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New Escapist Column! On the Quiet Revolution of Disney’s Modern Princess Movies…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Encanto this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the animated “princess” movies being produced by Disney.

Disney has always been associated with these movies, dating back to the breakout success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. However, the company has also long had a complicated relationship to them, and in particular the way in which they are perceived as movies aimed at young girls. However, the past decade has seen the studio clever and consistently reinventing this archetypal “fairy tale” sort of story for the twenty-first century, to the point that it’s arguably that the run of movies from Tangled onwards has been the most consistent of the studio’s output.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On The Spell “Wicked” Cast On a Generation of Disney Princesses…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With news that Jon M. Chu will be directing Universal’s upcoming adaptation of Wicked, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show’s impressive, if incomplete, legacy.

Although Wicked has not been directly adapted for the screen yet, it casts a long shadow. An entire generation of Disney feature films have taken their cues from Wicked, at least superficially – it is a vital part of the conversation around live action films like Oz the Great and Powerful and Maleficent, an obvious point of comparison for Frozen. However, it is interesting that despite the superficial similarities these projects all share with Wicked – a revisionist villain-centric take on a classic property – none of them have been as bold or as radical as Wicked.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Frozen II

Frozen II is solid.

In fact, it might even be a little stronger than Frozen, on the whole. Of course, Frozen was the breakout Disney animated hit of the decade, crossing the one billion mark and turning Let It Go into a genuine pop phenomenon. However, Frozen always felt a little rough around the edges when compared to Disney’s other animated princess-centric movies of the decade; The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Moana and maybe even Brave.

Pretty cool.

Frozen II arrives with a lot of the familiar problems of sequels. The original film was populated by characters who filled a story function, whereas sequels often have to create story functions to accommodate characters who are surplus to requirement. Kristof felt largely unnecessary in Frozen, but he feels particularly unnecessary in Frozen II. Similarly, the success of the original film often encourages sequels to dive deep into a conjured mythology, to over-explain something that requires no explanation. Frozen II does this with Elsa herself, trying too hard to explain her.

As a result, Frozen II suffers from some awkward pacing. It stutters and starts. It often gets slowed down checking in on familiar characters, or delivering reams of exposition for unnecessary back story. However, the irony of all this is that Frozen II has much more interesting things to say than Frozen, and is much more confident about saying them. Frozen II retreats from the logical conclusions of its strongest arguments, but it is still a surprisingly bold film for a sequel to one of the most successful children’s films ever made.

Lighten up.

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