"It may appeal to children of a certain age and innocence"
Back in 2012, Russian company Wizart Animation produced an adaptation of this classic story by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The film was a critical success in Russia, receiving much praise and positive reviews from critics, adults and their children, which, (with the possible exception of Stalingrad from last year), goes someway to explain why the Russian film industry doesn’t generate the same attention and recognition as Japanese and Korean cinema, as well as the obvious Western productions.
So, being a fan of both animation and children’s films, I was optimistic about an American production, especially given the success of Disney’s musical Frozen which grossed over $1.2bn, breaking numerous records in the process and even bagging an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Such is the originality and brilliance of Disney and Pixar animations; others are struggling to keep up. Their success is not just down to the artwork and animation, but the storytelling and narratives. I suggest watching the opening ten minutes of Up for how to show relationships between characters on screen and use a musical score to evoke a smorgasbord of feelings and emotions throughout this duration. It is as good as any feature film you could wish to see.
Peter Docter and Andrew Stanton, amongst others at Pixar, have raised the bar so high with their work, namely the Toy Story franchise and Up from 2009 that when reviewing other animated features, in this case The Snow Queen there is now an exceedingly high benchmark.
But I digress. In comparison to those aforementioned features, The Snow Queen is barely a pale imitator. Quite frankly, it was a joyless experience and painful to watch. It may appeal to children of a certain age and innocence – the under tens but I wouldn’t bank on it. Nor will it win any adult fans. There have been much better productions available from Pixar, but also from the Japanese; namely Academy Award winner Spirited Away and the critically acclaimed The Wind Rises. ??The plot sounds simple: Siblings Gerda and Kai along with Orm the troll aim to defeat the wicked Snow Queen who has turned the world into ice and snow. It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular aspect that makes The Snow Queen bad, because everything, in one way or another, contributes to the film being sub-standard. The characters are one-dimensional, instantly forgettable and crudely animated.
The plot that seems simple is terribly muddled and sloppy and may even be awkward for a child to follow. The English and American voices have been dubbed, awfully I add, and even the editing is poor, skipping from one scene to another (sometimes mid-scene) with no purpose or direction.
Despite all this: the shoddy editing, cheap, ugly animation, muddled narrative and characters you couldn’t care less about, the worst thing about The Snow Queen is that a sequel is due for release this December.