Sunday, December 01, 2013

Double Review Day: Frozen Book Thief

I sit here tonight, eager to play more of Dishonored GOTYE, which I just started yesterday, but reluctant to do so without taking care of some overdue responsibilities. I've seen two movies in the past weeks and I feel that you should know about both of them. You know who you are. And if I don't write these reviews tonight, already at least a day late, who knows when I will ever write them.

Disney's Frozen:

I wish I could say I was surprised by this movie, but I'd managed to totally avoid any trailers for it and I didn't hear anything about it till the buzz exploded that it was just a fantastic film. I'm happy to say that I was not in the least disappointed. I went in expecting a great film and I got one. It's easily the best film in Disney's "Disney Film" repertoire of feature animations since Beauty and the Beast. I mean, sure Wreck it Ralph and the most recent Winnie the Pooh were both just stand out amazing movies from the same studio, but this one FEELS like classic Disney. More importantly, though, it feels like classic Disney that is relevant. It breaks molds, it's not a romance, there's romance in it, but it's not about a girl getting a guy or vice versa, it's about being able to connect with the people you're closest to, which is broader picture type stuff.

This movie is layered. It's filled with metaphors, and it has to be. The story is bigger than it really has time for, and frequently feels rushed. There's more than a few spots where everything feels really cramped together, and in a perfect world and in a perfect movie, it wouldn't feel that way. Story wise, the pacing is probably the thing with the most issues. I don't know a good way that this movie could have fixed this. Maybe it needed to be longer, maybe it needed a few less events. Maybe if it didn't have to have as much comedy as it did, or didn't have to be a children's movie it could have cut some of the "fluff" but the fluff was as much of a reason to watch the movie as anything else. Olaf is adorable, and honestly, he's the type of character who is usually cast with a voice that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but he's not annoying, his voice is whinny to me, it's soft and he just sounds so sweet, which works because he is just such a sweet character. Another weak point for the film is the song writing. Some of the songs just don't work very well for me. They lack a strong structure even though they have some great lines, and they don't hold the scene together well enough.

These are just rough edges though. It's no a perfect movie, though it felt like with some really careful polishing it could have been. The story is beautiful, complex, and loaded with interesting characters and twists. Many of the songs are noteworthy and extremely well done, getting to the core of the characters and the scene and moving the plot along briskly with lots of character development that works. The characters are very well done, though there are a few two dimensional characters that could have had more depth. This movie is a must watch.

The Book Thief:

This movie is just beautiful. It feels like a movie from my childhood that I forgot. The pacing just feels like something from another decade, everything about it feels ancient and it fits very much with the themes and ideas. There's more happening than just the main plot line, all of the characters have something going on. This movie is able to convey a lot of sub-textual story telling because of the well know historical background that allows it to include a great deal of history that would otherwise make it very much impossible to tell the whole story in a meaningful way.

From the cinematography to the music and dialog and characters, this movie is simply an excellent example of film making. I hadn't been impressed by almost anything I had seen at all this year until I saw this movie, and it was like waking up. It was warm and sweet, funny and sad, beautiful and painful and moving. I can recommend this movie without reservation to absolutely anyone, as everything about it is extremely well done. I am honestly having trouble thinking of any really rough patches that kept this movie from being amazing. There are a few weak points in the acting, which shouldn't be taken at face value, because this movie rides so heavily on its child actors it would be astounding if it didn't have those moments, and what few there are barely cause a hitch in the pacing of the scene.

I haven't read the book that this movie is based on. That doesn't necessarily mean much, but it's always weird to me. There are so few book to movie translations I have ever enjoyed, maybe 5 or seven. I do want to read this book very badly now, and see how the movie holds up after reading the book. It would be absolutely fascinating. If you have the chance, though, definitely watch this movie. It's beautiful, heart wrenching, and extremely well crafted.

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