Monday, November 8, 2010

Movie Review: Frozen

Late last winter, something absolutely terrifying happened at a European ski resort.  A German tourist in the Austrian Alps was "forgotten" on a ski lift.  He went up for one last run before they were going to close down for the day...and before he got to the top of the hill, they actually did close for the day, leaving the man stranded.

The 22 year-old skier, who had left his cell phone behind, was stuck for nearly five hours in temperatures reaching 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  The young man was finally rescued when a snowcat driver caught sight of him burning money in order to keep warm.

This real-life event was fortuitous for the makers of last winter's chill-thrill film, Frozen.  The plot of the low-budget flick is almost exactly the same.  Three friends get stuck high on a ski lift on a Sunday night after a New England resort closes for the week.  Parker (Emma Bell), Joe (Shawn Ashmore) and Dan (Kevin Zegers) are left to try to find a way to get down or face the prospect that they will freeze to death.

This could have been a good movie.  It really could have been.

That is, if someone had spent any time outdoors at all.  That is, if someone had researched frostbite and cold weather injuries.  And that is, if they weren't trying to make a horror movie and instead were just trying to make a tight and engaging story.

The characters in this movie had a hard time thinking about how to stay warm.  Joe, the lone skier in the group, never puts up his hood, no matter how cold it gets.  Parker looses a glove early in the movie and then decides that it's a good idea to go to sleep on the ski lift with her hand wrapped tightly around the metal safety bar.

These are things that just wouldn't happen in real life.  It's really hard to suspend disbelief when it's clear that the actors aren't really cold and have never really been cold.  Nobody ever really shivers in the entire movie and the film-makers are far more interested in getting some gore out of the cold weather injuries than some reality.

The biggest problem of all with this film is that this is exactly the type of movie a low-budget production company could do very well.  It is a tight and simplistic storyline that, when character driven, could be a tremendously engaging story.  The problem here is that the characters are paper thin.  They have nice back-stories, but they are just such dumb people, it's hard to really be engaged by them instead of by their situation.  This is definitely one of those movies where you spend a lot of time yelling, "no! No! No! Don't do that!" And then you sigh and say, "that was a really stupid thing to do..."

All that said, this movie has one major thing working for it.  It's the same thing that works in movies like, Open Water where a pair of scuba divers are left at sea by their tour boat, or in The Blair Witch Project, where a group of documentary film-makers become lost in a haunted's the what-would-I-do-if-I-were-in-this-situation factor.  And Frozen is flush with what-would-I-do situations.  The likelihood -- if you read this blog regularly -- is that you probably wouldn't do the same things that these not-very-outdoor savvy individuals did.

I suspect that most of you would zip up your jacket and put up up your hood in the cold.  I suspect that most of you would not lose your gloves.  And if you did lose your gloves, I bet that you would keep your hands in your pockets.  Indeed, most of you would probably have cell phones and the problem would be solved without any real drama.

The characters in this movie are not bright and sometimes you do get angry at their choices.  But that element, combined with the what-would-I-do element, keeps Frozen from being all bad...and in fact even makes it mildly -- and I stress mildly -- entertaining.

--Jason D. Martin


Unknown said...

actually im seeing the movie right now, and i had to stop it because it was making me really nervous, i realized most of the points you've mentioned, like not putting the hood or sleeping with the hand outside the pockets,
mi opinion, if jumping is really high and there is no powder under me, the best solution is to climb through the cable with hands and legs, or take your clothes of and make some kind of rope that leads u down, after that u go down skying so cold wont be a life/death problem within a couple of minutes

chevythunder said...

the actors actually were cold in the movie that didnt shoot it in a studio they actually shot it in -4 temps didnt you watch the making of it obviuosly not might wanna do that before you write a review!

American Alpine Institute said...


Movies take a long time to produce. And perhaps they were cold every once in awhile, but they didn't respond like they were. After spending a significant portion of my life in the cold, I feel quite confident that even the dumbest person in the outdoors would zip up their coats when it's cold.

Additonally, I was reviewing the film and not the making of the film. There are a lot of bad movies out there with interesting backstories, but that doesn't make them well-researched or good drama.

I stand by the fact that the concept of Frozen is great. But the execution of the film was terrible.


Anonymous said...

I watched the film yesterday and could not believe they did not pull their woolly hats over their faces. I also could not believe they were sitting with their legs dangling down, instead of changing the position to retain heat. Not to mention, they had a lighter with them, which they lost ...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with everything Jason said.
They are in fact very dump persons.
When I go out somewhere I always make sure at least one person of my family or friends know where I am or going. Just like in that other movie 72u (?) about that guy getting stuck in the grand Canyons he too didn't say to anyone to where he was going.

But the worst part of this movie are the wolfs. I know a thing or two about wolfs and they usually just don't attack humans its extremely rare. First of all where all of those wolfs at the same time rabid? By there are almost no wolfs anymore in New England and if they where they would avoid humans.