'Frozen II' (2019) A Wondrous Winter Movie Review
A Frozen Phenomenon
In November of 2013, the world had been privileged to a very special event. A Disney animation that garnered a crazy amount of love and box office success that probably hadn’t been seen to that degree since 1994’s The Lion King. Practically overnight, Frozen became an instant hit for Disney fans all across the globe with a theatrical run that lasted several months into the following year. I vividly remember at the time I was able to still buy tickets for the movie during the summer of 2014 if I so wanted, it was that wildly successful. It doesn’t happen very often where we experience a film sticking around in cinemas for eight months straight.
Truth be told, I thought it was somewhat earned and I’m glad that rare occasion happened for a solid flick such as Frozen. The characters were all memorable and charming, the songs were ungodly catchy and well done, and the story was fun and endearing. For a Disney production, it pretty much hit all the right notes! No, that wasn’t a pun. No. Stop it. In all seriousness, I thoroughly enjoy Frozen as a delightful wintertime adventure. While the rest of the fanbase probably sees it as a year-round classic.
Sequel to the Legend
Any time there is a sequel coming into play for a highly regarded film, things tend to get tricky. Comparisons are drawn between the newcomer and its predecessor, whether fairly or not. Inquiries of if the follow-up will take the path of being “bigger, bolder, and better” or “smaller, more subdued, and provocative.” Will it fail to meet expectations or surpass even what the original film had so effortlessly achieved? Will we get The Godfather Part II or are we in for Caddyshack II? Spoiler alert, this is a far cry from ever being on the abysmal levels of Caddyshack II, however this sequel also doesn’t quite reach the legendary levels of Empire Strikes Back either. There are glimmers of really great moments sprinkled into what is mostly passable.
Years after the events of the first movie; Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven (Jonathan Groff again) have made the castle of Arendelle their permanent home together living in total bliss. Until one day when Queen Elsa begins to hear the call of a mysterious voice, our heroes must journey into the enchanted forest to stop what now threatens their kingdom through dark sorcery. Maybe along the way also discover the origins of Elsa’s powers.
When it comes to a sequel’s story, there seems to be an ongoing stereotypical trend of trying to outdo the original by creating grander action set pieces and a relatively convoluted narrative, yet strangely falling short to achieve the accomplishments of the first venture. Frozen II is somewhat like that, only the story is honestly rather simple; good guys go on a mystical adventure to save the day. Nothing complicated about that. Same can be said about the original. Although when discussing the 2013 picture, the pacing was much tighter and more focused on telling a story about two estranged sisters who must learn to be a family once again. This time around it’s about a family that starts out completely fine and ends up basically no different. There is no real arc going on here that’s as strongly interwoven as the themes of sisterhood which unfolded previously. Titles of certain character roles may have changed ever so slightly, but not enough to make too much of a difference. However, I want to reiterate that it is at no point a bad story by any means, but it’s nothing to be impressed by either.
At no point did I find myself wholly invested in much of anything transpiring on screen, I was more or less minimally amused by our likable characters as they go from point A to point B in a mostly standard kid’s flick voyage; i.e. Frozen, Inside Out, Coco, Wreck-It Ralph, etc. A dangerous expedition that takes our heroes on the path of self-discovery, with personal lessons that are abundantly predictable to guess where they lead. On the other hand, I was also never too bored during my stay back in the world of Frozen with enjoyably creative new creatures and breathtaking environments to behold. Plus, there was a few funny scenes that held my attention from time to time. To say the least, the story is a bit of a mixed bag while mainly being an “okay” product, yet nothing all that special.
One of the major drawbacks in this latest Disney tale would undoubtedly be the abrupt stop that the pace succumbs to every so often. For instance; we are provided a few moments for plot development and then it feels as though we are immediately put on hold while the movie randomly inserts an extended musical number with Olaf in the middle of the action, singing about how things will make more sense when he’s older. Or when the movie stops dead in its tracks for Kristoff to sing inside a fairly cheesy 1980s styled music video, coming across less like essential character pieces and more of deleted scenes questionably left in the theatrical release. To the film’s credit, some of these songs were amusing to an extent. At the end of the day though, they should have probably been left on the cutting room floor.
The Snowman & the IcemanClick thumbnail to view full-size
Olaf, in the first movie, is a fun side character with a humorous song and some obscurely dark sight gags along with a good dosage of heart. In Frozen II, Olaf serves no function at all. He occasionally got a few chuckles out of me, but for the most part, he could have been cut out of the film entirely without remotely affecting the plot. Same can be said for Kristoff as well, only contributing any value in the last act when he so conveniently has to assist Anna and Elsa in one crucial moment. Other than that, it’s as though the movie could have also made a few minor changes in the script to render Kristoff totally absent. There’s actually a couple of significant portions where Kristoff and Olaf aren’t present for, resulting in me even forgetting that they were in the movie to begin with. Am I glad to see these characters again? Sort of. While they sometimes can conjure up some laughs, they serve no point and also are some of the reason as to why the pacing suffers from the sudden halts. It would have been nice to have seen these two return with a purpose instead of wandering around for the story to meander an extra ten minutes.
The film’s soundtrack is an element I’m truly split on; one part of me finds some catchy and even melancholic tunes, the other sees a handful of songs so obviously trying to cash-in and replicate the great music numbers from the first movie. Especially when it tried so hard to recreate “Let It Go”. There are at least three “Let It Go”-esque songs crammed into the sequel, not a single one of them quite as good as the actual “Let It Go” song. Some of which hugely contributing to the pacing issues mentioned above. With that said, there isn’t necessarily a bad song in the whole movie, counting the ones that are trying so desperately to be the next “Let It Go” standout. In fact, there are a couple of melodies still rattling around in the old noggin a couple days after my screening.
If I had to choose the songs I believe to best composed on a technical aspect then “Show Yourself”, “Into the Unknown”, and “The Next Right Thing” would be the top contenders on the list. Now when determining the bottom of the barrel, I’d likely choose “When I Am Older” as my least favorite for being so extremely pointless and not all that memorable a song. Honestly, I can’t really recall how any of the other tracks sound; even the ones I listed liking I have difficulty remembering all that much of. No one can claim that issue when discussing the first movie. To be fair, of course it’d be hard to measure up to such a high stature of musicmaking.
VisualsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visually speaking, this is a stunning film with top notch animation and a gorgeous autumn aesthetic throughout the majority of the runtime. Switching from the snowy winter to the warm and welcoming fall look was a touch that I appreciated in differentiating itself from its predecessor; vibrant reds and yellows as opposed to the stark white and brisk blues from before was a breath of fresh air, granted the original colder color schemes do make their return occasionally in beautiful fashion. If anyone decides to see Frozen II on the big screen, I’m certain that they should get their money’s worth from the spectacle projected.
Themes of Shifting Winds
One component I absolutely must commend the movie on is that there is a decent amount of thought and effort written into the themes of the screenplay, most notably within specific songs themselves. Not to say that this is the most thought-provoking material ever written, not even for a family picture, but it still tries to tackle some ideas that everyone at some point can and will relate to. Growing up and coming to terms that not everything will always stay the same. Things will change, people will grow, relationships will evolve, and sometimes all one can do is learn from their past. I won’t lie when I say that these are some important lessons for anyone to learn and they are implemented into the screenplay fairly seamlessly. Again, not the most intelligently written themes and aren’t as developed as they should have been. Sometimes the themes can be portrayed far too blatantly within the dialog. Otherwise, I do appreciate the extra time devoted to teaching a decent moral to kids.
Frozen II is not on par with its 2013 counterpart, but can still provide a fair amount of entertainment here and there. Will fans of the first movie enjoy the sequel? Hard to tell. One of my younger sisters (23) is a major fan of the first movie, loved it from the very moment it was projected onto the big screen in front of her increasingly enchanted eyes. Every year around the holidays, insisting that Frozen be played in the home so she can sing her heart out to every song. Coming out of Frozen II, I could tell that same excitement wasn’t there this time around. If I were to guess, I would say she probably had a small bit of disappointment in this continuation, although still likely thought it was mostly “fine.” I highly doubt that I will ever hear my sister humming the melodies of the sequel or coming close to begging for it to be played on our televisions during Christmas so she can bout out every note. Going off of this information, I have a slight hunch that this won’t resonate with audiences nearly as much as the first film. Although maybe this was an isolated incident and a total fluke.
For myself individually, the movie is okay. Not great. Not terrible. It had potential to do something awesome, but never really reaches that level of greatness. At least I was never all that bored or miserable while watching the movie, there is some fun and pretty scenery to check out. Most likely though, I have the sneaking suspicion that I will forget that there is even a Frozen sequel as this underwhelming memory will fade in no time. Definitely not what filmmakers should strive to accomplish with their musical, for their audience to forget about it entirely. Whoops. Maybe some day I will end up revisiting this entry and find more value to behold. Until then, this sequel is fine for casual background noise and isn’t so much the next unbelievable Disney classic in the making. Rather it is the movie the whole family throws on the TV when they’re low on options.
Which Froze Your Heart More?
Which of the 'Frozen' features is the better movie?
That’s All Folks!
Frozen II… Better than the first? Worse? About equal? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Expected Anna and Elsa’s parents to secretly be alive by the end? Me too! Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a frosty good day!
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© 2019 John Plocar