Would you like to know the only thing that I thoroughly adored about the most loved and hated movie of 2014, “Frozen?” It is Hans’ betrayal of Anna in the scene by the castle’s fireplace.
It is expertly executed by completely defying expectations, in addition to nearly giving the best ending a movie could possibly give: loss.
Most of us guys had nearly given up on the movie, thinking, “Oh yay, the prince charming sweeps a princess off of her feet again, and within two days they are ready to be married. Because obviously things happen that way in real life.” And then: surprise! Mr. Potentially Right is not the cliché that many of us expected per Disney movie.
To be clear, I am not at odds with romance or Disney movies; it is instead the complete lack of actual and impactful sacrifice with a serving of educational morality that the audience can nearly touch because of its presence in many movies. Believe me, I even have Disney movie marathons (and most of the movies have a romantic plot line, by the way) with friends.
What it seems that most movies excel at showing is the things the hero or heroine are willing to sacrifice (friends, family, material possessions, sweethearts or themselves) for a greater cause; but then never forcing them to make the real decision.
For example, take the scene from “Antman,” when the Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) acts to save his daughter by hitting a button that turns him into a forever shrinking protagonist – quite literally. But suddenly he has this great idea to use a different device to turn him back. And in an effort equivalent to placing one AA battery into a laptop battery bar and expecting it to fit, Lang is suddenly transformed back into his exact original form.
I almost roared in the movie theater, “No! Make him choose. Create the interesting ending.” But alas, it was not to be.
Sure, Antman was a fun movie with amusing jokes and cool fights; it was just completely void of creating and maintaining the permanent heartbreaking, soul-wrenching reality of never seeing his daughter again.
So now that most of you have joined Truly, my dear sister, in thinking that I am a heartless automaton who wants death in all movies, allow me to explain.
It is not that movies have too much romance or one too many happy endings; it is instead that they do not have enough of the right type of romance or happy endings.
Do you want to see a 17-year-old boy have embarrassing fanboy moments? Start with this:
Make me feel the throbbing ache of the hero as he chooses to give the world a chance while sacrificing his girlfriend. Force me to experience the grim determination of the heroine as she dies while defeating the monster. Blow me away with the protagonist’s resolve to carry on while his world crumbles forever. Enrapture me with the realistic romance of two people in both everyday life and terrible situations. Perplex me with an excruciating, meaningful dilemma filled with good and bad consequences no matter the choice.
I crave more “emotional damage,” as my sister calls it, to teach me the importance of giving up pieces of myself so that others can live on.
It is commonly mistaken that I love Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” because of Heath Ledger’s (may he rest in peace) Joker. I instead relish the shining morality of Batman as he tries to be a decent man in indecent times.
Batman is compelled to make a hard choice: give the corrupt city of Gotham a chance by saving Gotham’s shining champion, Harvey Dent, or save his only love, Rachel. He saves Dent.
And to make it better, Dent goes insane from grief, lack of faith in morality, and lies from the Joker.
Not only that, but when Dent dies after committing numerous murders, Batman takes the blame for the murders; thus making Dent a sinless martyr so that the city will rouse itself in memory of him to fulfill his original cause of bettering the city and stopping crime. Amazing.
Does it have some plot holes? Maybe. But if you attend to it, you can find a life lesson.
And also notable are the great movies that show a gradual progression of romantic interest.
After all, would it not be facetious to fall in love with someone after two days of action-packed heroism and decide that this person is a lifelong partner? It surely would be awkward to discover that they are a lazy worker or irresponsible scoundrel when the world is not at stake.
What is my quest? I seek the Holy Grail of movie treasures. I explore in hopes of finding the film that reveals impactful illustrations of heroism, sacrifice, humbleness, consequences and morality.
So I urge you: join me in the hunt for movie treasures. Let us go questing for stories that act wholesomely upon the consequences of morality and immorality, the nobility of humble sacrifice for the greater good, and the romance of heroic adventure.
Hopefully moviemakers will accommodate our search for tales with meaning.