crowds are much more manageable.  You've got a little more breathing room.  I can check out the Apple Store, and not have to fight through throngs of people to stare longingly at iPads.  I can head to my favourite comic book stores and root to the backs of Star Wars action figure racks with minimal judgement.  The only downside is I start feeling like having an early lunch, and most food court places don't open until 11:30 or so.  So I had to eat lunch pretty quick to get to the theatre on time.

So.  Frozen.

Frozen has a long and complicated history.  Disney has been trying for decades to do an adaptation of the Hans Christen Andersen tale The Snow Queen.  The first attempts were done by Walt Disney himself back in the 1940s.  A few tries were made during the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s.  And when Disney decided to revive traditional hand-drawn animation in the late-2000s, an attempt to tackle The Snow Queen was made once again.  And because The Princess and the Frog underperformed at the box office, Disney declared traditional hand-drawn animation dead once again, and The Snow Queen was moved over to computer animation.  And the final product is Frozen, which, after decades of rewrites, bears very little resemblance to The Snow Queen.

Our heroines are the sisters and princesses Elsa and Anna.  Elsa has been gifted with powers over ice and snow, but these powers frighten her parents, and she accidentally injures Anna with them one night.  So Elsa is taught and told to keep rigid control over herself and her powers, lest she accidentally hurt someone again.  Fast forward to when their grown-ups, and Elsa is about to crowned queen.  Needless to say, with Elsa's strict upbringing of "keep it under control" and the stress of becoming queen, on her coronation day, she's just a bundle of nerves, leading to some mishaps with her powers.  Elsa storms off into the wilderness to be by herself, and never hurt anyone again, but in doing so, she throws her queendom into perpetual winter.  So Anna sets out on a quest to reach out to her sister and bring summer back to the land. 

As you know, my favourite movie is The Iron Giant, and I always go back to the scene where the character of Dean has to undo his fly in the middle of a crowded diner to let out a squirrel.  (Just see the movie.)  That's the moment when I knew that The Iron Giant was going to be something different.  So whenever I see an animated film, I'm always hoping for a "squirrel-down-the-pants" moment to signal to me that this one is going to be different.  And I'm pleased to report that Frozen does have a couple of "squirrel-down-the-pants" moments to keep the Disney princess formula fresh.  And I like that it does continue what The Princess and the Frog started, with kind of playing with the notion of what "true love" is and maybe "true love's first kiss" is the be-all and end-all in these sorts of stories.  There's some unexpected betrayals, too, that lead to some unexpected villains which made things, well, unexpected.

That's the scene for Let It Go, the big power ballad from the film that everyone is raving about.  

The songs are amazing.  I really enjoyed them.  Just about picked up the soundtrack for the drive home.  The animation, well, it's Disney, so you know it's good.  Voice acting is all top notch.  And the characters are just fun.  Elsa and Anna are a believable pair of sisters and you share their pain when these powers start driving them apart.

I didn't find it as overwhelmingly good as a lot of the reviews have said, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.  A solid 3 Nibs.

And I should mention that it started off with the animated short film Get a Horse!, which has been getting as much critical love as Frozen itself.  It starts off as a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon from the 1920s...black and white and hand-drawn animation.  And when the evil Pete comes along to make a play for Minnie, Pete actually throws Mickey Mouse out of the movie itself, and into the real world.  In the real world, Mickey morphs into the thoroughly modern, full-colour CGI, and outside of the film, he discovers ways to manipulate the movie screen and give Pete his comeuppance.  It is incredibly clever and a whole lot of fun.

After the film, just wandered the Mall for a little bit more.  When through HMV, but got that empty, hollow feeling inside when there's no new Blu-Rays I wanted to buy.  There were a few that I kinda-sorta wanted, but there were no MUST-HAVES.  And last time I was in the city, two weeks ago, I picked up The Alien Anthology because I kinda-sorta wanted it.  That was two weeks ago and I haven't touched it yet.  So, no more Blu-Rays that I kinda-sorta want until I've made it through all four Alien films.

So I moseyed on home.

And that was my day in the city.  I know, as there was no need to go in, there's not grand ending.  No completion of a quest.  Just me, having enjoyed a movie.  I think I need to do this things just for me once in a while. 

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