In 2013, Frozen took the world by snowstorm and proved that love can thaw even the coldest of hearts, my own. It introduced an incredible ensemble of lovable characters in an action-packed film with plenty of drama, humor, and heartwarming moments. For the first time in what seems like forever, all of those characters are back for another adventure. Does Frozen 2 capture the same magic as the original? Does it answer the many many questions that fans have about Elsa and her powers?
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ALL THE SPOILERS
Everything is Awesome
After a flashback to a time when Anna and Elsa were kids sets up some of the underlying premise, we open on a version of Arendelle where everything seems to be going swimmingly. The point of the first song is basically to make it clear that things have been great and nothing has really changed in a while (it’s literally titled “Some Things Never Change”). It is also meant to basically show you what’s going on with each and every one of our main characters. It was a pretty cliché opening and foreshadows pretty much everything that is going to happen if you are paying close attention.
Animated Eye Candy
It became clear early on that Frozen 2 is one of the most visually stunning animated movies that has ever been made. There are a lot more colors in this film than in the original, however, once it gets going it does kind of settle back into the dark and cold theme that we are used to. I have heard all about how difficult it was to animate Frozen, and I imagine this movie was even tougher. It is such an impressive movie to watch, and as a lover of animation, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
The Power of Music
One thing that Frozen did so incredibly well was how they told a story through music. The combination of catchy show tunes (that could easily be translated to a Broadway Musical) and illustrating the way that songs can push the plot forward is a great formula for an entertaining animated musical. Frozen 2 uses the same formula to perfection with its music. I think that the soundtrack is just as good the second time around and it probably does even more in terms of pushing the plot forward than in the original. Kristoff’s solo song “Lost in the Woods” has him channeling his inner 80s rock singer in a hilarious performance. Elsa has a couple of incredibly powerful songs that have been stuck in my head for days. However, I think the most important song to mention is Anna’s solo ballad “The Next Right Thing”. It finds Anna in the lowest place she has been in during either movie. I could really feel the palpable emotion emanating throughout the theater as she quite literally cried out in anguish. I can’t think of any other Disney songs that had the same distraught and hopeless tone of this song and I think it will be wildly overlooked by Idina Menzel’s typical brilliance.
It’s Just a Bit of a Fixer-Upper
When the credits rolled at the conclusion of this movie, I initially felt like it may have just topped the original. However, the more I thought about the plot of this movie, the more I realized it was actually quite a bit sloppier than I originally picked up on. First of all, the pacing of the film is just a little off. When you think about Kristoff’s story arc, you feel like he was in quite a bit of the movie. In reality, though, he disappears after his amazing solo and doesn’t pop up again until he saves Anna by sweeping her up from the back of Sven in full sprint for the second time in the movie. He kind of gets the shaft in terms of how his character is explored. His entire development is centered around whether or not he can muster the courage to propose. Outside of that, he doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie.
The plot is also very predictable. Everything that happens is foreshadowed in some way. From the flag being blown off, to Elsa separating from Anna, the enchanted forest and the people in it, and finally knocking down the dam, it’s all pretty predictable.
I mentioned Anna’s amazing song when she has reached rock bottom. As great a moment as it was, the movie hardly lets you dwell in the emotion as it quickly moves on to the last act. It felt like her song is supposed to be the low point, but it seems like only about 10 minutes of movie time later and the whole plot is resolved. Normally, when I notice problems with plot pacing it can be attributed to writing, however, I actually think this could’ve been an all-time epic film if it were allowed 30 additional minutes on the runtime. The way this franchise is trending reminds me a lot of the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy. I felt like the second film was the large-scale adventure epic in that franchise and executed extremely well in making the audience feel connected to the characters through its emotional moments. Frozen 2 seemed to be going for that same type of film, but didn’t execute quite as well (though I think How to Train Your Dragon 2 could’ve been a little longer as well).
Also, is there no limit to Elsa’s ice powers? I get that she is like the 5th element and all but come on. Using the moisture in the ship to recreate the memories of her parent’s last moments? You’ve got to be kidding me with that one Disney.
I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how genuinely hilarious Frozen 2 is. Let’s be clear: Olaf is portrayed in quite a different light than in the original film. Some viewers may be upset by what the did with him. However, I think everyone can admit that the scene of Olaf basically recapping everything that happened in the original film is pure genius. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did during that section. This movie knows that it is a sequel, and it doesn’t hesitate to make fun of the events of the original film. I love when movie franchises troll themselves with their jokes and Frozen 2 does an excellent job of doing so.
All-in-all, I had a blast watching Frozen 2. It has a very high level of entertainment value for a movie that goes through a lot of serious emotional turmoil. Though it has a lot of story and pacing issues that are ultimately going to restrict it from being considered with one of the Disney elite, it is a must-watch for Disney fans. Will the franchise get a third film to complete the trilogy? Based on how well Frozen 2 is doing at the box office, absolutely.