MovieBob - IntermissionLet's Talk About the Ending of FrozenMovieBob - Intermission - RSS 2.0
And then it clicks. This is a two-Princess movie (I would not want to be a parent of two daughters trying to work out Halloween costumes this year), Anna has already landed Captain America Somewhere-South-Of-Norway, this whole thing was touched off by poor self-isolating Elsa's failure to believe (and this is Disney, so you must believe!) in Love At First Sight, Kristoff needs to learn the same lesson, so therefore that has to be why he's here: He'll be Elsa's Prince. A change in formula, to be sure, but it gets us to more-or-less the same place - with the value-added feature of letting Disney sell two new dolls this year.
As if to drive the point all the way home: Kristoff already knows about (and doesn't fear) magic and has a more-than-professional... "thing" about ice. When they reach Elsa's castle, he moons over her creation like a relic-appraiser at a newly-unearthed Grecian Temple. The meet-cute writes itself: Whoa... I've never seen anything so-" ::enter Elsa:: "...beautiful!" Talk-talk-talk, romantic-yearning song from Kristoff (he's voiced by GLEE's Johnathan Groff) big fight-scene when Hans shows up and Weselton's goons try to do their thing, good guys win, believing in Disney-love gives Elsa the serenity and self-control she needs to dial back the snowpocalypse, double-wedding, happy ending, please recycle your 3D glasses and Olaf the Snowman plushies are available in the lobby.
Instead, the sisters' basic personality issues (Anna's immaturity, Elsa's self-hate) screw things up again: Anna gets hit by a blast of ice magic and Elsa chases them both off with a giant Snow Monster... which proves less effective in keeping Weselton's assassins from getting in and starting a fight that fails to end in deaths on either side (the film does a really good job of establishing how deadly and powerful a villain Elsa could potentially become if she wanted to) because Hans is on hand to beg her not to be "the monster they think you are." Granted, she still gets knocked-out and wakes up chained in Arendelle's dungeon... but it could've gone worse, considering.
Meanwhile, it turns out the ice-magic that hit Anna is going to gradually freeze her heart solid; a condition which can only be cured by (what else?) True Love. So it's back to the castle to secure True Love's First Kiss from Hans, who (of course) buys into the premise without hesitation: He's quite sure love would fix the problem...
...if he actually loved Anna.
The Handsome Prince was The Bad Guy. THE WHOLE TIME.
Whole generation of children under 10? The good news is, the sensation of shock will go away. The bad news? That dawning pit-in-your-stomach suspicion that nothing is really safe or sacred and anyone or anything can turn on you or let you down at any time... that's here to stay. We call it reality, welcome aboard.
To twist the knife further, Hans is one of those petty, especially hateable Disney bad guys whose goals are too "real" and tangibly-scaled to be perversely admirable (read: He doesn't want to rule the world or anything.) He's the youngest in his family, he didn't want a meager inheritance, so he figured he'd PUA his way into Arendelle's royal family and find a way to discreetly murder Elsa and become king... a plan he's been revising on the fly since Elsa's blowup. Current plan: Let Anna die, execute Elsa for the murder. He's creepy because he's recognizable, a fairytale version of a Law & Order antagonist. In the pantheon, he's down in the gutter with Gaston LeGume (yeah, apparently Gaston had a last name), who's between-the-lines motif seemed to be "probable rapist" - or rather it probably would've been were he living now and not in the Middle Ages.
What a douchebag.
In all seriousness, though, I've seen a lot of "big twists" in recent movies and Frozen's is one of the most well-executed I've been privy to in awhile - regardless of it being in an animated film for children. It makes sense, it doesn't leave any plot holes or questions... and yeah, it worked on me. I didn't see it coming, even though I spent a lot of Act 2 thinking "Y'know, it's unusual that the closest thing we have to a villain here is Weselton, who's way too ineffective to be scary."
But it's so well hidden because it's so blindlingly simple: Hans isn't a master-schemer. He's technically responsible for Elsa's freakout, but it wasn't his intention - his whole plan was "fool Anna into thinking I'm a good man," and since there's zero direct foreshadowing (no narrowed eyes, no explicit double-entendres) he gets to fool the audience, too. He even sails through the "does this person have any other reason to be here?" test, since his presence serves two direct functions: Anna's love-interest and the person keeping track of home-base so Anna can go questing. Even divorced from genre and franchise-legacy, it's simply damn good Screenwriting 101 stuff - and I can attest from the screening I attended that the reveal seemed to surprise basically the whole audience... but it hit kids in the target age group like a ton of bricks.