Well, I’ve seen Frozen three times now. I’ve seen Thor: The Dark World Twice and I’ve seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug once. Let the reviews begin, underneath this spoiler-ific cut.
Let’s start with my least favorite, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. One other reviewer put it best when he said something like this: Whether through avarice, zeal, or a lack of perspective, Jackson is deep into fan fiction here. The only real improvement on this film over the Rankin Bass version is that this one includes everyone’s favorite were-bear, Bjorn, but beyond that, the film adds extra a lot of invention to pad this sucker out.
The idea seems to be to make The Hobbit into The Lord of the Rings. It’s not. It’s more like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, albeit a little less sketchy. To make The Hobbit into a movie might require a little fleshing out, but I think there’s enough material there for one nice movie. I could even see the stretch to two, if you had to. The problem with making this into three films is the absurdity to which Jackson must stretch himself to pad out the material.
The film is amazingly over the top. If you don’t mind Legolas going beyond his skateboard scene down the Oliphant from LotR (and just why is Legolas in this movie?) or you don’t mind Smaug being entirely coated in gold after a hastily molded giant dwarf king statue explodes from instability (and I thought this was cool. Stupid, but cool.), then you’ll be okay here. Think really bad B movie. No, think Jackson’s early horror flick Dead Alive, and you’ll have the level of exaggeration that’s going on here.
Not all of the additions are bad. I like Tauriel for a couple of good reasons, but overall just ouch. You can see it, but don’t expect much. And if you are a purist, you’d best stay away entirely.
Thor: the Dark World is my second favorite recent flick. I am happy to watch Hemsworth and Hiddleston chew up the furniture, and I think that the Asgard gang gets some good collaboration in this time around. Friga’s death is very well done, and her funeral is breath-takingly beautiful. Thor’s romance with Jane continues apace, alas for Lady Sif, but Jane’s incarnation here is an energetic performance by Natalie Portman, and I don’t mind her horning in on Sif’s action.
I’m not sure why they chose Chris Eccleston for the role of Malekith the Accursed. Eccleston is a great actor, but he is wasted in this stiff role under the cover of a ton of make up. Better have saved him for another Marvel opportunity, either hero or villain.
At any rate, the plotting was good. The Asgardian 11’s plotting was also good, and the ending leaves things open for interesting possibilities. Bonding between Thor and Loki, the last time they may ever come together on a project, is also a good reason to see the flick.
Frozen does so many things differently than the average Disney film. It discards the idea that you can find your true love and spend a happy life with them in 10 minutes. The two sisters in this film do EVERYTHING. They are the action, heart, soul, and sacrifice of this film. There’s no film without the sorceress sister Elsa, who is the snow queen of this tale, but there’s really no story without her heroic sister Anna who goes after her when Elsa’s secret is revealed and people react less than favorably. Anna and Elsa compliment each other in many ways. The plot twists at the end no less than 3 times, and I didn’t see the ending coming. I’ll admit it was because it wasn’t the ending that I would expect from a Disney film, so my expectations got me.
There are some very Disney things afoot. There’s a reindeer and a snowman for the kids. Sven the Reindeer isn’t annoying at all, and adds depth to Kristoff’s character. I tried hard to dislike Olaf, but it’s really hard to dislike Olaf. He soft shoes, and not many snowmen can do that. He’s also got a good reason to be there.
The plot operates on two Cartesian coordinates: innocence versus experience, and isolation versus acceptance. Everything sort of falls out from there. I thought I had seen it for the last time this weekend, but I just found out there are spoilers at the end, so, who knows. I may have to go back. Stupid Catherine for not waiting.
All right. Next time, and I mean it, the first of my Venice posts.