In the Shadow of Frozen

Moana – Why it never hit Frozen’s scale of hype, and why this is a good thing


Disney’s latest animated movie Moana hit cinemas in November last year, and has since dazzled critics and general viewers alike. The winning combination of loveable characters, well-rounded plot, and songs that are simultaneously catchy and goosebump-inducing has left audiences reaching for handkerchiefs and critics awarding the film 5-star ratings. So why did it never reach the hype of Disney’s Frozen?

We all remember that fateful December in 2013, when the beloved all-singing, all-heart-melting Frozen came to cinemas worldwide. With children and adults alike gushing about the songs, storyline, and characters, Frozen was an instant hit, becoming the ultimate feel-good film of the festive season. Nobody, however, could have anticipated what came next. In the months that followed, the hype only escalated. People opted for second and third cinema trips to see the film, merchandise was flying off the shelves, with hoards of young children begging for Elsa dresses and dolls for Christmas, and every parent was guilty of knowing Let It Go by heart.

In the short-term, the film was still beloved, and those who weren’t a fan merely waited for the excitement to die down. Alas, it was the hype that arguably killed Frozen for the majority, as the franchise refused to disappear. It did more than just cling on to the public’s consciousness: it was physically embedded in everyday life. It’s fair to say that many drew the line when the characters of Frozen found their way onto tins of Campbell’s soup and, disconcertingly, onto toilet seat covers.

Three years on, the Frozen fever still endures. But can we expect the same for Moana?

Moana tells the heart-warming story of a young girl, Moana, the daughter of the chief of the Polynesian tribe, and her physical and emotional journey of restoring the heart of her island and saving her people. The message of feminine independence is strong, with the lack of romantic interest and sheer determination of the protagonist being immensely refreshing, and providing an admirable role model for young children. Frozen is also a film that embodies this idea of independent females, with the message of sisterhood remaining a strong theme throughout, and ultimately being the key to victory. The soundtracks of both films are arguably both successful in their own rights: Frozen’s songs are uplifting and catchy, and the tunes in Moana incorporate the Polynesian culture to create truly exciting lyrics and instrumentals.

Both films certainly have their merits. Critically, Moana has done better, scoring a staggering 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Frozen sits at a still impressive 89%. Many critics, however, have commented on Frozen’s shaky plot, and the general consensus towards Frozen nowadays is that it was severely overrated. Moana on the other hand has been met with practically nothing but high praise. In this context, it seems unusual that Moana has not reached the same level of hype, having almost reached the end of its time in cinemas. Although in some respects, this could be the best thing for the film.

There is, naturally, plenty of merchandise available for Moana, and the soundtrack flew into the top 10 in the weeks after the film’s release. But it is undeniable that a Frozen-esque hype is not in the film’s foreseeable future. Some may believe that the film deserves more credit and recognition for its originality, appreciation of culture, and admirable female protagonist. It is fair, however, to stand by the fact that the scale of hype received by Frozen would impact negatively upon the film. Any initial appreciation for originality, etc. in Frozen was soon overshadowed by its hype. After Frozen, any and all Disney films could be expected to be at risk of becoming overrated and less loved by the public; but since Moana, it is safe to say that the Frozen phenomenon may not be repeated for some time.

Moana certainly deserves to be as beloved as its predecessor, but for the time being it is better for everyone if it is appreciated on a less extreme scale. Not that we would complain if we could buy Moana-themed soup.

Moana is set for DVD and Blu-ray release on March 7th 2017.

 

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