Let It Go, Let It Snow, Let It Go

Frozen (2013)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: This movie is so girl power that you won’t even want him there. Go with your sister instead so you can fight over who’s the Anna and who’s the Elsa afterwards.

As I sit here watching the Sochi Olympics, lamenting over my short-lived career as a 7 year-old figure skater where I was much more focused on the piping hot churro that I was rewarded with after every lesson than I was on landing my toe loop (can you blame me?), I figured this would be the perfect time to write a review on the pretty-surprising Disney smash Frozen.

Now, let me start off with a disclaimer: for as much as I loved it, I did have some issues with Frozen – mostly with the plot, which at times felt rushed and at other times had its holes. For this alone, I do not think it holds a candle to The Lion King, and is definitely not above Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast. BUT the animation was gorgeous, the music was uplifting, and the story was inspiring and fairly feminist as far as Disney movies go. So, it was a win in my book. Plus, I definitely shed more than my fair share of tears during the show-stopping “Let It Go”… but, more on that later.

Frozen is based off Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and when I say based I mean that, like Andersen’s fairytale, there is a fierce woman who has the ability to turn things into snow/ice and the comparisons really stop there – give or take a troll or two. But that’s okay, because truthfully that story can be a little scary and very preachy so I was good with the creative liberties that the Disney team took (No offense, Hans). Anyway, Elsa and Anna are princess sisters who live in the luscious realm of Arendelle and all is good and well except for the fact that Elsa was born with icy powers that sometimes shoot out of her unexpectedly. This can be fun when you’re doing things like transforming your banquet hall into a winter wonderland, but not so much when you accidentally strike your baby sis with a laser beam of ice. The King and Queen rush Anna to some magical trolls who heal her, but warn the King and Queen that Elsa’s powers must be controlled and that any memory that Anna has of Elsa’s powers must be erased. Cut to a bunch of years later: the King and Queen are dead (Disney HATES parents), Elsa is about to be coronated, and the two sisters haven’t had much interaction since The Ice Incident – which Anna doesn’t remember and therefore thinks Elsa is just a cold-hearted b*tch. But really, Elsa has been hiding in her bedroom in fear, wearing gloves, and trying not to freeze everything in sight. (And you thought King Midas had it bad… at least he had the power of gold, not cold.)

*Groan*. I just re-read that last sentence. Sorry guys, this is my first review in a year and a half. I’m a little rusty. Moving on…

The day of Elsa’s coronation, the castle doors open up for the first time in years and all of the teenage hormonal angst that had been building up within Anna erupts when she meets Prince Hans of Mutton Chops. Actually, he was from someplace else but I can’t remember where because I was so focused on his facial hair and being fearful for poor Anna, who must have never gotten the memo that you should never trust a man with mutton chops. Anna tells Elsa that her and Hans plan to marry, and Elsa – like any respectable older sister – tells Anna she’s crazy, shoots out some ice, and sends Arendelle into an eternal winter. The people of Arendelle accuse Elsa of being some sort of evil sorceress, so she flees to the North Mountain and Anna goes after her, leaving Hans in charge of the kingdom. Along the way, she runs into mountain man Kristoff and his BFF/pet reindeer Sven, as well as a talking snowman named Olaf who was a product of Elsa’s and has some insight as to where she went.

Although the setup of the film did have its fun moments, the writers squeezed in a lot in a short amount of time – sometimes a bit haphazardly. Within the first half hour, Elsa almost killed Anna for the first time, their parents died, Anna fell in “love,” and then Elsa almost killed Anna for a second time – exposing her powers. The film didn’t really take off for me until Elsa fled to the mountains and burst out into one of the most “Screw Everyone, I’m Awesome” songs of all time: Let It Go. I’m including it here because if you haven’t heard it yet well, what’s wrong with you? And if you have, your play count is probably in the double digits already so why not make it triple:

I love this number for so many reasons, from Idina Menzel’s powerful vocals to the fierce look Elsa gives as she slams the doors to her ice castle closed at the end. It’s an anthem for anyone who beats to their own drum and has ever felt like they had to hide it. It challenges girls everywhere to shed those obedient female stereotypes society has laid out for us and to just do our own thing. I could seriously write a whole review about just this one song. But, I won’t. From that moment on, the film really took on a life of its own. I loved the spunk that Kristen Bell brought to Anna. I loved the innocence that Josh Gad brought to Olaf: a snowman whose only wish is to feel the warmth of summer. And even though I saw the ending coming the second the trolls said “only an act of true love can cure a frozen heart,” I loved that what saved Anna in the end wasn’t her love for a man, but her love for her sister. One thing that did really bother me though was Han’s reveal as a villain. I knew it was going to happen the whole time, but I just hoped it wouldn’t. Granted, the movie needed a bad guy, but this just seemed like a cheap mechanic to use to add some drama. Plus, they named him Hans and like… poor Hans Christian Andersen who inspired the story, amiright?!

Truthfully, even though Anna was the selfless one who sacrificed herself for her sister, Elsa remains the heroine for me. Perhaps it’s because, particularly at this stage in my life, I identify more with her: a good girl/perfectionist who grows up in fear of showing her true colors until the pressures of adulthood leave her no choice but to just let it go. Elsa is my soul sister, and I thought it was really cool to see another Disney heroine with absolutely NO love interest (Brave’s Merida being the first to my knowledge). Hopefully Frozen’s box office numbers will inspire Disney to make more movies about fearless heroines who don’t need no man to legitimize their awesomeness.

To end, here’s a throwback to my figure skating days. I’m the one in green with the churro gut:

Aw, shucks! I totally forgot to fit in a Polar Vortex/Disney marketing scheme joke somewhere… Too easy.

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Spoiler Alert: They Still Hit The Iceberg

Titanic (in 3D)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ (4.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: If you have trouble convincing him to take you, these 4 words should do the trick: Kate Winslet’s 3D boobs.

When Titanic came out in theaters for the first time in 1997, I was in the third grade and it was a magical experience that evoked a lot of “firsts” for me: first time I got to see a PG-13 movie in theaters, first time I saw a pair of boobs that didn’t belong to my Mom, first time I decided I wanted to go to “movie school” (which I did) so I could become a big-time director (which I didn’t), first time my Dad let me get popcorn AND Sno-Caps (hey, it’s a 3 hour movie!), first time I fell in love and could use the fancy cursive I just learned to write “Christie DiCaprio” all over my schoolbooks… Cut to 15 years later: I have seen more than my fair share of boobs (even though I never seemed to grow any), the AMC near me has abhorrently retired Sno-Caps, I don’t remember how to write in cursive, and my heart has gone on from Leonardo to a string of other Hollywood infatuations (most currently – Andrew Garfield). One thing that hasn’t changed? The wondrous movie magic that mesmerizes my entire being throughout the 194 minutes of James Cameron’s Titanic.

Now, I have faced a lot of criticism over the years for my unabashed love for this movie. During my time at Tisch, my high opinion of the film was undoubtedly in the vast minority and I found myself in one too many heated debates over the 1997 Academy Awards. Yes, L.A. Confidential was an amazing film that would have deserved the award any other year… but against Titanic? Bitch, please. Forget for a second that this bad boy set box office records (which is not something the Academy generally cares about anyway), grossing close to $2 billion worldwide. Forget about its script, which is amazing and easily the most quoted script in movie history despite it being criticized for its sappiness and repetitive use of the main characters’ names (Rose: 76, Jack: 85). Forget about how completely ahead of its time the stunning special effects were. Instead, just think about it’s impact. I was in the third grade and I still remember what I was eating in the theater that night, and who I talked about it with at the lunch table the next day (Heather Frederick, thank you very much). Did it impact every person to the same extent as it impacted me – who decided then and there at the age of 8 that I would go to film school? Of course not. But people of all ages and genders worldwide came out in droves to see Titanic multiple times. Why? Because there is literally something in it for everyone: a hard-hitting historical account of one of the world’s saddest tragedies, an epic tale of romance and loss, fearless action sequences, beautiful cinematography, mind-blowing visual effects… even some nudity! And although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I firmly believe whoever claims that the film sucks is just saying it to be ironic. [No offense.]

Now that that’s off my chest…

It was hard for me to imagine what a third-dimension could add to a film that was already so aesthetically spectacular and pretty-effing-perfect in 2D. To be honest, I don’t think it added all that much. I’m not saying it didn’t look completely awesome – it’s James Cameron, of course it did. The dude spent over 60 weeks and $18 mil converting the movie frame by frame (all 260,000 of them). But I always felt like Titanic in 2D had a bit of a 3D feel to it already. Granted, there were a few scenes that particularly stood out due to this conversion. The 3D permits us to teeter with Rose over the ship’s railing as she contemplates suicide, and the depth and darkness of the ocean at this angle truly spooked me. Later on, post-iceberg, Jack and Rose are at that same location on the stern, when it is split in half from the rest of the ship. Clinging onto the outside of the railing, they are pulled into the air at a 90 degree angle before facing a steep plunge into the icy water. That moment was alway the scariest part of the film for me, and in 3D, my stomach dropped like I was on a roller coaster. A really, really high one.

But, I didn’t pay the expensive 3D ticket price because I was so excited to see Titanic in 3D… I paid the expensive 3D ticket price because I was so excited to see Titanic. Again. On the big screen. Because every time I watch this movie, I discover something new about it that I love. This time around? I found out that a part of me actually feels kinda sorry for Cal Hockley. In my previous 15 or so viewings of Titanic, I had always written Cal off as Rose’s arrogant and possessive fiancĂ© – a storybook villain. But this was the first time I ever watched the film as a grown-up who has experienced heartbreak firsthand. And, for whatever reason, all my previous perceptions about Cal were now erased. It had never occurred to me that he might actually love Rose (or at least the idea of her), and it is the heartbreak that comes from not being loved in return that causes him to lash out. When Cal puts the Heart of the Ocean around Rose’s neck for the first time, a glimmer forms in his eyes. I had always assumed it was the wealth surrounding the diamond that caused the glimmer, but for once, I felt like it was because he thought he was giving the world to the woman he loved. Later on, that glimmer is replaced by sadness caused by the realization that Rose is in love with another man. Yet, he can’t shake the hope that she may come back around, which propels him to skip out on his initial chance for a lifeboat in an effort to save her. Later on, after Rose has blatantly made her choice, Cal still doesn’t give up hope and searches for her on The Carpathia. Truthfully, it all kind of broke my heart. Of course, I am completely 150% for Rose being with Jack, but I couldn’t help feel a bit more sympathetic towards Cal’s character. After all, wouldn’t you want to frame a robbery on the jerk your still-fiancĂ© posed nude for behind your back? I would also like to take this time to apologize to Billy Zane, whose strong performance as the man scorned I have long overlooked.

The only issue with seeing a movie you love dearly in theaters fifteen years after it’s initial release is that there is a whole generation of teenagers who weren’t alive when it originally came out and may have never gotten around to seeing it. (Gasp!) To be quite honest, I am not even sure the teenage girls in my theater knew that it was a re-release. When Jack dies, there was a collective “Huh? He dies? What kind of movie is this?” and when My Heart Will Go On plays during the end credits one of them literally went, “Ohhh. So that’s where this song comes from.” Thankfully, I think they had learned in some history class that the Titanic sinks so at least that wasn’t a big shocker. That aside, seeing it on the big screen again was still a magical experience, particularly on the 100th anniversary of its sinking. If you like the movie half as much as I do, you cannot miss this opportunity to give James Cameron even more money than he already has.

Things I’ve Learned Since I First Saw Titanic In 1997:
1) When Jack says, “I saw that on the Nickelodeon,” he isn’t referring to the TV channel.
2) Jack and Rose are doing more than just “kissing naked” in that horse-drawn carriage.
3) Billy Zane made male eyeliner sexy long before Johnny Depp.
4) There’s no way that necklace would’ve stayed in Rose’s pocket that whole time.
5) I’ll never be blonde, foreign, or a supermodel, so Leonardo DiCaprio will never date me.
6) Trying to master Rose’s party trick will result in a sprained ankle.
7) And mastering Jack’s “man spitting” is not something you should show to anyone. Ever.
8) The woman who plays Old Rose wasn’t a Titanic survivor. (Where did I hear that?)
9) Rose is 17 in the movie, proving that slutty high school girls have been sending naked pictures of themselves to boys long before ‘sexting’ was a word. It also proves that you never know how old you might be when those pictures resurface. (Crap.)
10) That very last scene doesn’t actually mean everyone came back to life again…