REVIEW: Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2
There is this strange dichotomy within me. There is the me that shudders every time I hear the word "Frozen" because of over saturation. And there is the me that is a fan of both movies.
With that, I wondered how I would feel about watching Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2, the six-part docuseries now streaming on Disney+. Thankfully, I started watching as the former, but ended watching as the latter. I thought it was fantastic and really made me want to watch the two films again.
The series follows the making of Frozen 2 from practically the idea to becoming the most successful animated film of all time. But, the road to that success takes work.
There was a saying when I went to CalArts as a character animation major that you should not love your darlings. It's the thought that, as much as you love something that you draw or produce, it will inevitably be picked apart. So, don't love it too much that you cannot accept change.
Watching this docuseries reminded me so much of that saying. There is so much care put into these animated films we watch. There is a lot of review and focus grouping and reviewing again to make everything perfect.
There is one example of Malerie Walters, an animator on Elsa, who was animating the scene where Elsa runs up the ice hill at the end of "Into The Unknown." She worked with Elsa supervising animator Wayne Unten and they ultimately show directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck an initial pass through. But, they are unsatisfied with it and encouragingly tells her to go back and revisits. So, Walters goes back and has her husband film her running. That runs becomes what we see in the film.
Another example is how effects animator Dan Lund was working on Elsa's transformation during the "Show Yourself" number. At first, it started as an idea by production designer Mike Giamo and making the diamonds connect to the star. Then Lund took it to make the dress seem as if it organically rises from the star. Its a wonderful team effort.
I love watching how the Anderson-Lopezes worked with the crew on the film. Their stamp was very important to creating the story as composer Christophe Beck said, "The music has to be integrated." What was cool is that they just knew what the story needed and were able to take what direction Lee and Buck gave them.
Another thing that I found incredible is that Lee comes from a writing and story background while Buck comes from an animation background. When they first started writing the film, Lee would write a journal as if she were Elsa and Buck would take her journal and do drawings. What a great union of talent.
The series is full of these kind of anecdotes.
What I liked about this docuseries is that it is honest. It's different than Disney's other puff pieces that generally come with the video releases of their films. Here, things are not wrapped up in a bow. The road didn't come easy to making this production and you can see it here. And, I appreciated that.
I wish Disney did this with all of their films. I would love to see how they made Tangled or Beauty and the Beast or The Emperor's New Groove, all films that had troubled beginnings that ultimately changed dramatically in the end. Heck, I would even give my eye tooth for a docuseries on Chicken Little for that matter. The point is, Disney, please bring us more of this!