Movie Review: "Frozen II"
Although everyone believes that they have already reached their happy ending, Elsa (Idina Menzel) begins to hear a strange voice singing to her. It is a voice that only she can hear, but she knows it is trying to pull her away from her happy ending and the ones that she loves. It also seems to be pulling her to the enchanted forest. However, that forest has been shrouded in a magical fog that does not allow anyone in or out.
The fog has been there since Elsa's father was just a boy, and Elsa knows little of the events that led to the fog's appearance. She knows that the fog is connected to a conflict between her people and the natives of the forest, and she knows that the forest created the fog as a result. Despite her best efforts, Elsa knows that she must put her happy ending on hold to discover the source of the voice and what it wants from. Despite Elsa's best efforts, Anna (Kristen Bell) will not let her sister go alone. Thus, accompanied by Anna, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven, Elsa sets out to find the source of the strange voice.
The Pros & Cons
Anna & Elsa (+8pts)
The Spirits (+6pts)
Convenient Ending (-3pts)
Pro: Anna & Elsa (+8pts)
I enjoyed these two characters' story in this movie. In a sequel such as this one, you would almost expect the writers to have forced conflict between the two characters. However, that did not happen in this movie. Instead, this is a story of two sisters who are each trying to do everything they can to protect the other, with a bunch of great songs to go along with their respective stories.
With Elsa, you have an incredibly powerful Queen, who has mastered her ability to create and manipulate ice. She is confident in her capabilities, and intends to keep her sister out of harms way. Then there is Anna who knows her sister is powerful, but is desperate to follow her so that Elsa does not bite off more than she can chew. This is a story full of magic, and full of great songs, but at its core it is about two sisters who love each other and are trying to protect each other. That is an easy story to get behind.
Con: Kristoff (-2pts)
I did not hate what the filmmakers did with Kristoff in this movie. I actually found a number of his scenes to be somewhat entertaining. However, I got the impression that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with this character in this movie. Rather than leave him out of the movie, they gave him a very typical storyline in which he is trying to propose to Anna, only for that not to go so well for him throughout a few attempts.
It just felt like a very generic storyline and, while there were a few humorous moments, I really was not invested in it. He even dropped out of the story for a good chunk of the film's runtime, which made me wonder why they felt the need to spend so much screentime on him earlier. Again, I did not hate what the filmmakers did with him. I just thought it was very typical, and thought the rest of the characters were developed much better. With that in mind, I am not entirely sure what happened with Kristoff, and why the filmmakers felt the need to give him as much focus as they did, if they did not know what to do with him.
Pro: The Spirits (+6pts)
I liked the idea of adding different spirits into this movie. With Elsa finishing the last movie with control of her magical powers, introducing ancient, powerful, and angry magical spirits gave Elsa a challenge to overcome. It made her use her powers, which was entertaining to watch, but it was clear that the spirits that she was facing were just as powerful, if not more so. It also increased the danger for other characters. This made it so that, while Elsa could handle herself, she still needed to protect those around her.
Additionally, with there being four different spirits, the filmmakers introduced each spirit separately, and as their own challenge. This basically gave Elsa a checklist of things that she had to accomplish before reaching her final goal. It was easy to follow the road that was in front of Elsa. Her road to the mysterious voice, geographically, was not clear to the audience. However, it was clear that Elsa, with the group of protagonists at her side, would have to encounter each spirit before reaching the story's climax. The spirits were entertaining, gave the movie a natural sense of adventure, gave the protagonists challenges to overcome, and increased my interest in the voice that was calling Elsa.
Con: Predictable (-3pts)
I liked the road to the voice that was calling Elsa, but it was really obvious what she would learn when she got there. Sure, this movie was intended for kids, so I am a little more forgiving of this than I would have been if this was not a kids movie. I am sure kids did not find it as obvious as I did. However, the movie very clearly laid out what would be revealed to Elsa at the climax of the movie, and it did so very early in Elsa's adventure.
Then there was the discovery that Elsa and Anna made, regarding the mysterious entity that saved their father when he was younger. I do not want to give either of these things away, but both of these issues were like drawing a pyramid, and leaving the tip off. Then an hour later, drawing the tip of the pyramid, and waiting for your audience to be surprised by the thing that you added. Sorry, it was really obvious what was going to be “revealed.”
Pro: Olaf (+8pts)
If you have seen Frozen, which I do not know why you would be reading this if you have not, then you will know that Olaf is an entertaining character. He is a comedic relief in a kids movie, and he is an effective one. Being a sentient snowman gives him some abilities that are used effectively for comedic moments. Whether it be shape shifting for charades, or being able to take his limbs off so that they can be used for various things, this character is certainly a unique one.
The character’s abilities make way for a number of silly, comedic moments, but his personality is what makes him work so effectively. He is afraid of change, so is holding on tight to his group of friends. He is also afraid of seemingly everything that the group encounters in the forest, but he is trying to convince himself that everything is okay. The character is hopeful, he is playful, he loves his friends, he is obnoxious, he is worried, and Josh Gad's voice works really well for the character. This all made Olaf a very entertaining character to watch once again.
Con: Convenient Ending (-3pts)
The ending of this movie suffered from a few moments that had lazy writing written all over them. The first one was the almost death that happened. This one was a head smacker for me, because it was so obvious that the character would absolutely not be dead. It was also crazy, because the last movie did something just like it, and the way that the almost death was resolved did not make any sense (even in a movie filled with magic and spirits).
The second moment that suffered from lazy writing was the potential consequence of the character's actions at the end of the movie. I do not want to give anything away, but the whole movie built toward what would happen if the main characters did what they would go on to do. Thus, when they did what they did, I was totally ready for the ramifications of their actions, and was totally ready to be impressed with the filmmakers for following through with those ramifications. Then, the filmmakers pulled the rug out from under the issue and basically said "Yeah, you know that thing we kept telling you would happen in this exact scenario? Yeah, just forget about all of that." Again this is a kids movie, so these issues are somewhat forgivable, but they were worth noting and were very obviously a result of lazy writing.
Grade: B+ (89pts)
After the massive success of Frozen, and after the way that Frozen ended, I was curious to see what the filmmakers would do with these characters in Frozen II. I liked what the filmmakers did with this story, but I had a few issues with the plot. To start, it felt like the filmmakers had no idea what to do with Kristoff, but wanted to force the character in here anyway, so they gave him a storyline that was as typical as it was one-dimensional. The next issue I had was that there were two reveals that I saw coming from a mile away. Then the last issue that I had was how convenient the ending of the movie was for both the protagonists and the writers of the movie.
Based on my issues with the movie, it may sound like I hated Frozen II, but that could not be further from the truth. It had some plot related issues, but it is a kids movie, which makes me a bit more forgiving of such issues. There was a lot that I liked about the movie. Olaf got some interesting character development, and he was still the lighthearted, entertaining character that you know from the first movie. Then there was the inclusion of the spirits, which provided a sense of adventure and provided Elsa with formidable obstacles. This movie was about two sisters trying to unlock the truth, while desperately trying to protect each other, and while singing great songs along the way. It had some minor plot related problems, but it was a fitting sequel to the now classic Frozen.