Frozen 2 (MOVIE REVIEW)
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idena Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina
Frozen 2 is quite the difficult film to talk about without discussing the shere LUCRATIVE success the first film garnered back in 2013. It comes to no shock that Frozen as a Disney franchise has become quite the cultural phenomenon that it has become, garnering two additional short films, tons of merchandise, a ride at Walt Disney World, along with a successful Broadway production that it’s safe to say it captured the hearts of many. And though Frozen mostly suffered from a poor representation of Depression through Elsa, along with how the songs were overplayed so much that it wasn’t fun to talk about anymore, it really doesn’t come as a shock that a sequel was going to be on the cards, which should come as a huge challenge for directors, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, when trying to figure out how to tell a story worthy of sequel status. And the final results of this come with both major positives, but also some major negatives all at once in the process.
Frozen 2 picks up 3 years after Arendelle was restored from Eternal Winter as Elsa starts to hear a mysterious voice which leads to an Enchanted Forest once home to many tribesmen that the Arendelle were once partners with until a mighty battle took place which segregated the two kingdoms from each other. When Elsa answers this calling and accidentally wakes up the forest spirits forcing the people of Arendelle to evacuate, the whole gang including Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven set off on a journey to discover this Forest and look for answers about how to restore their home and also uncover the real truth regarding the disappearances of the sister’s parents, along with how Elsa was born with Ice powers.
Frozen 2 on its surface has a very jam packed plot for a sequel, since it’s main priority first and foremost seems to be about desiring to expand upon the first film’s world and adding some additional lore to the history of Arendelle whilst also developing a mystery regarding Anna and Elsa’s family. The film starts off quite strong as we are reintroduced to the world again via a flashback and we learn of this enchanted forest similar to how the sisters do as children to help the audience get up to speed with the events about to occur. But whilst Frozen 2 tries its absolute best to try and sell this story and try to sell it as a true epic, what ultimately kills its momentum is just how convoluted the whole narrative turns out to be. Like many weaker sequels, the film seems quite content with adding more elements to the lore of the film’s world without ever mentioning before in any predecessors that came before and at times it can be shocking how some younger children might be able to follow the plot in any conceivable way. It’s not without its moments and the film can do an excellent job at selling many of the film’s more emotional moments when the time calls for it, but none of it feels well earned when it’s already too messily written to even comprehend some of the film’s more twist heavy elements. It’s very clear that with Frozen 2, that it’s message in the film is about having the accept the mistakes of your family’s past and finding a way to make things right for the better of the world so when it unnecessarily overcomplicates things to make some time in between to have some tonally inconsistent with the annoying snowman, Olaf, it only makes you question of the film’s creative choices and why they seem so unbelievably brash in the first place.
The same also applies to the film’s side characters unfortunately. Similar to the first film, the best aspect it has going for it is the dynamic that Elsa and Anna share as sisters. Having been separated for most of the first film until near the end, it feels very refreshing and endearing to see their bond in a more prominent light this time around. Elsa features EASILY the most improvement amongst any of the cast, mostly thanks to how she mostly sticks for herself completely instead of acting as a dangerously depressed individual and seeing her unique arc in the film regarding her having to conquer how own past and finally accept herself for who she is through rescuing this forest, finally proves how she has been seen as this inspiring figure for many young girls this whole time. Anna, similarly, also has a good amount to do here, now having saved Elsa from her ex-boyfriend’s evil clutches, feels a hugely inept responsibility to protect her from anything necessary, and though it does make her come across as a little over protective, it’s all part of her arc in the film where she has to learn to fight for herself and realise that not every battle has to be faced with herself alone. She has to learn to be more accepting of her sister’s decisions even if they seem rash to her and it works so much better than last time when she was too naive to believe that getting engaged to someone she met that same day didn’t at all seem shady. However, Kristoff this time around really gets a backseat to this film’s story serving this time very little narrative purpose to the events that occur. But seemingly, the filmmakers have likely realised this, which is why the film seems to want to feature s ubplot where he tries very hard to propose to Anna throughout the film, which mostly leads to the most frustrating moments of the picture where it seems like any chemistry the two shared before gets lost in a barrage of miscommunication that goes nowhere.
But on a more positive note, where Frozen 2 might lack in its writing and its characters, it more than makes up for in both the visual and musical department. This is an absolutely gorgeous film that greatly benefits from the new locations that the gang make their ways to, along with the impressive updates they made to the character models to make the whole team look more expressive and detailed than before, even for the original 2013 film which already looked great on it’s own. The lighting is also very on point using a lot of purples and browns to sell the autumn setting of the enchanted forest and the way the film displays the tribes in the film as more rural folk compared to the royals displays some nice visual storytelling amongst the weak script. The soundtrack for this film also benefits from these new visuals. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez once more to write songs for this film and also contribute to the story this time around, and the new tracks they provide for this film feature a wide variety of different genres to fit the different moods the film features throughout. Most will likely look to the new Elsa song, “Into the Unknown” as a strong example of how great the songs are this time around given that it is basically the film’s “Let it Go”, but other tracks such as “Lost in the Woods” and "Show Yourself" see the married duo experiment with new genres that feature catchy beats that also serve some thematic purpose to the story. Only time will tell to see if this film gets the same amount of love and attention for its songs like the first film did for better or definitely worse, but it doesn’t disregard any of the great effort displayed here. Likewise, Christophe Beck’s music score is also a strong effort, building on many of the original’s themes and music tracks whilst also adding some new spins to fit the darker tone and higher suspense.
Frozen 2 feels like that special type of sequel where practically every aspect of it feels both equally times better and worse than its predecessor. It’s darker tone, stronger emphasis on wanting to expand its world and the sister’s relationship, along with the amazing soundtrack and solid music score help in some ways to elevate it from its 2013 counterpart, but what holds it back are the pointless subplots, weak screenplay with an unnecessarily convoluted plot, along with some of the utterly bizarre choices some of these characters make towards the end make some of the improvements that Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee try to make feel all not all that earned and warranted. It’s very likely that many families will be checking this one out, and in that case they will most likely finds huge amounts of enjoyment just from the songs and entertainment value along, but as a sequel and a general fantasy epic, Frozen 2 feels like the most hardcore definition of a heavily flawed masterpiece. An excellent film with equally as much bas elements to make it the conflicting experience it is. Let’s just hope Disney Animation and their team take this feedback in their stride, and if they ever decide to cap this off as a trilogy, take these criticisms to make one big finale that could possibly bring Anna and Elsa’s journey to a close.
FINAL RATING: 5/10 (AVERAGE)
Messy Plot and Screenplay
Confusing Character Choices