Movie: Frozen

"Frozen"

Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.” — (c) Disney

If you’re looking for the perfect family movie, look no further than Disney’s Frozen!

Okay, so I might be a little biased because I’m a Disney kid, but I really liked their latest release. Mostly because, while Frozen has a love story, they don’t treat it as the be-all and end-all of the movie. And for a Disney Princess movie, that’s a big win.

Anna and Elsa, our two main protagonist, are sisters who are given two very different fates: one is destined to be feared, and the other will suffer for it. But because of their love for each other, they will not stop from protecting one another. And that is the driving force behind Frozen: that passion between two sisters who love each other no matter what.

But this being a Disney Princess movie, of course there’s going to be romance. Two, in fact. But we’ll focus on the one between Anna and Prince Hans.

Disney outdoes itself in the pace they deal with the love story thread of the film–and although, as adults, we’re cringing at the fast courtship and engagement of Anna and Prince Hans, they still manage to sell it. So much so that when the film introduces a third party in their love story, you wish that he’d fall in love with Elsa instead.

And I’m not going to continue with that because I do not want to spoil how that love story unravels.

Now, I don’t think the film is perfect. Far from it. There are a couple of plot twists that come left of field, and some plot holes that would make you scratch your head. But, overall, the film is enjoyable enough that said twists and holes don’t detract from the overall experience.

I still prefer Tangled over it, but I love the effort they put into making it different.

Movie: Epic

"Epic"

EPIC is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of ICE AGE and RIO, EPIC tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world…and ours.” — (C) Fox

It wasn’t completely original, story-wise; but the fight scenes were amazing–a smaller scale of the kind of fight scenes we’ve seen in movies like the Lord of the Rings. And, again, maybe not very original; but it’s awesome nonetheless.

Now, as for the story, it’s very simple. So much so, in fact, that if you read the synopsis again, a quarter of it is pretty much the studio telling you what other hit movies they’ve released–just so you’d watch this one.

Nah, I’m kidding. This movie can stand on its own wobbly legs. Or stick legs. Like a grasshopper’s. A girl gets shrunk into the size of insects because she will play a big part in the coming war between the forces of life and decay. Obviously, our girl’s on the good side. But while she’s cavorting with the “leaf men” and the other creatures of the forest, she’s also supposed to be dealing with her daddy issues.

Neither the synopsis nor the trailer touched that story thread, yes; and I’m guessing it’s not just because this particular story thread isn’t as compelling as the action-adventure aspect of the animated film, and isn’t as inviting to children. MK, that’s our protagonist, doesn’t look like she’s completely sold on her own daddy issues either.

And, well, it doesn’t really get discussed much. Most of its development revolves around the fact that MK wants to be normal again. Which, again, doesn’t get touched on a lot.

Maybe it’s because the whole meat of the movie happens in the span of a day. The characters aren’t given time to breathe, grieve, and absorb. They’re not given time to move on, or time to start a journey to their self-discovery.

This movie had a potential to be, dare I say it? Epic. If only it had been allowed to breathe. Instead, we get an okay film which kids would enjoy for the action, and adults would find humorous (for some parts). But is it another Rio? Another Ice Age?

No.

Is it worth the ticket price, at least? Not in 3D, no.

Movie: Wreck-It Ralph

"Wreck-It Ralph"

Ralph is tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, the good guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. But after decades doing the same thing and seeing all the glory go to Felix, Ralph decides he’s tired of playing the role of a bad guy. He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero. On his quest, he meets the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty. But it’s the feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz from the candy-coated cart racing game, Sugar Rush, whose world is threatened when Ralph accidentally unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens the entire arcade. Will Ralph realize his dream and save the day before it’s too late?” — (C) Disney

The first time I saw the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph, I knew I was going to be in theaters its first day of release. And I was. And I loved it as much as I loved the trailer. Seriously. Even the really quiet parts.

Wreck-It Ralph has the perfect mix of adventure and heart, with a healthy dose of nostalgia. And by healthy, I mean just enough. The familiar computer game characters that appear on screen don’t take away the spotlight from the main characters–but they don’t feel like tacked-on gimmicks either, with Clyde (the orange Pacman ghost), Zangief (from Street Fighter), and a zombie from House of the Dead playing a part in pushing Ralph into his journey.

The pace of the story could do with some work, but it’s a film. It’s not like we can change channels or tune it out while in the theater, right? It’s not dragging, so it doesn’t really detract from the whole feel of the film. But some parts, I felt, could’ve been more … faster, I guess. Like the whole chunk of sequences that had Ralph and Vanellope working together to make a car.

I know it’s important to build the relationship of the two characters, but–maybe there could’ve been a better way to do it? Or, you know, they could’ve made this part shorter and just added a different scene prior or after to further push the relationship of the two.

Other than that, the only gripe I have about the movie is the first time we see villain King Candy work around the game codes. I felt like it could’ve benefited from a better lead-in scene, as the actual scene of the monarch swimming in codes was a little jarring.

Is that a spoiler? Sorry. It’s a very villain thing to do to cheat though, so it’s not that big of a spoiler…right?

Now, going back to why I loved the film, it’s actually very simple: Wreck-It Ralph is a celebration of who you are. Not who people want you to be, or what you think people want you to be. It celebrates the role you play in life, no matter how other people see it.

It’s a movie about who you are–not what you are.

Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle

"Howl's Moving Castle" by Hayao MiyazakiWhen an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking home.

The first time I encountered Howl’s Moving Castle, back in college, it was through this animated film. I didn’t know it was based off a novel, and that a couple of years later, that same novel was going to make it into my top 10 list of favorite novels of all time. And so I passed on it. The horror! I could say I watched it then and enjoyed it completely, but what’s the point of lying on the internet? Don’t answer that.

Anyway, before I completely go off-tangent again, let’s talk about Howl’s Moving Castle. Specifically, what makes it a different entity from the book. Because personally, I wouldn’t say the film is by Diana Wynne Jones, even though the basic structure of the story (and what propels the story forward) do come from her. And there are numerous film adaptations who would take its source material and just lay it out in film form. Yes, Philosopher’s Stone, I’m looking at you. That’s not the case with Howl’s Moving Castle. And unlike other “adaptations”, *cough*HungerGames*cough*, this one does succeed in keeping the core of the story, while making it an entirely different entity.

After reading the novel, I wanted to go back to this film immediately. But I wasn’t able to, as my copy of the film is with a friend. Still with the same friend, actually. So instead, I decided to read the plot synopsis of the film instead. I must admit that I felt a little peeved that Howl’s Moving Castle, the animated film, was credited more to Hayao Miyazaki and not to the author of the source material. I thought it was an affront to the genius of Miss Jones. That made me turn my nose up on the film.

So what changed my mind? Maturity? Old age? I don’t know. But I finally found myself watching the film after almost three years of consciously pretending it doesn’t exist. And, I don’t think I have to spell it out, but here’s the thing: I completely loved it. And, obviously, I think Hayao Miyazaki did a wonderful job in making it his own.

As a fan of Howl’s Moving Castle, the novel, I still recognized the main story structure and the characters. But how the story unfolded was  taken into a different direction, and what a turn it took. Even though I knew where everything was going, I was still at the edge of my seat, excitedly waiting for what happens next. It was like I knew nothing about the story. And it felt wonderful. Why? Because I got to relive the first-time enjoyment I experienced after reading the novel. And, ask anyone, that’s pretty hard to do once you know where things are going.

The only complaint I have, if it is one, is that the film was too short. The other things, like what happened to Sophie’s other sister (the one she mentions near the beginning of the film), I can let pass. Because I know what happened there, in the book. I guess strangers to the book can write it off as a throwaway line. I guess. It doesn’t lessen one’s enjoyment of the film, for sure.

As for the thing I liked the most about the film? I love how they treated Sophie’s curse. It was magnificent. And totally not how I imagined the curse to be like when I was reading the book–which is what, I guess, I could say for the entire film. It wasn’t what I imagined, but it was magnificent.

Which is why, lesson learned, one must never really judge things by how they are described by other people. Which is an odd thing to say, being that I blog my reactions on books, television shows, and films. But it is what it is. Let other people influence you, but never let them make your decisions for you. If you let opinions cloud your judgment, you might never find things to enjoy.