Category Archives: unpopular opinions

Why I Think “Frozen” Is An Overrated Film

*this entry will contain SPOILERS

I already mentioned in my previous post that I thought Frozen falls quite short in practically every aspect that Tangled did better, that is except for the songs. I maintain this idea as I’ve seen Frozen for a second time. Now, before I get lynched once more by those loudmouthed idiots over the internet who believe shouting louder makes them more correct, I’m not saying that Frozen is bad; I’m simply saying that is it an overrated film. It’s not bad by any account; it’s just not as well-made as compared to Tangled, nor does it even stand on its own next to Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, or even the non-musical Wreck-It Ralph.

An Organic Unity of Story, Song, and Spectacle

The really good Disney movies have an organic unity of story, song, and spectacle. The story is simple, but not condescending. By condescending, I mean it doesn’t treat its audience like children. Beauty and the Beast is one; it may be the most fairytale of the Disney Renaissance as well as the most girly, but its simple but intelligently written storyline is appealing for the kids and not distracting for the adults. Its script respects the intelligence of the audience, unlike Frozen. Remember Anna’s resurrection scene when Olaf mentioned something about “self-sacrifice being able to thaw a frozen heart?” Thank you for pointing out the obvious, Olaf! Thank you for ruining that scene which I thought was clichéd as hell, and which was bordering on being a deus ex machina. So there, we have one of Frozen’s problems; a distractingly written script which looks down on its audience. Another recent Disney film had that problem; it was The Princess and the Frog. If any children’s film is guilty of being too condescending, it would be that.

“But surely, Evil Dr. Bok,” you ask, “Surely the songs make up for the script’s shortcomings?” Uh, yes, in a pretty lazy way, and no that isn’t a good thing. Disney songs are good, but they contribute to the narrative drive of the film. Again, I would give the example of Beauty and the Beast as that film is the gold standard for Disney musicals in the 90s. Every song, and I mean every song, is absolutely necessary as it contributes some character development as well as help in the film’s narrative. The opening song number establishes Belle and her status in the village, how she feels that she doesn’t fit quite in, and it also establishes one of the key characters, Gaston. See the economy in that song number? See how it merges into the film’s narrative?  That’s the organic unity I’m talking about. What does the Olaf song have to do with the story? Fine, it’s cute, and the novelty of seeing a snowman in summer is fun, but what does it contribute to the entire narrative? Maybe I need a copy of the lyrics to fully appreciate it, but for now, it would seem that there’s no other purpose for the song other than, “Hey we have a talking snowman here. Let him sing.”

And for those particularly close listeners, see how every single song in Beauty and the Beast, while particularly catchy, feels organic? “What do you mean by that, Evil Dr. Bok?” you ask, and I reply, “There is a consistency in the musicality of the song numbers and the score.” We know it was Alan Menken who scored the film, and we also know that it was Alan Menken who composed the song’s music. That’s the consistency I’m talking about. The problem with Frozen was that there is a disjoint between the film’s score and its songs.

Speaking of musical consistency , there isn’t even a good consistency within the songs themselves. We’ve got the opening chant, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”, “For the First Time in Forever”, that duet with the Gaston wannabe, the inevitable “Let It Go”, and the Troll and Olaf songs. If you have a copy of the OST, try to listen to them to see what I mean. Now try to listen to Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Hercules, and to an extent, Tangled (except for the opening song number). Each song has a musical consistency with each other. While some songs maybe too comedic at times, it works within the film’s world itself. Some songs in Frozen are too poppy; definitely at odds with the opening chant in the film. While the chant does give an interesting sound, the succeeding pop tunes tend to diminish it, which is why when we finally hear that chant again when Elsa finally thaws Arendelle, one can’t help but feel that the motif was underdeveloped.

As for the spectacle, well, I guess I can’t complain much about Frozen’s look; the ice motifs are definitely fun to look at (the “Let it Go” sequence, I’ll admit, had me forming goosebumps. And if there’s something that Disney has perfected, it’s coming up with the appropriate “MTV” for its musical numbers (I don’t mean that as a derogatory remark, by the way). Which leads me to one minor (more of nitpicking) complaint…

Where’s the villain?

Beauty and the Beast had Gaston; Tangled, despite having way too many antagonists, both real and pseudo, had Mother Gothel; Sleeping Beauty had Malificent; Wreck-It Ralph had King Candy; and The Lion King had Scar. What did Frozen have? A snivelly old man from Weasel Town, and a Gaston wannabe who’s character reversal is not well established because we were paying too much attention to the songs. Yes, this film meant to examine the sisterhood relationship of Anna and Elsa, and I appreciate that, but I have to admit I missed seeing an actual villain in this film. Tangled, surprisingly, had one very interesting villain. Gothel wasn’t as established as Scar or Gaston, but she makes up for it for her slyness and sheer manipulation. She managed to keep that flower hidden for god knows how many years. She was able to sneak into the castle to kidnap Rapunzel as an old lady, AS AN OLD LADY! She climbed up the terrace AS AN OLD LADY! My goodness I just realized how cool that is! That and she managed to manipulate Rapunzel into singing to for the next 18 years, she manipulated the Stabbington Brothers into working for her, and she stabbed Eugene Fitzherbert at the back! And she was supposed to be one of the “weaker” villains in Disney lore! What did Frozen have? Not much.

Final Words

The really good Disney films have stand out musical numbers, and to that aspect, I will again say that Frozen’s musical numbers really stand out. They are hummable, catchy, and indeed well composed. That, however, is its “downfall”. I thought that Frozen’s musical numbers are distracting in the sense that it distracts you from the problematic script, and the (I hate using the word) cliché storyline. In the end, one remembers the songs, not the story. Is this a good thing? Not exactly. Always remember that  film is still primarily a narrative driven medium, and regardless of how good the songs and eye candy is, the story, songs, and spectacle must be unified.  In this aspect, Tangled beats Frozen in practically every other department except for the songs.

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Blue is the Warmest Color vs. Shame (an R-rated/NSFW post)

*disclaimer: For my students who follow this blog, I would advice that you guys skip reading this. Most of the stuff I’m talking about here doesn’t concern you guys, and I also wouldn’t want to be directly responsible for your deformation of character, so please STAY AWAY FROM THIS ENTRY!!!

I don’t usually disagree with James Berardinelli as much as I disagree (albeit in a charming way) to Armond White, but my goodness a part Berardinelli’s review of Blue is the Warmest Color goes like this:

“Watching Blue is the Warmest Color provides viewers with that rarest of motion picture opportunities: the ability to lose oneself in the life of another for three hours and to emerge having felt something.” (Berardinelli, 2013)

Yeah, I sure felt something after browsing through that tripe: DIRTYAnd I seriously couldn’t figure out what warrants the 3 hour running time of Blue is the Warmest Color. Heck, Shame was roughly less than 2 hours, had the same amount of sex and nudity, but while I did feel dirty watching  it, it sure is nowhere near as shameful (no pun intended) as Blue‘sIs it because Blue‘s lesbian sequences are ultimately the only reason for watching it, unlike Shame? Is it because despite its shallowness, Shame actually features decent storytelling unlike Blue‘s preachy nature, where we are explicitly told that love chooses no genders, sexes, etc.?

What do I mean? Remember that scene is Shame where Michael Fassbender‘s character invites his girlfriend over at a motel room for some shagging? Nothing happened; Fassbender and the girl didn’t bone. Rather, the implication goes that Fassbender couldn’t get an erection, or he couldn’t bring it to himself to have sex with a girl that he seems to genuinely love. The girl leaves the room. You know the scene which follows, right? Fassbender banging a prostitute, finishes, and again feels sorry for himself. Absolutely no words explicitly saying that Fassbender’s character couldn’t make a decent relationship with another person because of his sexual addiction. This is good storytelling, we see the effects on the person, we are not told. This is probably why I felt less dirty watching Shame over Blue.

Of course, I’m not wholeheartedly in agreement with Shame. If anything, the explicit sexual content of the film makes it almost as bad as Blue is the Warmest Color. it just so happened that Steve McQueen is a far more superior director than  Abdellatif Kechiche. That, however, doesn’t entirely justify the existence of these two films. Both are basically sexploitation in nature that you’re pretty much better off watching porn instead of these two arthouse films pretending to be profound because of their use of shock. In Shame, it’s showing off Michael Fassbender’s flaccid willy. In Blue is the Warmest Color, it’s the lesbian sex scene between the two girls.

Besides, while I do acknowledge that sex is a completely natural and necessary human act, there are other things art can talk about, you know? What exactly? Here’s the top three things that come to mind: a boy meeting his first crush, a boy who wants a cookie but couldn’t get one because he already way too much earlier on, and two best friends, a guy and a girl, who need to break their friendship because the guy’s romantic relationship is already suffering.

A Case of Double Standards: A Homophobe and a Child Rapist

English: Roman Polanski in Paris at the lunch ...

English: Roman Polanski in Paris at the lunch of the César awards nominees Français : Roman Polanski au déjeuner des nommés des César du cinéma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orson Scott Card at Life, the Universe, & Ever...

Orson Scott Card at Life, the Universe, & Everything at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I present to you the case of Orson Scott Card and Roman Polanski, two controversial artists of today. Card is the author of the absolutely fantastic Ender’s Game (which was adapted quite properly recently by Gavin Hood), and Polanski is the director of Rosemary’s Baby and The Pianist. While both are admittedly good at their craft, both have been put under fire for their actions.

Card is controversial for his views on gay marriage. He is not a supporter of this issue and was (take note, WAS) a member of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization which heavily campaigns against gay marriage. Obviously these views have made Card very unpopular, and almost immediately, upon hearing of a film adaptation of Ender’s Game, vocal critics as well as members of the LGTB community have called for a blacklist of the film, as well as every work of Orson Scott Card. Even the news of him being a writer of a new Superman series was met with fierce opposition, eventually forcing DC to cancel the project. As such, we have one artist who is practically anathema to most members of the mainstream media because of his political views, a novelist who wrote one of the best science fiction works of all time, and created of one of the most memorable protagonists in sci-fi history.

On the other hand, we have Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski. He came under fire in the 70s when he was convicted of drugging and sodomizing an underage girl. Let that sink in for a while; Roman Polanski was convicted of drugging and sodomizing an underage girl. I cannot remember the exact details but Polanski eventually found a way to fly out of the United States and has been living somewhere in Europe, never to return to the States as his arrival would mean his arrest. In other words, the guy’s a bloody fugitive.

In 2009, however, Polanski was finally arrested, but the reactions that followed are nothing short of bewildering. Several people actually rallied for his release. Polanski’s supported mentioned that it was quite unfair for him to be arrested in his 70s. Take note, “unfair”. It is unfair for a wanted fugitive to be arrested; a fugitive who, in the 70s, drugged and raped a minor. And it wasn’t just any rape, mind you, Polansky sodomized the girl, a minor, somebody below 18 years of age. And this man actually pleaded “guilty” during his initial trial. And this man actually has people rallying behind his release, a man whose actions are far worse than one who simply believes that it is wrong for two men or two women to marry one another.

If this isn’t considered as a case of double standards, as well as hypocrisy to the highest level, I don’t know what is.

Thoughts on “Man of Steel”

*This will be extremely short as I’m in the middle of something.

I’ve got to hand it to the marketing department of Warner Bros. If anything, Man of Steel is such a well-marketed piece of work that it definitely succeeded in creating a buzz. Add the fact that it was produced by Christopher Nolan, we’ve got a film that will be highly anticipated. And it’s usually when a film is heavily marketed that I can’t help but feel that something quite possibly be wrong.

Before I hear the multitude of angry mob crying out for my blood, let me quell down the incoming hate as this film wasn’t the extreme disappointment that is Prometheus (seriously, I can’t believe I fell for that film’s marketing). But it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t help feel that this film is somewhat lacking in something.

If there’s anything I enjoyed about the film, it’s Zack Snyder‘s staging of the action sequences. He doesn’t revert to his “Snyder-Cam” for his action sequences: the action in Man of Steel is relentless. It’s a brawl. It’s a fistfight on steroids. It’s, well, manly. And it’s really refreshing to finally see Superman fight brigands as strong as he is. There are other good things about the film, but most of what I have to say have already been mentioned in other reviews. For now, all I can say is that I enjoyed the fact that I’ve finally seen Superman in action.

On the other hand, I can sense some comic book fans that what they saw on screen isn’t Superman. One of my friends said that “for me, Christopher Reeve is STILL Superman.” Obviously he didn’t like the film but I can see where he’s coming from. Superman fights for truth, justice, and the American Way. Superman is a boy scout. Superman, with all his strength and morality, makes him an admittedly bland character. And David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan’s attempts to reinvent the character to be relevant in today’s cynical age, while interesting, resulted in a character who you know is the Last Son of Krypton, but isn’t. This Kal El is too brooding and too humorless to be relateable to the fans, and this, I understand, can be quite difficult for some people to get over.

Overall, however, Man of Steel is a well-made, decently written re-imagining of a classic character. I certainly got some minor issues with Superman himself in this film, but Snyder’s direction of the set-pieces, as well as the world of the film, got me hooked in it that it makes the film experience worthwhile. It’s certainly no Dark Knight, Spider-Manor Avengers (and thankfully isn’t Superman Returns), but this is still a solid superhero film for the summer.

Oscars 2012 Rants and Hopefuls

The live telecast of the 2012 Academy Awards will be tomorrow (it’s currently a hot and sunny Sunday morning here in the Philippines, Feb. 26). Unfortunately,  unlike last year’s broadcast, there won’t be any live updates from my Tumblr as I’m no longer a part of the 99%.

It’s not that much of a deal for this year, though. I haven’t seen much from this year’s batch of Best Picture nominees, and the films which my friend, A.g. and I were hoping to be nominated were snubbed (Drive for example). Ryan Gosling was snubbed for the Best Actor nomination, as well as Albert Brooks for his role as the main antagonist from Drive.

On a side note, however, I guess that this year is actually quite special in the sense that A.g. and I finally had the same opinion of a film. For the first time in a long while, both of us agree that David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a piece of shit film. He found Rooney Mara‘s acting as very “Filipino”, while I thought that it was nothing but a splendid looking grind-house feature. Thus, for those whining about  Dragon Tattoo getting snubbed for the Best Picture film, chill-out. It deserved the snub coz it’s a shit movie.

I wouldn’t know much about the Acting Nominations as I haven’t seen much of the performances save two: Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spyand Rooney Mara for Dragon Tattoo. I thought Gary Oldman playing a lead protagonist role is refreshing to see. He plays the role with such restraint that it’s a pleasure seeing him mellow unlike his usual hammy but effective performances for his villainous roles from The Professional and The Book of Eli. As for Rooney Mara, does she deserve the nomination and should she win? In a sense, yes: her nomination is well earned. She underwent an extensive physical change, and appeared naked on film. That alone should be Oscar worthy. *wink*wink*

Regarding my Oscar hopefuls, some nominees from the technical categories of the films seemed interesting. My money’s on Rise of the Planet of the Apes for Best Visual Effects. Those are some of the best performance capture scenes I’ve seen since Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. The visual effects of Transformers 3D is pretty awesome too, definitely something you’d expect from a Michael Bay film. But is it mindblowing enough for an Oscar win? I’m not entirely too sure. The same would be for Deathly Hallows 2‘s Visual Effects nomination: though it looks pretty on screen, it isn’t as groundbreaking as Rise of the Apes’ visual candy. I haven’t seen Hugo and Real Steel yet though, so I cannot say much about that. I find it strange that The Tree of Life wasn’t nominated for its Visual Effects as they were indeed one of 2011’s prettiest visual effects on film (not to mention that it wasn’t a blockbuster film)

But as for the Best Picture and Best Directing nominees, who is on my hopefuls list? Straight up, I want Terrence Malick to win Best Directing for The Tree of Life. It is definitely one of the best movies of 2011, and the direction alone for the coming-of-age scenes is one of the history books. And kudos to Malick for narrowly navigating the film away from pretentiousness. In the hands of a lesser talented director, this film would be standing high and mighty alongside Satan’s Alley in winning the coveted Crying Monkey award. Knowing the Oscar, however, I’m sure that the Best Picture film will be given to a film which nobody in the general movie-going audience knows and cares about.

Cheers to the current pretentiousness of the Academy! May next year be a better one!

A Potentially Unpopular Opinion on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version)

So I’ve just seen the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Frankly, I’m not too happy. Granted, the performance of Noomi Rapace is indeed the best thing about the film. However, it all strikes me as an overlong, pulp film. The elements of pulp fiction is evident: grisly murders, sex,  nudity, a serial killer with an M.O., and two characters who shouldn’t fall in love with each other but do anyway.

Seeing the Swedish version makes me think twice of watching Fincher‘s take on the book. I’m not too impressed with the source material for I find it a bit “shallow”. Fine; violence against women is deplorable, but showing a 2hour 30 minute film about a Nazi misogynist seems a bit too overlong to shove the “violence against women is bad” message.

Oh well, to each his own, I guess.

At least Fincher’s version has Rooney Mara in it. That’s reason enough for me to watch the film.