The Other Side of Animation: The Snow Queen (2012) Review

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When I started The Other Side of Animation, I was making sure I did more good than bad animated movies. I wanted this to be a positive experience. However, knowing how the internet and people apparently love articles and reviews ripping things to itsy bitsy pieces in a negative/logically hate-filled rage, I made it a rule that I would only review bad animated movies if I personally thought they were downright terrible, with very few if any thing redeemable about them. This is where Wizart Animation’s The Snow Queen fits that rule. Originally released in 2012 in Russia, and 2013 everywhere else, The Snow Queen is a Russian CGI animated film based off of the fairy tale of the same name. It was produced by Wizart Animation, a company located in Moscow. On release, of course, its home country loved it. However, the rest of the world did not. It obviously tried to cash in on the Frozen hype, due to the little blurb on the bottom of the U.S. cover art saying “A Magical Adventure in a Frozen Wonderland”, with a lot of emphasis put on word, Frozen. So, how bad is this movie? Well, I might have my issues with Frozen, but I enjoyed it 10 times more than I will ever enjoy The Snow Queen.

The story revolves around an evil snow queen, voiced by Cindy Robinson, who is freezing the landscape and killing any wizards who could potentially stop her. After killing one wizard, but failing to kill his daughter and son, the story then skips forward a couple of years to the daughter and her brother, who were apparently separated after the death of their parents. The young girl is named Gerda, voiced by Jessica Strauss, and lives in a sweatshop/orphanage. The brother, on the other hand, I guess does chores around the town and also lives at the orphanage. His name is Kai, and is voiced by Marianne Miller. After a troll named Orm, voiced by Doug Erholtz, who you might know better as Gin from the English dub of Bleach, captures Gerda and Kai with some kind of magic from the evil queen, the two children are separated once again. Kai ends up getting taken back to the evil queen’s lair, and Gerda is stuck with her pet ferret and Orm. It is up to Gerda to save her brother and stop the evil queen’s plans from ruling the world.

So, what is wrong with this movie? I mean, I could just leave it at “it’s really bad,” call it a day, give myself a high five, get a drink, and get on with my life. Sadly, I can’t do that. How about we start with the most glaring flaw of this film, the animation? While definitely better than something like Food Fight, the quality of animation is still subpar. The quality is more in line with something from the TV side of CG, like the Star Wars Rebels series, the Dreamworks animated series, or the straight-to-DVD quality films. This means that the film results in a lot of not very fluid movement from the characters. Gerda also has this bad habit of having a dead-eyed look on her face 90% of the time. I find it a tad jarring to see a majority of the older women in this film try to out-bust Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  While this film does take a lot from the original source material, it feels disjointed and road-tripish. For example, the main characters just encounter individual characters from the original story, leave, and don’t even mention them or reference them again in the movie. Did we see the grandmother and her eternal summer garden? Check! What about the bandits that are led by a young girl and her mom? Check! What about the princess that apparently has an insane father and brother? Double Check! Since it’s only 76 minutes long, it feels like they had no idea how to elongate the movie, and only cherry-picked the events in the film and stitched them together for the illusion of a flowing narrative.

What’s even worse is the titular character, the Snow Queen. She barely appears in the movie until the very end, and even then, she isn’t that compelling of a villain. They try to pull off a Paranorman-style twist with her, but since they don’t do anything like Paranorman,  like build up the mystery, reveal the history of the character, build up the atmosphere, and make them sympathetic in multiple ways, they instead give the viewer an exposition dump in the third act. Once again, combined with her boring personality, she comes off as just another evil female. It’s such a disappointment, since she sounds evil, but that’s just about it. Nothing really stands out from the main cast either. Gerda is a stereotypically strong female character that you saw Warner Brothers try to emulate from Disney, but here they give her no real personality outside of being tough and not wanting to give up. I know we all shout and beg for better female characters, but Gerda is not the correct way of doing this. The only one who actually gets any real sign of a story arc is Orm, the comedic troll. He has a backstory, some personality, and actual progression in terms of character development. None of Orm’s development is handled exceptionally well, since you can see it coming a mile away, but the very little effort there is seen is much more interesting than Gerda or her brother. The voicework is also painful to sit through with Gerda’s one tone, and Orm’s out-of-place accent. Orm sounds like he’s from Boston or New Jersey. The jokes are terrible in this film. None of them have made me intentionally laugh at them. A lot of the same jokes pop up, like the parody of the 300-style slow-motion, but it came off more annoying than funny.

So, yeah, it’s a very generic mediocre experience, but what’s good about the movie? Well, I give the studio credit for not having out-of-place musical numbers. I also think it was at least somewhat noteworthy that they tried to follow the original source material. None of this makes for a good film, but with how Disney always likes to pick apart the original source material for its films based on fairy tales, it’s nice to see more from the source material that you will never see in Frozen.

As if it’s not obvious, I really didn’t like this movie. I am also surprised that the original film is getting two sequels, since it wasn’t good in the first place! The animated film industry will always puzzle me when they think this was a good thing. Oh, and to the people saying this film is great because it has more from the original source material, well, it still doesn’t make the film good. Now then, while this might be the worst film I have reviewed up till now, wait until next week when we review one of the absolute worst animated films of all time. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Film Rating: Lackluster!

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