EDIT: After speaking to my Publisher at Paper Crane Books, she made a list of certain points I missed or was not aware about. I have added them into the blog for the sake of completion.
So... this came around a lot later than I planned, but today we present the second...
PANDRAGONDAN’S DISNEY DEATHMATCH!!!
Those who read my Tangled Versus Hunchback of Notre Dame post will know what it’s all about. But for those who haven’t read it, check out the link HERE:
In 1994, The Lion King hit the cinemas across the world – and instantly garnered critical acclaim. Spawning several movies, a couple of spin offs and even a bestselling musical, The Lion King broke several box office records and won numerous awards – especially for its music. For the longest time, it was considered by many to be the greatest Disney film of all time (possibly even the greatest animated film) and remained unchallenged for many years.
That was until 2013 when Frozen arrived at the box office. This film not only matched The Lion King but surpassed its’ fame and accomplishment in just a short period of time. Considered by many to be the greatest Disney film of all time, Frozen remains firmly in the hearts of all fans of Disney and non-Disney alike. I could go on to describe the accolades and achievements this film has got, but you only need to do a google search to see how much people love this film.
But... just because Frozen may have succeeded The Lion King in every aspect – does that make it a better film than The Lion King? This is what I’m here to find out! We’re going to find out once and for all whether Frozen is superior to The Lion King as a film – at least in my opinion. So get ready for - The Lion King Versus Frozen!
In this blog there will be five “rounds”, of which I will give a description of which elements work or don’t work, then award a point accordingly. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. Simple as that! And I’m keeping it to five so that there is no chance of a tie happening.
Now, before we start, here are a few things you need to bear in mind.
- Things such as awards/box office records will NOT be counted in this blog. I’m basing this purely on stuff within the film itself. That’s not to say I’m ignoring or discounting them, they just don’t have any power in this Deathmatch.
- If you haven’t either film, be aware that spoilers are included in this blog.
- And finally – this is the most important thing to remember – this is JUST MY OPINION! I say this because I wound up a few people on Facebook with the result of my last Disney Deathmatch (many said Tangled should have won over Hunchback of Notre Dame), so I want to make this clear. I do not claim to be a film expert or a critic. What I am is just a guy with an opinion and that is all that this blog will be.
Ok enough talk. Be Prepared – we’re about to Let It Go!!!
ROUND 1 – Protagonists
In this round, I’ll be analysing the protagonists of each film. This first round will be a “tag team” round as I will be looking at Child Simba and Adult Simba and Anna and Elsa.
Now the plot of The Lion King follows Simba from childhood to adulthood. Next in line to the throne, Simba is forced to run away away when his uncle Scar arranges for Mufasa (Simba’s dad) to be killed and make it look like it was Simba’s fault. Simba escapes from the hyenas (who are working for Scar) and then goes into hiding, becoming friends with Meerkat and Warthog Timon and Pumbaa – until a chance meeting with his old friend Nala means that Simba has to return and face his destiny, and his uncle.
Now, the problem with child characters is that if they are done wrong, they can come across as annoying. Not in the case of Child Simba – he is just adorable! Yes he does do some very stupid things – but let’s not forget that he is just a child and not fully aware of the dangers of the world yet. As such it means that he is easily manipulated by his uncle so that he can deliberately be put in danger. But the scenes of Simba and his dad together – whether it’s Mufasa giving fatherly advice or them just playing together – are just heartwarming. You really feel the bond between the two. Then, when Mufasa dies (in what is arguably the most traumatising moment in Disney history next to Bambi’s mother being shot) and Simba is trying to get his father to wake up and crying, we really feel Simba’s pain and cry with him.
Adult Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick, who is one of my LEAST favourite actors if I’m being honest, but he does well in this film) is a little bit more morose and understandably so. Though he has a fun loving attitude to life, having hung around with Timon and Pumbaa – but at the same time, he is really running away from his past, having been forced to believe he is responsible for his father’s death. Then, when the chance comes for him to fulfil his destiny, he is torn between facing his past or running away. He has a lot of conflict in his character and this helps him grow into the hero he should be. His internal suffering holds him back, but he does thankfully grow into the King that he was meant to be. Overall, I think Simba is a really well developed character and I love seeing him grow from a young, naive child, to a powerful lion that ends up being every bit as wise and respected as his father.
Onto Frozen and the heroines Anna and Elsa. Elsa is a woman born with ice powers, but when she accidentally hurts Anna, her parents take her to see the magical trolls – who warn Elsa that her fear could result in her magic raging out of control and have disastrous consequences. On hearing this, her parents – being the kind, compassionate mother and father that they are – decide to lock her away and keep her away from the outside world. And then they die at sea. Mmmmm, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the trolls say that FEAR could cause her powers to spiral out of control? Surely doing this would make Elsa more afraid? Oh well, I’m sure they know what they are doing and I’m positive this won’t in ANY way go tits up. Spoiler alert: It does!
Anyway, years later, Elsa is now about to be crowned Queen, but her powers start to crap out and the whole country is covered in snow. Elsa, deciding not to hold back anymore, unleashes her full power and goes into hiding. It’s now up to Anna to bring her sister back and save her through the only way she knows how. Love.
Let me just say this about these characters. I LOVE Elsa! I would actually go so far to say that she is one of the beautifully crafted characters in Disney history. Not only does she have the most kick ass powers ever, but she has a really deep emotional side. She’s pretty much spent most of her life alone and never really known true love. She has a lot of sadness in her, despite her power – much like a superhero. We can turn an old phrase here “with great power comes great responsibility” and in Elsa’s case, it results in all of Arendale being frozen over. But we can understand Elsa, she’s been held back all her life because her parents were scared of what she might become. Why shouldn’t she test to see what she can do? She’s not gonna be held back anymore and just gonna go for it. But at the same time, she just wants to be loved for who she is. She’s pretty much a perfect character – she has a lot of personal issues, but she can also kick ass!
As for Anna... erm... I like her... but I gotta be honest, she does annoy me sometimes. I dunno, she just seems too overly optimistic all the time – and don’t get me wrong, that’s not a problem. I totally respect her courage and like the idea that she isn’t wholly dependent on a man to look after her – but most of the time I just felt like her optimism was kinda rammed down the audiences throat. She’s not a bad character at all, I just felt she could have been toned down a little. And... I did feel she was dangerously close to being a Mary-Sue in places. Even though she asked Kristoff to take her through the mountains, she didn’t really NEED him! She was more than capable of looking after herself. Between you and me, if I had to pick between the two sisters, I would say that Elsa was the more developed character – no not in that way! XD
EDIT: My Publisher pointed out that it's actually Anna that is the protagonist and Elsa is the antagonist - as the story is supposed to be about Anna's journey of love and acceptance. This is kinda disagree on as I don't see Elsa in any antagonistic light - she's more a deuteragonist if anything. Also, the reason I see Elsa more as a protagonist is because I didn't really connect to Anna in anyway - hence why Elsa was included as a protagonist.
It’s a tough choice really – because I know whichever one I pick I’ll upset fans of the other. But I do have to pick a winner for this and, what it really boils down to who I felt attached to the most emotionally. Anna I can take or leave, Elsa I genuinely love – but at the end of the day, Simba will always have my sympathy because of the heartbreaking scene with Mufasa dying. So with that all being said, sorry, Elsa. I love ya, but I have to go with Simba. Point goes to The Lion King.
ROUND 2 – Antagonists
Here we look at the villains in each film. Scar for The Lion King, Hans for Frozen.
I’ve said this time and time again – Scar is without a doubt the most despicable of all Disney villains in my opinion – possibly of all time. He is a slimy, manipulative lion (voiced brilliantly by Jeremy Irons – with vocals by Jim Cummings) that seeks power for himself and will crush anyone to get it – including his own family. To this end, he joins forces with the hyenas and plans a terrible scheme whereby he will kill Simba and Mufasa and become king himself. The scary thing is he actually SUCCEEDS in his plan, making him one of the few Disney villains to do so – at least to a point. He does kill Mufasa, but Simba runs away. Nevertheless, Scar does become the leader of Pride Rock and creates a new totalitarian society whereby hyenas rule as his army.
The above alone makes Scar one of my most hated villains. He is sly, arrogant, slimy, a little whinny and mostly cowardly when faced with direct confrontation, what makes him that little bit more evil is the fact that he is willing to murder his own brother and nephew (who, remember, is only a child at this point) to gain his goals. The scene where he stabs his brother through the paws and whispers “long live the king” is still one of the most chilling moments in film history. And then when he goes up to Simba afterwards and tells him that he is responsible for his Mufasa’s death – well, that just shows what an evil f***er he is! He has little to no redeeming features at all. But you know what, if he can inspire that much hate from the watchers then it shows he’s doing his job properly as a villain. And his death at the end is one of the most satisfying villain punishments ever!
For Hans, you actually don’t know he’s the villain until later on. When he first appears, he seems like a typical handsome hero that Anna falls completely head over heels in love with. Until later on it’s discovered that it was all a ploy and that his plan was to kill Elsa and take her throne in an effort to prove himself to his brothers. Now I did originally say this was a good twist in my original review of Frozen – but now I’m gonna take that back. Because, after much consideration, I don’t think this twist works.
Those who read my Top Five Lame Plot Twist blog will probably already know my feelings, but I’ll sum up here. The reason I don’t think this twist works as well is that at NO point during the film does Hans show any villainous tendencies. In fact, he even SAVES Elsa from being killed at one point – and if he wanted her dead there was no reason to do that. Even when he’s alone with her, he acts kindly to her. They build up Hans to be a hero so much that, when the twist comes, it feels more like an asspull than a shock. This twist would have worked a lot better if they had foreshadowed Hans being a villain in some way – like making him a little cocky, possessive of Anna, maybe a nasty look when he looks at Elsa, etc. There ARE ways you can foreshadow a twist without giving too much away.
EDIT: In actual fact, I've been informed that his villain turn IS actually foreshadowed in the song Love Is An Open Door - which is something I miss, though in fairness it is fairly subtle. In this respect I will put my hands up about this - but all other points about Hans still stand.
I understand why Disney did this, they wanted to move away from the Handsome Hero they normally have in their films – but this twist doesn’t work in my eyes. They should have kept the Earl of Weasleton as the main villain as he had so much potential to be the bad guy.
Even though I HATE the idea of giving the point to Scar, he’s just more clearly defined as a villain and has a clear motivation. Hans just feels thrown in as a villain in the last minute and the twist opens up a big plot hole for me. So another point to The Lion King.
ROUND 3 – Supporting Characters
Here I’ll be looking at Nala, Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa and Rafiki for The Lion King and Kristoff, Olaf, Sven and The Earl of Weaselton for Frozen.
The Lion King is full of great supporting characters. Timon and Pumbaa are hilarious to watch and I love the “adult” humour that they manage to sneak in. They help counter balance the really dark moments of The Lion King and add a much welcome relief after the shock of Mufasa’s death. I could watch these guys for hours and still laugh my ass off – it’s no wonder they got their own spin off show. Zazu (voiced by Rowan Atkinson) is also a great source of humour as the majordomo of King Mufasa. Strange as it may seem, I love the “prim and proper” English type voice, it’s really funny if done properly. Zazu unfortunately spends most of the second half of the film as a prisoner, so he does kinda disappear from the film after that until the end.
Nala is pretty cool and I like the idea that she’s not a “damsel in distress” character that you normally get in Disney films – in fact, she pretty much can look after herself. And I love female characters that can kick ass! She’s both Simba’s best friend and love interest, but also his conscience in a way – she’s the first lynchpin in helping Simba realise his destiny. Rafiki, the bat-crap crazy monkey shaman is also fun to watch. I just wish he could have appeared more, but he was there for the important parts. On the whole, I love all the characters in The Lion King. Even the main three hyenas are entertaining.
As for the supporting characters in Frozen... where do I begin? Firstly, and I will always stand by this comment – Kristoff is a pointless character. What does he actually do in the film except provide a taxi service for Anna – who, I already mentioned, doesn’t need him at all. Yes, I am fully aware that he takes Anna to the trolls when her heart is frozen, but honestly, if Kristoff wasn’t in the movie, Anna could have done the whole “wander around and stumble across the trolls by accident bit”. And even when Kristoff is told how to cure Anna from her frozen heart, he doesn’t take a chance to try it. You could argue that he knew she loved Hans and he was too much of a nice guy to “cock block” Hans... but my argument is that to get Anna back to Hans, he has to travel from one end to the other of the country to the other to get her back. How did he know he would survive the journey? He could have at least TRIED to break the curse and then, if that failed, taken her back to Hans. I dunno, I just felt that Kristoff needed to man up a lot more. Hell, even Olaf tried to help Anna more than he did.
And speaking of which, I’m just gonna say this. I. HATE. OLAF. He is without a doubt the most annoying, obnoxious little **** in the whole film. I’m probably one of the few people that WANTED him to melt at the end and was really pissed off when Elsa saved him. Maybe it was his voice, his stupid comments or the fact that he can’t sing but... I just don’t like him. Sven was ok I guess, I don’t really have a problem with him. But I’ll say it again, the Earl of Weaselton SHOULD have been the villain of the story – he was a far more sinister character than Hans was by far!
In short, I don’t like the supporting characters in Frozen at all. They are either pointless, annoying or a wasted opportunity. So this isn’t going to be at all surprising for you to know that I am giving ANOTHER point to The Lion King as the characters were much more likeable and had more personality.
ROUND 4 – Music
Here we look at the music in each film.
From the opening track The Circle of Life, the music in The Lion King takes you on an epic journey, with tribal chants, soothing harmonies and powerful chords that just sweep you off your feet, provided by musical virtuoso Hans Zimmer. Even just focusing on the music alone, there are very few scores in films that get my adrenaline pumping or make the hairs stand on the back of my neck that the music in this film.
The Lion King may not have many songs compared to other Disney films – but what they do have are just incredible. There isn’t a single “bad” tune out of any of them, which works in its favour. I’m not usually a fan of Elton John or Tim Rice, but the songs in here are some of my favourite songs in Disney. There’s the bouncy, optimistic I Just Can’t Wait To Be King (with lots of colourful imagery), the singalong tune that is Hakuna Matata – which is always a joy to listen to, and one that I like to hear when I’m feeling down – or even the beautiful Can You Feel The Love Tonight. The music in The Lion King takes you on a sweeping journey of emotions and draws you into the world and the magic around it.
Oh, and let’s not forget the awesome Be Prepared! Next to Hellfire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this is one of the best villain songs ever. It’s dark, has a real sense of threat and – are those hyena’s marching like Nazi’s? Yikes! The music builds up in intensity and danger and you suddenly start to fear for Simba’s safety as Scar lays out his plans. Now THIS is what a villain song should sound like! What’s also interesting is that it’s both Jeremy Irons AND Jim Cummings that sings this song – but the transition from one to the next is so seamless that you wouldn’t notice it unless you listened carefully.
The music in Frozen may have wowed a lot of audiences – but I’m gonna be honest, I thought the music was just ok. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but I don’t feel like there are many memorable songs for me. And, maybe it’s just me, but I think the opening song over the titles is completely inappropriate for where it’s set. It just sounds too much like it’s trying to be like The Lion King.
EDIT: In respect of this, someone has pointed out that the chanting is actually based on a Norwegian chant, which Frozen is based around. Whilst this means the opening theme isn't wholly inappropriate, it still seems wrong to me and out of place with the rest of the tone of the film.
However, the two songs in the film that do stand out for me are Do You Wanna Build A Snowman and Fixer Upper. The first one is a lovely tune that quickly degenerates into sadness as both sisters are torn apart from each other – and the singing voice of Anna really has a lot of emotion. I will say this is the most beautiful of all the songs. Fixer Upper is a big show tune and has a lot of energy to it, and I love those songs. But I’ll just say this – The Summer Song is DREADFUL!!! No disrespect to Josh Gad, but Olaf’s vocals in this song are just terrible to listen to. Maybe that’s the idea, but I can’t stand this song.
You may have noticed I’m not talking about Let It Go... well anyone that’s read my blog will know what my opinion is about that song. Just in case you’re new to my blog, let me sum it up – it’s a good song, but I don’t rate Idina Menzel as a singer. Yes, I know she won an Oscar, but I just don’t like her voice. I have NOTHING against her as a person and I’m sure she’s a wonderful person in real life – but she’s a shouter, not a singer (just my opinion). In fact, whilst I’m on that subject, when I did my last Totalitarian Warlords and Termination Squadron video, I had author Morgan Staughan Comnick do the voice of Elsa, and she did her own rendition of Let It Go with the recordings. I never ended up using it, but I will say this - I think, in my opinion, that she sings it BETTER than Idina Menzel. Yup, I’m gonna go on record and say that Morgan is a better singer than Menzel – and yes, you can quote me on that. Again, Idina - nothing personal.
EDIT: I will be releasing a video showing Morgan singing Let It Go, so those of you who may be thinking of calling my bluff, watch this space! :)
Yeah, I know people love the Frozen soundtrack – but for me, it leaves me a little cold (if you pardon the pun). The Lion King has much more energy and emotion to it for me. So it gets the point.
ROUND 5 – Story and overall theme
Here I’ll look at the plot of both films and see what I think has the better story and moral.
The Lion King hasbeen quoted as the Disney version of Hamlet – and indeed it has a lot of parallels with that play. The Prince whose uncle murders his father and he has to avenge him – but is being held back by his own self doubt and desire to escape his fate. But for me, there is so much more to that. It’s a coming of age tale about facing your fears head on and aspiring to be what you were born to be. I also like to think of it as a really good tale of how important great parenting can be. Mufasa is a wonderful father, strict in his own way, but loving and caring of his son Simba. The lessons that Simba learns from him stay with him till adulthood, even if he doesn’t realise it. And in the end he becomes a better person than his uncle – who is essentially a monster. The Lion King, for me, is a tale about growing up, but also learning from your mistakes and respecting your family. Oh, and also lions are cool!
Now you may think I’ve been harsh with Frozen so far – but before you think I’m hating on it for no reason, just read this section. Yes, I have issues with this film – but there is also a lot of good in it as well. For one, the story. Frozen is a really heartfelt tale about how loneliness can kill a person inside and love sets you free. However, unlike other Disney films in this case it’s family love that saves the day. This I think is a really good twist to the story and it’s one of the few Disney films that adds a feminist message to it. People are saying that this is the first Disney film that shows you don’t need a man to save you – although I say that Brave is more worthy of that title. (Yes I know it’s Pixar, but to me, Disney and Pixar are one and the same). My only problem with this is that the feminist message is somewhat diluted by the fact that all the male characters are either useless or just utterly crappy. My belief is that if you have to make one gender weaker to get the point across then it weakens the message somewhat. Equality works both ways guys!
EDIT: In actual fact there are SEVERAL Disney films that go against this convention by having the female save the day. I mention Brave, but my friend was quick to mention Beauty and the Beast, Mulan and Pocahontas as examples of females saving the day. This is something that I should have put into the blog - so thanks to my Publisher for pointing that out.
But on the whole, despite the few plot holes (which I’ve talked about in previous blogs), I DO think that Frozen has a much stronger message at heart and I love the idea of it going against the usual conventions of a man saving the day. So even though I think The Lion King is a better film, I AM going to give Frozen the benefit of the doubt here. So Frozen fans rejoice as I give this point to it. See? I do give credit where credit is due!
But unfortunately it comes too little too late as, with 4-1, The Lion King emerges triumphant.
And so, Frozen may have outshone all competition at the box office, but I personally feel The Lion King is more entertaining and has more energy and emotion in the songs. Frozen has a far better moral, but it’s weak supporting characters and a couple of plot holes just ruin it for me.
Does this take away from the achievements that Frozen has? Not at all! I have full respect for what this movie has achieved – but at the same time, I have an opinion like anyone else. And personally, I prefer The Lion King. Nothing personal guys.
Do you agree? Disagree? Do you hate my guts? Is there a flaw in my argument that you want to point out? Did I miss something? Whatever you guys feel, I love reading your comments guys, whether on my blog, my Facebook or Twitter. So please let me know what you thought of this and whether you’d like to see another one. And if you wanna take me to the cleaners – go for it!
Thanks for reading guys. Speak soon!