Snow Queen is an animated movie produced and first released in 2012. It has somehow made its way into our theaters, presumably due to the success of another movie loosely based on the Snow Queen story, Frozen. In fact, the posters advertising this film bear the tagline "still frozen." Clearly, someone wants people to make some kind of connection between the two films. But this movie, which actually predates the Disney film, has absolutely nothing to do with Elsa, Olaf, and Let It Go. It is just a subpar animated picture that isn't really worth anyone's time.
The titular Snow Queen has plunged the world into eternal winter. She has already defeated everyone who has stood in her way, but she is told that there are still people put there who might pose a threat to her reign. Enter Gerda, a humble peasant girl just trying to get by in a sweatshop. She suddenly learns that she still has living family, only to have that quickly fall apart when her newly discovered brother is abducted by the Snow Queen's minions. Gerda must travel across the winter wasteland with her pet ferret and an unlikely troll ally in order to rescue her brother and bring an end to the eternal winter.
This film is somewhat closer to the original story than Frozen is, though it's still quite a departure. It really is a difficult story to bring to screen, and a lot of simplification and reinterpretation has to be done to make the elements work. This film doesn't really succeed in doing that, however. Once it gets past the tedious setup, it basically sends Gerda into one weird situation after another. Very little holds these vignettes together, the characters not achieving much as they shuttle off between these modest moral challenges. It feels as though the movie is just stalling for time, providing unconnected diversions in lieu of a plot that actually coheres.
The movie is just very badly constructed. The main character just isn't very interesting. Gerda is as bland ad heroines get, the young girl not really doing much throughout the entire story. She doesn't need to grow or learn anything on this quest in order to defeat the Snow Queen. Her adventure does that lead to any real challenges to her abilities or her beliefs. She doesn't earn her inevitable victory. She just exists, a blank page upon which victory is written. It is the troll that learns the most in this story, but he is never given enough real focus to make his journey mean anything. In the end, it's about the girl who is never really forced to rise to a challenge.
The animation is not very good. It certainly doesn't match up with what we've come to expect from animated features nowadays. In 2012, this would have already looked pretty dated. Today, it just looks unacceptable. The backgrounds are noticeably static, and the characters move unnaturally. The designs of the characters are uniformly awful. And the direction just does the film no favors. Scenes that are presumably meant to be funny are obscured by the distance that the camera keeps from the joke. The movie as a whole doesn't have much of a sense for comedic timing. At its nadir, the movie just plays a couple of farts as its punchlines. It gets pretty sad.
Snow Queen was not very well received in 2012. It does not benefit from an added four years of distance. It certainly can't hold a candle to Frozen, the film that the local poster seems to want us to remember. It is a real wonder why anybody thought it was a good idea to release this movie now. It is puzzling why SM is allowing this film to take up space in their theaters. But this is a common theme in our release schedule. The reasoning behind the decisions about which films are worthy of being projected may forever be a mystery to the average moviegoer. It is beyond the realm of logic, and apparently not for us to know.
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