Frozen II is once again directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck and is the sequel to the phenomenon that was Frozen. Taking place three years after the first movie, a mystical voice is calling Elsa leading her and Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven on a journey to an enchanted forest which will question Elsa’s powers, Anna’s strength, Kristoff’s love and Olaf’s maturity. The movie stars Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown and Evan Rachel Wood.
To say that I’m a fan of Frozen is a serious understatement. You could say I am a Frozen expert in fact. The first movie is incredibly important to me, I love the characters, the songs and I can read you the script, line by line at the top of my head if I wanted to. With the immense popularity the movie reached, I thought that an immediate sequel would be too much. I love the fact that they took their time and released two shorts in between to keep the fans happy. When the sequel was finally announced and the new look was established with the trailers, it’s safe to say that everyone was pretty excited. It was an incredibly smart move to focus more on powers and action to lure in people who hate the first movie. I, was ecstatic, I loved the trailers and everything they released prior. Seeing how much I loved that first movie, I was incredibly anxious to see the sequel and I have to say, honestly, for a sequel years in the making, Frozen II disappointed me more than it pleased me.
Frozen II is an incredibly beautiful, incomplete movie with insane writing issues. It’s main flaw is it’s messy, uneven story which literally doesn’t know what to do with it’s characters, except for Elsa and Anna. It’s a huge shame whenever I watch a movie and think how better it could have been. It’s honestly frustrating especially when the problems are so clear. This movie has so many wonderful and magical ideas, the first being this enchanted forest. There is an entire arc dedicated to Elsa and Anna’s parents and this forest which was fine but then the movie introduces the feud between the Arendellians and the Northuldra, whom we barely spend any time with. They set up a ton of storylines which were never fully realized beyond a few scenes. This is a rare case where I would suggest a movie be longer, Frozen II is way too short for the ideas it presents.
Since this is a sequel, it’s fair to compare it to it’s predecessor. In my review of the first Frozen I mentioned how fast-paced the movie was. There was never a dull moment, it’s important scene after important scene, that might bother some but in my opinion what held it all together was the cohesiveness of the story. Frozen II‘s narrative isn’t cohesive in any way and it goes beyond pacing and character. Every movie has to have a goal, it’s characters and story have to go from point A to point C by the end of the movie. Frozen II’s goals never go beyond Anna and Elsa. The other characters don’t change in any shape or form and even the changes that are made to Anna and Elsa, they’re incredibly rushed, especially Elsa’s. It is truly magical and amazing to witness but it goes by way too fast. Anna’s arc is relatively short as well. She spends most of the movie worrying about Elsa. She doesn’t have any arc without her sister which can’t be said for Elsa, at least not completely. Kristoff has one of the worst excuses for a character arc in recent memory, although it does make for one of the best scenes in the movie. Even Olaf, yes Olaf had sprinkles of a great arc with maturity and rising emotions but it was nothing more than a tease here and there. It was very clear that no one knew what to do with the characters beyond Elsa and Anna.
Despite it’s messy, rushed, uneven story, Frozen II manages to be an entertaining and surprisingly hilarious hour and a half. The movie does not manage to nail it by the end but to it’s credit, Frozen II has it’s golden moments which I’m sure will stick with it’s intended audience for a long time similar to the first movie. The movie also has some fantastic but brief action scenes which blew me away both times I saw them. Elsa really gets to use her powers and it’s truly an exciting visual treat. The visual aesthetic of the movie matched the insanely detailed and gorgeous animation make Frozen II one of the best looking movies of the year. This is enhanced even further whenever a musical number happens which is easily when the movie is at it’s strongest. The movie had two scenes where a character is singing but it’s just them against a black background, it’s a small thing but visually it’s effective, especially in a dark room with a big screen. To expand and continue on the insane success of the first movie’s music seemed an impossible task but the Lopez’s made the the impossible, possible! The music is just as emotional, empowering and clever as ever.
Songs like Into The Unknown and Show Yourself are instant Frozen classics while newer songs like Lost in the Woods and The Next Right Thing take a more experimental sound with this franchise which also works. The movie also has a strong and very noticeable score by Christophe Beck, I love how themes from the first movie are reinvented for this movie. It’s a small but very effective detail. Another positive is the amazing voice-work done by the cast. Idina Menzel continues to be star of this franchise with the palpable emotion she brings to Elsa. Kristen Bell brought a lot more nuance to Anna and she delivered the emotional scenes incredibly well. Josh Gad as Olaf is the gift that keeps on giving, hilarious and heart-warming. I watched it with my mom the first time and she was legitimately crying tears of laughter. Jonathan Groff brought a lot of charisma and charm to his musical number but other than that, he didn’t have much to work with. Newcomers Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown both get their moments but like Kristoff, they didn’t get a lot to work with.
Overall Frozen II manages to be a perfectly entertaining and hilarious movie for families. It’s the type of movie which is enjoyable while it’s being watched but gets worse the more you think about it. For me, a massive fan of this franchise, I was seriously disappointed with the uneven, messy story with no sense of cohesion and the fact that some characters have nothing to do. While the movie excels with it’s stunning animation and gorgeous music and it truly does have some shining moments which do save the movie, it pains me to say that it could’ve been better.