Here's my full review for the movie, as promised. Overall I liked it, but admit that it was pretty underwhelming and disappointing. I don't think watching the movie is a complete waste of time, since there were some parts I enjoyed quite a bit, and I guess it also helps that I'm usually a fan of Christmas specials. It's nice Marvel tried doing something like this, and as a feature-length movie as opposed to just an episode of one of their animated shows.Frost Fight isn't anything special but it's still a pretty decent and harmless enough adventure. And keeping in line with the holiday spirit, I tried to focus more on the good aspects of the movie in my review, and luckily there was a pretty decent amount of stuff I liked.
As far as the story goes, it's kind of childish and pretty much straight-forward, with no real twists and turns (other than maybe Santa Claus' background - more on that later), and the ones that do make their way into the movie are predictable enough. But, I think it works for the most part. There are a few occasions where the movie feels like it drags on for too long, and it does get tedious. I think a somewhat shorter running time would have helped here, as some of the scenes feel more like filler or padding for this to reach the 73 minutes mark. The writing isn't terrible, but some of the lines the characters have as the story progresses are kind of lame. I admit the basic plot of the movie - Loki tries to kidnap Santa! - sounds pretty dumb, but I think at the same time it's bizarre enough to make people at least curious about how the story will unfold. The crew behind this special probably did the best they could with this and there are times when you can tell they all had fun working on it. There's a bunch of good moments which I liked more than I expected.
Probably the thing I liked the most about this movie was the Avengers' team roster. Not all the heroes seen on Avengers Assemble were present, but I didn't really mind the absence of some of the Avengers in this movie, and I also doubt adding the characters of Ant-Man, Black Widow, Falcon or Hawkeye, complete with their limited characterizations would have really helped the movie and made it any better. The one character who might have made the movie better would probably be Spider-Man. This seemed like the bizarre type of mission Spidey would have enjoyed. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, basically making her debut in this new Marvel Animated Universe. I liked her character and I was glad to see she had a decent amount of screen-time, as well as a pretty good characterization. Her lines were decent, nothing really stood out but at the same time I didn't find any of them too silly or anything either. I liked how she was portrayed - as both a fighter (plenty of fight scenes where she shows off her skills and powers), and as a more compassionate hero (mostly in relation to Reptil). Her sense of humor worked and I think she was the most entertaining character in the movie. Her voice actress (Grey DeLisle/Griffin) is usually great in pretty much each of her roles and this was no exception. I'm hoping she'll continue to be this entertaining, and maybe even develop some more, in the next season of Avengers Assemble.
Plus, it was nice seeing Reptil animated again, with Anthony Del Rio reprising his role from the Super Hero Squad Show. I liked his more realistic design and he used his powers in some pretty creative ways throughout the movie. Some of his lines were a little too silly (kind of seemed like something out of Ultimate Spider-Man to me) and his story-arc about believing in Santa Claus was kind of forced but it was harmless enough and did make this whole thing seem even more like a Christmas movie. It's a cliche, but I thought it worked. The one thing that kind of got annoying about him was that he's still a rookie on the team and how the others treated him as such, pretty much every chance they had. But, I guess the other Avengers' characterizations were pretty much consistent with how they have been portrayed on Avengers Assemble.
You can't really have a Christmas special without an appearance from Santa Claus and Frost Fight is no exception. I thought the twist about Santa's background was pretty interesting - not a whole lot about it made sense but it was a welcome surprise tying him into Norse mythology (and by extension to Thor and Loki's lore). This also allowed for an accurate comic book scientific explanation as to how Santa is able to do some of the things he does once a year. The scenes where we see Loki stealing and abusing Santa's magical powers should prove just how powerful the latter truly is, and how he uses these powers for the good of all. Santa's design looked pretty great - a nice mix of Asgardian aesthetics and traditional depictions of Santa. I thought Steve Blum was a good choice to play him in this special.
However, Mrs. Claus felt a little flat. I liked her voice actress (Jane Singer) but other than that pretty much everything she did in the movie didn't amount to much, mostly attempts at some more humor and to prove the fact that her husband isn't a bad guy. It felt a little forced, but it was harmless enough and it was needed to explain this stuff to new-comers Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The latter two characters also felt a little shoehorned into the story as far as I'm concerned. I don't think they added that much to the story. I guess their inclusion would have made more sense if this movie was released two or so Christmases earlier, just to hype up the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy live-action movie, just like they made different tie-ins with these characters on the Marvel animated shows. The side-plot about Loki putting a bounty on Santa's head was pretty much forgotten about as soon as it came into play. But, I admit I got a chuckle out of the details on Santa's wanted poster.
On the villains' side of things, Loki was handled pretty well though he has definitely seen better days in animation before. And I don't even mean days when he actually came out victorious. I mean days where his plots and schemes made more sense. I thought his portrayal on Avengers Assemble was pretty great, but his idea here to steal Santa's powers seemed so surreal, similar to his more bizarre appearances on Ultimate Spider-Man (remember when he turned Thor into a frog, Spidey into a pig, or a bunch of heroes into chibis?). I think this could have fit in well in line with those other episodes, which only made Spidey's absence here all the more noticeable. Ymir, on the other hand, felt a little too bland and didn't really leave an impression on me. To be fair, there's really not much you can do with the character. I think the movie could have benefited from some better written villains but what can you do. Loki did make sense because of the revelation about Santa's background.
Let's not forget the minor/additional characters, like Santa's Elves (the Emerald Guard) or Nick, the jolly Santa-lookalike. This latter character didn't really impress me that much but he was a necessary addition to the story I guess. The Elves on the other hand had some pretty good designs and did help move along the story at a somewhat decent pace. As well as lead to some good action scenes, which were entertaining enough for me but I have to admit they kind of dragged on at the same time. I missed its name, but I thought the elves' creature that guarded the Casket of Powers had a cool design.
I also liked how the story balanced the action with some more comedic, and even emotional moments. The banter between the team members was decent for the most part. I could have done without some bits which were kind of forced but the overall effect was pretty good. The comedy team-up between Hulk and Thor was pretty disappointing but I guess it was harmless enough. Hulk again acting more child-like just because of Christmas was a little too silly. His character has been the most inconsistently written on Avengers Assemble as far as I'm concerned and seeing him acting goofy again here didn't really help things either. it was mostly played for laughs (or at least I think that was the attempt). I found his explanation about what Christmas is and why he loves it so much to be pretty forced and not all that funny. Probably the weakest point of this movie, at least as far as I'm concerned.
Dramatic moments were added along the way, and I liked how most of the heroes had some flashbacks to their childhoods reminiscing about Christmases past. That was a nice touch. Iron Man's side-story about not believing in Santa was handled pretty well - it could have easily turned into something lame but I think what we got was pretty good. There may have been some more attempts at emotional scenes I'm probably forgetting right now, or just didn't impress me enough to remember in the first place. But, showing the flashbacks and explaining what Christmas means to the heroes was good enough.
Animation-wise, the movie looks pretty good. There are some portions where the animation looks a little stiff but it's not that bad. For the most part I actually thought this was on par with the usual animation output seen on Avengers Assemble, which isn't that bad. The character designs looked a little better than in the current animated shows, or at least I thought so, which was a pretty nice surprise. Captain Marvel and Reptil fit in along with the others well enough and were animated nicely. Like I mentioned before, I'm looking forward to seeing more from Captain Marvel in the next season of Avengers Assemble. Hopefully they will continue to develop her some more. She at least had a better introduction than most of the other female characters in Marvel's most recent animated series.
Younger kids will probably love this movie - it's bright, colorful, features fan-favorite characters from Marvel Comics, and Santa Claus too! What's not to love? The story is decent too and does have some amusing and heart-felt stuff added in for good measure. I probably would have loved it too, if I was a few years younger. But as it is, it's still a pretty enjoyable movie for older people as well, and I think families could enjoy watching it together during the winter holidays. I usually consider animation in general should be for all age groups, and while I would have loved something a little more clever this movie was pretty good and I wouldn't mind seeing this Marvel Super Hero Adventures title develop into an entire line of specials, not necessarily Christmas-themed movies, as time goes by. But if it does happen, I would love if they don't keep the same team roster for every special, mix things up a little, just like this one movie featured a slightly different cast than Avengers Assemble. I think that could be fun.
So in closing, I think the movie is worth checking out. It's not a masterpiece or anything but is a pretty fun Christmas special and a neat little adventure. The running time is a little too long, and there are some portions of the movie where it feels like it drags too much, but other than that I don't really have any complaints. The dialogue is a little too childish occasionally but it honestly doesn't feel that different from how most episodes of Marvel's current animated shows play out. Overall, I liked Frost Fight but at the same time I don't see myself adding this to my ever-growing list of movies I try to watch every year around Christmas time. There's nothing really wrong with it, but it does feel kind of disappointing in the end.
Just watched it. It was okay. Once again it feels like Marvel animation has turned out a product that probably would have been more at home in the 1980s than today despite not having any cool intro music. Still, I can't deny that some pats made me laugh, such as Rocket and Groot's interactions with Mrs. Claus, and the characters reminiscing about past Christmas's by the fire was surprisingly heartfelt.
Grey DeLisle-Griffin rocked it returning as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, making Carol tough but also funny and personable as others have already observed, making her the real star of the feature. The other actors do well enough, especially Steve Blum as Santa/Nick.
So that was a thing that existed. Or more accurately, existed for years and this is the first time I've gotten around to it. What did I think?
I thought it had some charms to start off with, but I progressively disliked it more and more as it went on. Groot as the Christmas Tree at the end was a nice touch, but generally speaking the more the movie got into the Christmas stuff, the lamer it got.
I'm not going to spend pages on this review because that would be silly. I'll briefly talk about what stuck out at me.
This is the first time I've ever seen Reptil in anything besides The Super Hero Squad Show. Another thing that I forgot existed.
I love that Hulk loves Christmas but being Hulk can't verbalize it well. I like that.
My problem starts with Santa existing in one of the Multiverse Levels of the Marvel Universe. It could have been handled worse in truth, but all it does is break whatever reality and credibility the rest of the stuff is trying to get across.
My problem with Santa is that the movie operates under the assumption that belief is good enough and all that matters. That is the biggest crock of horsepoo I have seen a modern kids project shovel out recently, and you gotta keep in mind I watch a TON of crap, so me saying that means something. Forget the political implications for a minute. Tony Stark using math to prove Santa was a fraud was the best scene in the movie, and it could have existed with the reality of Santa in that Universe, but the movie has to say that believing irrational things is the right answer and that the head-strong, clever, and independent kid Tony Stark was was completely wrong. It's The Complainer Is Always Wrong (see Brainy Smurf) about a scenario in which in Our Universe, he's actually right.
I loved him disproving Santa with math, and I hope perhaps some rationally thinking kids will see that although a magical, time-stopping version of Santa is plausible in a Universe where superheroes and magic powers exist, maybe the math itself can tell them something about Santa for a Universe devoid of them. It's why I can't entirely crap on the movie. It teaches kids the wrong lessons and morals, but the smart ones will get it on their own, despite the movie's best efforts.
I guess I could do a rundown of jokes and scenes I liked but that would take about ten minutes to put down and I'm suddenly stricken with a crippling and overwhelming sense of not caring very much. Rule of thumb: If Hulk said it, it was funny. If Tony said it, it wasn't.
So, yeah. This wasn't great. It could have been worse. But it teaches kids all the wrong things. **1/2.