Directed By Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring – Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel
The Plot – Anna (Bell), Elsa (Menzel), Kristoff (Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
Rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements
– Enhanced animation. “Frozen” was a beautifully illustrated film on its own merits, but I actually think the boldness of special effects and variety in visual landscapes makes this sequel even more ambitious on this important comparison. Not only is the vibrancy more authentically detailed in measures such as decomposing trees, free-flowing water, or character likenesses, which feel even more focused than its predecessor, but the explosion of color pallet is one that visually allowed it to play simultaneously with the barrage of tonal shifts and moods that the script experimented with. On appeal alone, “Frozen 2” brings forth all of the style of familiarity that we’ve come to expect from Disney, with the experience in articulation that takes it one step further, and it proves that production took this second installment seriously in making it pop with some of the measuring sticks in style that the company has maintained.
– Musical pulse. It’s no surprise that a property like this conjures up a completely fresh and emotionally emitting series of new musical numbers to play into the very important beats of the story, and while nothing is as addicting as the radio earworm that was “Let It Go”, the tracks encased show off an earthquake of resounding talent that lift the performances even higher. Idina Menzel is a vocal firestorm here, stretching notes far and wide to where other Disney kingdoms could hear her, as well as supplanting a psychological sting in lyrical capacity that really allows the characters to come full circle with what’s burning inside. Likewise, the inclusion of top 40 artists at the helm, like Kacey Musgraves, Weezer, and Panic! At the Disco, give it a rich sense of pop culture appeal that are rendered superbly from Menzel’s vocal capabilities, which know no boundaries. My personal favorites are “The Next Right Thing” or “All Is Found”, two tracks about making the next pivotal move to usher in what is missing from beneath. It caps off an impressive dual offering of inevitably cherished favorites that prove Disney still has their finger on the pulse of its characters and musical storytelling.
– Sisterly bond. This was easily the biggest strength of the movie for me, as the importance between Elsa and Anna gives way to a conflict that tests them both mutually for how it will shape them dramatically different by film’s end, all the while preserving why each of them are important to the well-being of the other. The fact that these two heroines exist in the same world is a testament to the progression in Disney’s contemporary ideals, but beyond that, it’s the stark contrast in their character structures that makes each of them a necessity to what the other lacks. Elsa is obviously physically strong, but her emotions are always tender. With Anna, she lacks the same kind of talents that Elsa has, but it’s her intelligence and persistent spirit that helps her constantly overcome the odds. There’s also much more opportunity to see the sisters exist simultaneously in the same frame, as opposed to the first movie which kept them secluded from one another. This co-existence to the delight of the second movie preserves a lot of heart and meaning for family that resonates soundly to the narrative, and makes the movie that much better when all hands are on deck working together.
– Driven message. This movie deals with many tribes and cultures that have to put their differences aside for the benefit of coming together and making something great, and in that regard it’s a timely message that transcends the screen seamlessly, for what we as a world can take with us. We’re currently living in a world where everyone thinks and lives differently, and that somehow inspires arguments among us, but if each of us grew our acceptance for the very same people we label as different, then that would help us understand and grow together with so very little conflict. Because of that, I respond to this film more than I do the first movie, even if I felt the first accomplished more within its screenplay that translates to the integrity of its film.
– Expanding universe. The movie digs deeper into the mythology of magic in this installment, taking us through the kingdom of Arendale, the enchanted forest where much of these magical gifts live and breathe, and the parents of Elsa and Anna, and their roles in such a place. This not only makes the setting of the film feel bigger and more magical by focus, but also gives Elsa a place where, for the first time in her life, she feels truly welcome and appreciated for the gifts that have otherwise alienated her from her community until now. There’s plenty of excitement within this forest that leads to no shortage of unpredictable vulnerability for our protagonists, as well as what can be determined as the film’s only antagonist, since no such unnecessary cliche pops up throughout the movie. It proves that disconnect can sometimes be our greatest adversity, and with urgency ringing ever so present, forces Elsa to use more of her powers in a way that seemed restrained in the first movie.
– Floundering humor. Because much of the tonal capacity seems heavy on the elements of dramatic and family tension, the comedic influence of the script feels very undercooked and flat in its execution. This is mainly seen through the eyes of Olaf, an annoying snowman who revels in sequel cliche 1,904, in being an amplified version of who he was in the first movie. His deliveries interrupt during some pivotal moments of exposition between human characters, and he grates on our nerves to the point where characters and locations within the film are trying to shrug him away as a gnat that won’t submit. I’m not kidding on that, there’s a scene where the forest itself is torturing this snowman because of the volume of his vibrant personality, and when a setting in the film is agreeing with my opinion, I know that he would’ve been better left on the foreground of what transpires throughout, but of course kids need their goofiness if they’re going to remain seated for 91 minutes.
– Familiar traits. Disney animated sequels have a history of introducing a fresh story to the second chapter that never existed or was mentioned once throughout the first movie. It’s funny because this memory with the family that opens up this movie just so happens to play at the exact time when all of these movements are about to take shape, and conveniently lays the ground work for what’s to follow. My big problem with this is if saving the forest was so urgent, why didn’t the voice try to contact Elsa in the first movie? Wasn’t it important then? This more than anything leaves “Frozen 2” with a straight-to-video concept that was prominent throughout the 90’s, taking a formula of a plot that feels like it stems from another movie, and reshaping it in a way that fits these characters and predicaments accordingly. The trailer echoes this idea, because never once did I get this plot from what it was advertising, proving how thrown together everything feels to make a few bucks.
– Lacks creativity. As to where the first film by 2013 standards wasn’t afraid of breaking conventional fairy tale tropes, this sequel is made up of nothing but tropes. The plot is extremely predictable once all of the pieces are assorted, which is compromising to the pacing because most of it is framed like a mystery. Likewise, the film teases us with a daring and deceptively dark tonal shift by the end of the second act, which brings forth a daring decision for one character in particular, but then erases it all with an ending that doesn’t dare test the feelings of its youthful audience. There’s also characters like Kristoff, who are given about as much to do in the foreground as the very fog that surrounds this enchanted forest. He’s given one aimless direction, where he constantly tries to propose to Anna with very little success, and it overstays its welcome by the second time the arrow lands on him to make a pivotal move to the film’s logic of including him. “Frozen 2” establishes nothing to add onto the “Happily Ever After” conclusion that its predecessor cemented, making its inception unnecessarily tacked-on with its lack of importance.
– Character decisions. There are a couple of these in the film that really made me scratch my head, and grow concern for how little these screenwriters may have actually paid attention during the first movie. One deals with Anna, and the other deals with Elsa. The former puts a lot of people in danger for an idea that could’ve easily been produced, especially considering she has the firepower and manpower of an entire army at her disposal. On the latter, it’s the decision she makes that totally contradicts what so much of the family narrative and sisterly dynamic that prospers in two movies within this franchise. This sets her up in a way that will inevitably doom her moving forward, but my guess is that’s intended so the Disney corporation can justify tacking on even more sequels. These decisions rival only Captain America’s during “Endgame” this year, and outline these otherwise admirable female leads as shadows of their former selves.
– Too many characters. With the exception of Elsa, every single character from this movie could’ve easily been left on the editing room floor, due to their lack of importance towards what transpires. Making this an Elsa only story would not only enhance her isolation that she constantly feels from the rest of the world, which in turn would enhance empathy for her current vulnerable predicament, and leave off all of the subplots entirely, which stack-up to Tetris levels of convoluted. This is Elsa’s story, and Elsa’s transformation, so why not just start it by having her stumble upon this enchanted forest, learning each beat of the rules naturally as her progression through it goes on? It would omit some of the clumsy exposition during the opening scene that outlines everything we’re about to go through. If you watch this movie and give me one reason why any of the other characters deserved to be in here, I will retract my statement. Until then, this should’ve been a Disney Plus movie told entirely from Elsa’s perspective.
EXTRAS – The voices that Elsa hears are so obviously a rip-off of “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Pay up, Disney.
My Grade: 5/10 or D