Thursday, April 3, 2014

Some "Crude And Disgusting" Videos

Disney’s Olaffingstock

I really wanted Frozen to be socialist.  If you’ve cultivated a bad habit as I have of occasionally flipping through left-wing crap aggregators like Yahoo! or The Huffington Post, then you should already be acquainted with the viral article written by some angry Mormon blogger who charged Disney Animation Studios with promulgating the homosexual agenda through its latest mega musical hit.  How dare she attack the sacred golden calf of Disney?  Everyone loves Disney, right?  After all, they make so many great films, like The Princess and the Frog, Brother Bear, Planes, Bolt, The Hannah Montana Movie… and the list goes ever on and on.  How dare this “well behaved Mormon woman” plucked from the internet at random attempt to spin a political fiasco out of a completely innocent and apolitical children’s fairy tale financed and distributed by a company iconic for its traditional family values which hasn’t done anything remotely political in the past couple years – well, aside from acquiring and maintaining the current generation of ABC, disbanding its partnerships with flagrantly homophobic groups like, um, the Boy Scouts, and recently beginning to air TV sitcoms aimed at little kiddies about other little kiddies being raised in totally normal circumstances by a loving modern family of spouse 1, spouse 2, and their non-biological offspring?  Why on earth would she try to pervert such an endearing asexual princess-picture into some kind of subliminal gay message movie?

Having actually taken the effort to watch Frozen in its entirety without falling asleep or escaping to some time-wasting app in my hypothetical phone while my hypothetical daughters sing along in uncontained joy, and having actually read the entirety of the random Mormon grandma’s ridiculously long post, I think I know the answer.  The reason why said woman tried to call out Frozen for being a subliminal gay message movie is probably because Frozen really is a subliminal gay message movie, or at least possesses all the necessary elements to be interpreted as such a movie.  The real question to ask is not why she wrote the things that she did, as most of her analysis deconstructing the plot, background, and music of the film was textually accurate and even corroborated by liberal spectators who lauded the script for the same themes, but why the MSM called so much attention to a piece that was so poorly written and edited for grammar.  Naturally I figured that if this lady could pick up nigh 2000 seething comments just for her haphazardly worded but admittedly well argued incrimination of Frozen’s veiled gayness, then I as a legitimate Author could reel in about twice as many infuriated complaints for calling out Frozen’s even more subtly veiled socialism.

Unfortunately for my sinister and selfish devices, the only overtly socialistic thing about Frozen was Disney’s shrewd marketing ploy to sell moviegoers one thing, a full-fledged, old-school musical where characters spontaneously break into song instead of just talking to each other, under the guise of selling another thing, a non-musical, CG-animated comedy a la the witty Wreck It Ralph of the year before.  Like the champions of the political left, the studio executives probably figured they wouldn’t sell quite as many tickets if parents consciously understood just what they were paying to see, and so it was that they carefully disguised their musical in the official trailers, encouraging unwary Disney devotees to pass the ticket vendor to find out what was in the new movie, which they did, sometimes over and over and over again because the little girls for whom this was custom-made loved the music that much.  The third top-selling single on iTunes as I write, “Let it GO, let it GO! The cold never bothered me anyway…”, has incontrovertibly sealed its fate as the girl-power, liberation chorus of this generation, preferably to be sung in broad, open-floor settings that accommodate as much ballerina twirling and hair whipping and general Lindsey Stirling-impersonating as possible, which I suppose is a good thing – there being no more graceful and upright person of fame alive for young girls to impersonate than Lindsey – , but they could definitely pick a better song to accompany all their jumping and spinning.

An adorable video of still more adorable kids impersonating the most adorable Lindsey Stirling. Aaaaaaa…

… aaawwww…                    Ahem.  Sorry.  Worked myself into a bit of a trance, there.  “Now, where was I?”  Oh, now I recall: the Let It GO! phenomenon.  As I was about to say, so potent and inescapable is this phenomenon that you can literally witness the effects of its insidious venom in the checkout line at your local Target.  You will see it outside your neighbors’ house as their darling daughters bounce away to school, you will see it on the Youtube as you casually browse for unrelated music videos, and you will even see it in the company of grown adults and teenagers longing to reconnect with their more joyful, carefree childhoods.  Yet for all of its ubiquity, the #1 Top-selling title on iTunes doesn’t even belong to Let it GO! but to Pharrell William’s Happy, Frozen’s eminently superior competitor for the Oscars’ Best Original Song award, which it ultimately stole along with Best Animated Picture.

I’d like to thank the Academy for severely lowering the bar of what our children should expect from visual entertainment.  It goes without saying that Frozen’s soundtrack, conceived by the same respected mind behind children’s Broadway classics like Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, is lackluster not only by the standards Disney set through Mulan, Aladdin, and The Lion King but also by the measure of pretty much any other movie in 2013.  The Oscars voting board really had no shortage of great film songs to honor last year, from Anna Kendrick’s inventive Cups/When I’m Gone in Pitch Perfect to Coldplay’s chilling Atlas for Catching Fire to Ed Sheeran’s ironically minimalistic I See Fire rounding out the awards season in what was presumably a more action-packed Hobbit installment, but none of those were even granted a seat at the nominees’ circle out of slavish reverence for the holy name of Disney.  Of the far too abundant tunes dispersed mostly throughout Frozen’s first half, Let it GO! is the only one that’s marginally memorable, and then by no coincidence except the sheer volume that singer/actress Idina Menzel reaches in it.  While she seems to have a competent voice and has formerly won the honor of performing alongside Kristen Chenoweth in Wicked (which I only call attention to knowing that Kristen can sing, as I’ve never seen Wicked and never intend to, having been thoroughly rankled by an unholy tornado of Wizard spinoffs), the song itself is so dully written and lyrically simplistic that any 4-year-old could do a perfect cover of it; go ahead, check your Target, or go online if you feel disinclined to waste your gasoline on such a trivial pursuit.

But Let it GO! isn’t the only example of boring writing in Frozen, which is truly second to none as an epitome of Hollywood plot recycling.  Posing as a loose retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen”, the movie borrows liberally from Tangled, Shrek, and some other movie whose name escapes me wherein the heroine thinks she loves this one guy, kisses him to break the curse, and realizes when it doesn’t work that her true love is actually the other guy whom she has quickly and conveniently come to know on her great journey, the guy who really likes her but is too shy to make his feelings known until the end – you know what I’m talking about, right?  Help me out here…

No, George, it wasn’t Catching Fire, but thanks for the uninformed, utterly useless suggestion.

Anyway, for all that it plunders from other animated fairy tales, Frozen doesn’t manage to retain any of its inspirations’ witty dialogue, charming characters, or emotional storytelling.  The setup is promising, revolving around two royal sisters who are separated by their parents from early childhood because… well, that part doesn’t make much sense.  You see, Elsa, the one who teaches little girls that they have to wear dark, imposing eye shadow and do the sensual supermodel strutting act in order to look pretty, was born differently from all the other people in the kingdom of Arendelle, afflicted by God with the innate and often uncontrollable ability to bend ice to her will.  Whether she’s a Southern Water Tribe native like Katara or Northern Water Tribe citizen like Princess Yue is never properly explained, but I let that ambiguity slide. What I couldn’t so easily accept was why younger daughter Anna, the one who’s actually cute, acts a little boy-crazy, and vaguely resembles Rapunzel in both her physical appearance and awkward mannerisms, constantly berates her big sister for locking herself away when that was her parents’ doing, and why the king and queen would set the two apart in the first place.  Oh, right.  They were taking counsel from a bunch of tiny singing rock trolls.

Years later the ruling couple gets lost at sea and Elsa is finally summoned out of the closet to assume the crown and governorship of the land, but when she unleashes her powers in a burst of fury and exposes her supernatural identity to the court, the assembly turns upon her in fear and drives her far off into the mountains, where she lets it all go because she’s tired of suppressing and hiding her true self for the fragile sensibilities of the judgmental, paranoid masses.  “Conceal, don’t fear, don’t let them knoooow!”  This is the homosexual part of the movie, but hardly the part that ruins it.  In the course of her fleeing and letting it go, Elsa accidentally encases the whole dominion in frost, which doesn’t rifle her in the slightest because the cold never bothered her anyway, but nevertheless puts a serious damper on everyone else’s spirits, especially that of the obligatory male representative Kristoff, an ice salesman who’s effectively forced out of business the moment that summer unexpectedly gives way to artificial winter.  There’s a nice lesson about supply-and-demand economics snuck into the picture, but it’s also the very worst consequence that seems to transpire from Elsa’s instantaneous upheaval of the natural weather cycle, which kind of sucks all the urgency out of the ensuing mission to restore Arendelle’s summer state.  Regardless, declining profits are still spur enough to make the ice-selling elk boy join Anna on a cross-country noble quest to rescue her sister from the tallest room of the tallest tower, comfortably isolated from all the good and evil facets of human society.  I totally haven’t heard this one before.  Along the way they run into an annoying sidekick of an animate snowman who exists for no reason other than that the setting allows for an animate snowman and that the dark, chilly tone virtually mandates the inclusion of an annoying, animated character who does nothing but act like an idiot and crack bad jokes.

At the time of its release, Frozen’s promoters had doggedly emphasized the novelty of its story, which was presumably to concern the camaraderie shared by two sisters of radically juxtaposed personalities, but even in this they seem to have been adopting socialistic tactics, framing a narrative that’s decidedly old and tired as something unseen and progressive.  As with Katniss and Prim in The Hunger Games movies and books, the only significant sense in which the director ever shows us a relationship between the sisters is ironically through declining to develop any relationship at all.  Indeed, for around 90% of the picture’s run time, all the friendships, rivalries, or other connections binding the two heroines have to be imagined by the audience for themselves.  Separation is the summation of these characters’ conditions, and longing to close it the full extent of their motivations.  Where Rapunzel was moved by an insatiable interest to see the real world beyond her tower and Wreck-It Ralph naively nurtured a similarly powerful yearning for the respect and honor associated with heroic identity, Elsa just wants to be left alone, or so she thinks at first, and Anna just wants anything but to leave her alone.  Aside from a mounting desire to rip down the partially self-erected walls of Elsa’s imprisoning introversion, nothing really drives either of the sisters, and the supporting characters are all just as flat and boring the way they’re developed.  In fact, the writers could probably have vastly improved the whole story had they simply stricken every unmemorable and unattractive character from the narrative and just focused on Anna.  Now that would have been a fairy tale for the ages!

Another guy who’s way out of her league.  To be clear, this is the first GIF we’ve ever put on The Author’s Files; supposedly it’s one of the more popular and useful inventions of the 21st century, along with the pound key and the Like button.  It’s really annoying and distracting, right? the way it cycles through over and over again, like the 15-record playlist of KISS FM?  I’m not accustomed to cussing, but I swear these things drive me crazy, and this one is even more distracting than most because Anna is the one cycling through over and over again.  Oh, the agony!                  But soooo worth it...

Instead we get bogged down in undefined bores like the aforementioned Kristoff, a cross between the self-described delivery boy of Shrek and Flynn Rider of Tangled, even parading around a personified deer that’s basically a ripoff of the latter guy’s rival-turned-loyal steed Maximus (whose model actually appears briefly in the film with no discernible changes apart from a new paint job), but the ice merchant has neither the ogre’s nor the vagabond’s natural endowments of humor and charm, being nothing more than a requisite male escort across hostile lands fraught with numerous monstrosities like little rock trolls, dogs, abominable, Rudolph-esque snow giants, and – that’s it, really.  Then there’s the buck-toothed snowman, who’s an even sadder character still both in writing and artistic design.  “Moon Donkey” at has advanced a rather compelling conspiracy theory after watching Frozen eight times in the theater, namely that Olaf was digitally spliced into the movie mid-production because focus groups thought the movie was too dark and somber in tone for young children to handle (a presumption which would logically bar young children from experiencing such classics as The Lion King, Bambi, or Beauty And The Beast; heck, I couldn’t stand to watch the forest fire or wolf chase scenes as a kid). While I wouldn’t go quite as far as he does, Donkey’s right in pointing out that the snowman exerts no bearing on the plot whatsoever; the other companions rarely interact with him in dialogue or acknowledge his presence, and none of the few important actions he does take, like springing Anna out of the locked room (why did the bad boyfriend lock her in the room, anyway? Isn’t that a relatively risky and error-prone way to kill someone off?), are ones which couldn’t be accomplished by other story devices.  He’s supposed to fill a kind of comic relief role, but instead he just comes across as comically stupid.  “I don’t have a brain,” he brags in nasal deadpan.  Damned right.  He doesn’t have a real purpose to his name either, except to be what Moon Donkey calls “the dumbest looking character I’ve ever seen in a cartoon”, and so he is.

In fact, most of the animation in Frozen is as decidedly unimaginative as the storytelling, merely on par with the plethora of generically colorful CG Saturday-morning fare with which we were inundated last year.  The movie’s major proponents made a particularly big hullabaloo about the beautiful snow that Disney animated for this picture.  Granted, it looks just as cool as the snow that Disney animated long ago for Bambi, or that Pixar animated for Monsters Inc., or that Betheseda Softworks animated for Skyrim (more on that Saturday), but it doesn’t look markedly better.  People have been animating snow for a really long time now, along with water, fire, and plasma, all of which are more technically and aesthetically awesome in motion.

In the end, Frozen wasn’t quite the socialist movie that I was hoping for, nor am I fully convinced that it must be read as the gay movie that the other lady was hoping for, though it arguably has all the allegorical ingredients to be interpreted that way.  If it does purposely push any political agenda, it’d be nothing more than a multiculturalist platitude, as evidenced by the official 25-language music video released by Disney in a kind of veiled comment that western, American society is no superior to Mexican, Chinese, Russian, etc.  Neither a communist nor capitalist, a feminist nor traditionalist, a religious nor anti-religious film, the only policy adamantly promoted by this forgettable fixer-upper is its own mediocrity.

Thanks to the cataclysmic risks of man-made global warming outlined by the United National International Panel to promote fear of Global Warming, err, Climate Change, our children’s children’s children’s grandchildren should only have a couple more centuries to play in the snow come wintertime, so when your kids next ask you to put on Frozen for the umpteenth time, you would better amuse and engage their hyperactive bodies to ask them: “Do you want to build a snowman?”  After all, it may be the last time in forever they get.

Grade rating: C+ (for scattered funny parts, serviceably rendered snow, and Anna)

Correction: It appears I goofed on multiple counts in the point about Let it GO!!!’s Oscar competition.  Pitch Perfect was actually released in 2012 and Cups was written something like eighty years ago by A.P. Carter, going through several variations before reaching us in its current, radio-ready state.  And the movie wasn’t very good anyway.  I just caught it on TV and Fat Amy, er, Fat Patricia was the funniest thing the movie had going for it.  Everything else was acca-awkward.  Maybe I don’t have a proper appreciation for chick flicks.

Iron Man 33 Years Old
Are iron gringos falling from the sky?

Iron Man 3 is a sequel that was made just for the sake of making a sequel, and as such it exemplifies one of the most detestable and worthless species of blockbusters.  It doesn’t reveal any aspects of its hero’s complex that we were previously oblivious to, nor does it force him to grapple with any terribly interesting demons, hidden in his eyes or without them.

– What the heck are you laughing at over there?  Oh gosh, you did not just – are you kidding me?  I’m not telling them that!  Sorry, folks.  One of our hitherto anonymous press correspondents, Alf Broker, wants me to tell you what he just did to himself upon hearing that horrible Imagine Dragons joke, but I’m not going to tell you about it.  Trust me; this is one place you want to hide the truth, for me to shelter you.  Good grief, Alf… that’s right.  Go crawling away from the mess you’ve made.  Geez…

And that brings me back to Iron Man 3, which at the very least is one of the most impressive and financially successful displays in deceptive marketing techniques ever made, raking in more dough than any other film of 2013 by promising audiences an epic clash between Tony Stark and his most realistic, recognizable nemesis yet, the Mandarin, an Islamic terrorist akin to Osama Bin Laden who considers himself a “teacherer” and menacingly sneers that “you’ll never see me coming”.  But as pretty much the whole, Marvel-following world knows by this point, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin isn’t the real bad guy; what’s more, the Mandarin himself is but an invention of the real villain, a white, chauvinistic, American corporatist who needs to create a scapegoat for explosions that he himself set off in the course of testing his so-called Extremis technology on particularly unstable human subjects.  Indeed, the movie itself compares this hapless, comical ac-torr to Osama Bin Laden in dialogue, thus solidifying its status as one of the most glaringly and abrasively obvious 9/11 Truther films to penetrate the mainstream.

That doesn’t preclude it from being entertaining at times, and I’m not even sure that the political message is meant to be taken all that seriously, as the whole film is written with such a manic, detached absurdity that it’s hard for audiences to form a genuine emotional investment in any of the chaotic action that plays out.  Even more self-absorbed and ludicrous than the dreadfully action-deprived second film, Iron Man 3 is chock-full of unrealistic, snappy dialogue and ridiculous scenarios that you’d be hard pressed to find in a Dark Knight or Thor movie, scenarios that never really build upon what audiences already know about the characters.  Why does Tony buy his girlfriend Pepper a giant stuffed bunny for her birthday?  Oh, because he’s eccentric and crazy. Why does he give his mansion address to the reporter with a boastful challenge for the Mandarin to come and duke it out, then let Pepper into the house after issuing such an invitation to wreak destruction?  Oh, because he’s suicidal and crazy.  Why does Tony have regular anxiety attacks and keel over into a gasping, heaving wreck whenever he’s questioned about his past by adoring fanboys? Oh, because he’s emotionally distraught and crazy.

Nice of you to come out of your antisocial billionaire’s shell after two movies, Stark, and now you can intermittently narrate the story for us too!  Can you also explain exactly what the superpowers or motives of real villain Aldrich Killian are?  It seems like the writers kind of made up his chemically augmented heat powers as they rolled; even War Machine/Iron Patriot did a double-take when he discovered that the bad guys have fire-breathing properties on top of glowing skin, suit-immobilizing grip, self-destruct, super-strength, and invincibility.  Well, at least they have invincibility until Gwyneth Paltrow socks them in the head with some metal object – surviving the detonation of an Iron Man suit that’s assembled around you is one thing, but taking a beam to the skull is in a whole other ballpark. What does Mr. Killian want to achieve, anyway?  At one moment he’s expressing some diabolical mad scientist’s scheme to push the human brain into the next stage of its evolution, then he wants to profit from the disabled by selling physically regenerating, Tron-like drugs, and then he seemingly wants to exact revenge against the president for letting the fat cat oil companies run scot-free after some spill or another.

I guess it doesn’t matter so long as you bought your ticket solely to see CG mayhem and more Robert Downey Jr. wisecracks, both of which Iron Man 3 has in much higher quantities than IM2, if not The Avengers or IM1.  Unlike the second movie, which action-wise had just the final battle and the race track scene going for it, this third one features at least three major and fabulously executed set pieces, by the sea, in the air, and at an oil refinery, but the drudgery of waiting for these spectacles to eventually come around is still a lot to bear for the time-strapped escapist.  There’s a funny scene early on wherein Tony’s friend is trying to inform him how Killian is showing Pepper his “big brain” via holographic projection, but he isn’t getting the point through very clearly.  The movie doesn’t do a very job of that either.

Grade rating: C+ (for scattered funny parts and serviceably rendered supersoldiers)

Have you ever run into somebody who said, “Heck, no, I don’t like no Screen Junkies?”  Screen Junkies has to be the third most delicious Youtube channel on the whole danged planet.  (With the first two being, well, you know.)

Feature review by Barack Hussein Obama – Noah Smidgeon of Truth In This Film

Grade rating: D(isgusting)

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