FROZEN – Love and Sisterhood

Frozen left me cold – and not in a good way. It was mediocre at best. I think my wife and I are probably in a very slim minority in that regard, given the overwhelming success of the film. So before you get the pitchforks and torches, let me explain.

The comparisons between Frozen and golden age classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and even modern classics like The Lion King are a bit premature. Just because it’s a financial success in its initial run does not warrant comparison, or even make it a good movie (Fantasia, for example, was a box office failure when it premiered in 1940).

This movie is visually stunning. The art direction and animation (for the most part) are top notch. Some of the story elements are very clever send-ups of conventional fairy tale tropes, even Disney ones. However, all of the remarkable visuals cannot make up for the very sloppy storytelling, unnecessary characters, and songs that, while catchy and fun, do not match the film’s story setting or visual tone.

Despite the problems, this film does have a very strong moral center that I wished could have been explored more fully with better (and more coherent) character motivations. What this film has to say about true love and sacrifice is wonderful.

Time to “Let It Go”… SPOILERS AHEAD!

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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG – Avoiding the Easy Path in the Big Easy

The Princess and the Frog is a triumph for Walt Disney Animation Studios. The words “classic” and “timeless” are thrown around so much when describing the latest Disney Animated Features (and animated features generally) that the words seem to have lost all meaning. However, this film is both of those things and more.

This movie is more than just a movie. It is a true work of art. Every element fits together seamlessly, leaving very few bumps. It celebrates the culture of New Orleans and captures a truly unique American story. With strong characters, amazing animation, great songs and truly opulent artwork, it is a joy to watch. It contains essential technical elements from today’s successful animated features, and also calls back to the story quality of the features Walt Disney and his first team of animators created.

What makes this movie stand out from most of the current Disney Animated Features is its very firm moral bearings. The story is a masterful morality play – a wonderful teaching tool about dreaming, working hard, and avoiding the easy road.

Going down the bayou… SPOILERS AHEAD!

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – Light in the Darkness

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the finest films Marvel Studios has ever put out, and definitely the best movie of the summer so far. It was exciting, engaging and masterfully crafted. The Avengers is still my favorite Marvel film, but this one is a very close second.

I was a fan of the first Captain America film, and I was afraid that with Cap out of the context of World War II, they would change his character to reflect the times. I’m so glad they not only kept him who he is, they celebrated it, making his character one of the main themes of the movie – a genuinely good man in a world filled with blurred lines of good and evil, and how he deals with it.

The twist during the film’s second act knocked me for a loop – did not expect it at all. It completely changed the direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I couldn’t be more excited.

The film’s storyline is very prescient. It is a brilliant commentary on the growing definition of security in a post-9/11 (or in this case post-Avengers Battle of New York) world. It is also a spiritually layered story, paralleling some of the most basic truths of the Christian walk.

We’re going in… SPOILERS AHEAD!

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