Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee | Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios | Rating: PG
Disney’s Frozen took the world by storm in 2013, capturing the hearts of children and adults everywhere. Backed by typical top-notch animation, fun characters, and world number one soundtrack, Frozen ended as the highest grossing movie of the year, bringing in nearly $1.3 billion. An eventual Frozen 2 was an inevitability.
A sequel is a tall task for any movie, and that pressure is exponentially greater when following up a smash hit like Frozen. Unfortunately, Frozen 2 doesn’t quite measure up.
We pick up with the story three years after the events of the first film. Elsa (Idina Menzel) has settled into her role as queen of Arendelle, and Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are happily in a relationship. And of course Sven the reindeer and Olaf (Josh Gad) the snowman are still hanging around the kingdom.
Their happy little life gets thrown for a loop when Elsa starts hearing a mysterious voice call out to her. This leads to a discovery that puts the entire kingdom at risk. Elsa, along with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, make their way to an enchanted forest. They hope to find there the origin of Elsa’s powers, which just might be the key to saving the kingdom.
It’s this plot where Frozen 2’s problems begins. First and foremost, there’s no true villain or antagonist that the group is fighting against. There are challenges and obstacles to overcome, of course. But there isn’t a central person or group in opposition. This leads to lulls in the story, unsuccessfully filled in by uninteresting or overplayed B plots.
One of those side stories is about Anna and Kristoff’s relationship. They’re together, though not yet married. Kristoff wants to propose but has trouble finding the right time and place to do so. This allows for several opportunities for jokes, but they fall flat and end up feeling forced. Anna and Kristoff are extremely likable characters on their own, but Frozen 2 doesn’t do enough to make the audience care about them as a couple.
And then there’s Olaf. Though sure to be a hit with kids (those at my showing couldn’t stop laughing at the affable snowman), he will be a swing and a miss for the older crowd. To be fair, Olaf is responsible for several of the funnier parts of the movie, but his schtick is way overplayed.
Frozen 2 would have been much better served having an actual character oppose the heroes. That automatically allows for scenes from that person’s perspective, scenes that feel natural and necessary to the story. Instead we get these B plots that come off more as a function of padding the run time rather than furthering the plot.
A Rare Mis-step with Music
A hallmark of Disney animated movies is the music. Fans of the movies can rattle off song after song from the various movies that they love. Frozen was no different, even giving us arguably the studio’s most popular song to date in “Let It Go.” But sadly, Frozen 2 has nothing that even comes close. None of the songs are bad, but none are particularly great either. “Into the Unknown” is clearly the movie’s stab at an Oscar (and let’s be clear, a nomination and win still wouldn’t be surprising), but it falls far short.
What’s more, you can argue the best song was actually cut out of the movie.
Still Some Good To Be Found
Even with all that, there is definite good in Frozen 2. The animation is top notch and it truly is a visual treat. The voice cast is stellar and there’s not a weak performance to be found. And Frozen 2 is a great movie for kids; the younger audience is going to eat it up. But part of the magic of Disney movies is that the studios finds a way to appeal to both the young and the older. But this time around, there simply isn’t enough for those in the audience who won’t be satisfied just by watching Olaf goof around.
An Overall Letdown
While certainly not a bad movie, Frozen 2 is ultimately a letdown. There’s fun to be had with the visuals and voice work, but the dull plot and weak side characters drag it down far below its potential.
Great animation and voice work can’t save ‘Frozen 2’s’ lackluster plot and underwhelming songs.