“Frozen 2” stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, and Sterling K. Brown. Released on November 22, 2019, the film has Anna, Elsa, and their friends journeying beyond Arendelle.
The film is directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. It is a sequel to the 2013 film, “Frozen”, which was also directed by Lee and Buck, and it serves as the 58th film in the Walt Disney Animation Studios library. Well, we all knew this was going to happen. Given how immensely popular the first film was, it’s inevitable that Disney will continue the franchise with a full-length sequel. It has been six years since “Frozen” made its way to the big screen and infected our hearts and minds with its unforgettable songs and its wonderful story about the power of sisterhood. Ranging from its best-selling merchandise to its short films, this is one franchise that refuses to let itself go, whether you like it or not. I’m part of the population that really enjoys the heck out of “Frozen”. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I saw it in the theater at least three times during its theatrical release. It is one of my favorite Disney animated films because of its well-executed story, memorable characters, vibrant animation, and of course, the songs. Without this film, I wouldn’t have met my new Disney Princess crush, Queen Elsa, and I wouldn’t have included Hans on my list of movie characters that I would love to punch in the face repeatedly. You’ll know what I mean when you watch it for yourself. I also thought the “Frozen” shorts were pretty entertaining, even though they’re not on par with the original. So now we have the ultimate test for the Disney team: to see if its theatrical follow-up is worthy enough to continue the global phenomenon. They made a great sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph” last year, so let’s see if they can do the same with “Frozen”.
Taking place three years after the first film, the story once again centers on Queen Elsa (Menzel) and Princess Anna (Bell), two sisters who live peacefully in Arendelle with their friends Kristoff (Groff), Olaf the snowman (Gad), and Sven the reindeer. However, their lives take a sudden left turn when Elsa starts hearing a mysterious voice and an unknown source of magic arrives to threaten Arendelle. With the kingdom in danger once again, Elsa and the gang embark on a perilous journey to the enchanted forest in order to solve the origin of Elsa’s powers and find a way to save their home. This is another animated sequel that expands not only the world created for its predecessor, but also the relationships between the characters. It is also designed to answer a few questions that were left unanswered in the first film, including the one that involves Elsa’s ice powers, so there’s no need for us to keep asking ourselves these questions for the rest of our lives. While it’s nice for me to revisit my favorite characters and learn about the mysteries surrounding the first film, all that matters to me is to see whether or not the trip to the unknown is worth taking. So what’s my take on this highly-anticipated sequel? Well, let me answer that question with another question. Do you remember the low-quality sequels that Disney used to make in the 2000s, like “Cinderella 2”, “Mulan 2”, and “The Jungle Book 2”? I do, and this film surprisingly reminded me of those types of movies. The only difference is that they put some effort into the animation. To its credit, “Frozen 2” didn’t disappoint in solving the mysteries that were left unsolved in the first film and providing a decent amount of enjoyability for the kids. As for everything else, despite having the same team that worked on the original return for the sequel, its heart was about as cold as Hans’ heart. “Frozen 2” had everything it needed to create a compelling and emotional story that delves deep into the first film’s themes, but the direction the filmmakers took for those elements prevented it from reaching the same heights as its brilliant predecessor. There were a couple of parts that weren’t well-earned in terms of the emotional impact and there were also some parts that were dark just for the sake of being dark. When you look at the other animated sequels like “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, these films have dark moments that give the characters and the situations that they’re in a sense of urgency and make you want to know what’s going to happen next. For “Frozen 2”, they tried to do the same thing, but the way they executed those dark moments felt a bit forced to me, which resulted in an unrewarding follow-up that only exists to sell more merchandise. This is the same problem I had with “The Secret Life of Pets 2” a few months ago. It was a cute movie, but it didn’t identify itself as more than just a way to put out more toys. If you don’t like these types of sequels, “Frozen 2” isn’t going to win you over. There were a few bright spots that I actually liked despite its disappointing plot, such as the voice cast and the enjoyable characters. Menzel and Bell both delivered some great chemistry together as Elsa and Anna respectively, and Josh Gad was once again really funny as Olaf. There was this one scene involving Olaf that got me laughing out loud, but everything else from him didn’t quite match the same amount of hilarity as his sense of humor in the first film. One thing you should know about Olaf is that if you don’t like him in the first film and the shorts, you won’t like him in this. If you do, then you’ll like him even more in the sequel. He’s adorable and innocent as always, for better or for worse. As for Kristoff, who is voiced by Groff, he has a subplot that involves him trying to ask Anna to marry him. It’s cute, but obviously cliched. But what about the new characters, like Lieutenant Destin Mattias (Brown) and Yelana (Martha Plimpton), the leader of the Northuldra tribe in the enchanted forest? All I could say about them is that they’re fine additions, even though they weren’t anything too special. Similar to the first film, the animation in “Frozen 2” was gorgeous and immersive, plain and simple. Whether the plot is good or not, you have to admit that it’s hard to ignore its stunning animation style from its beautiful environments to the musical sequences. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the film’s songs. These songs include the likes of “All is Found” by Evan Rachel Wood, “Into the Unknown” by Idina Menzel and Aurora (who voiced the mysterious voice), and “Lost in the Woods” by Jonathan Groff. Like the new characters, they’re fine, but nothing too special. These are the types of songs that you would normally hear from a Disney direct-to-video sequel from the 2000s, and while they’re not entirely bad, they just don’t have the sparks that made the likes of “Let It Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” such massive hits. I do like “Into the Unknown” because of Menzel’s amazing singing voice, but I found the “Lost in the Woods” sequence a bit weird to me. It’s like I was watching a music video from a popular male artist who’s singing about his feelings for his love. It’s strangely hokey, but I got a good smile from how hokey it was.
Overall, “Frozen 2” is a sequel that every young “Frozen” fanatic will go nuts for. Unfortunately, for everybody else, its substance isn’t powerful enough to thaw its cold soul. While the characters are likable and the animation is simply attractive, it doesn’t have a good reason as to why it should exist other than to solve unanswered questions from its predecessor and to sell more merchandise. Due to its disappointing story, its unrewarding emotional depth, and its average songs, this is a pretty big letdown from the Walt Disney Animation Studios team. I was really hoping that it would become the next “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, but no, I was wrong. They still got a lot of work to do in terms of full-length theatrical sequels. If you like the first film, you may or may not like the sequel. The kids will enjoy the heck out of “Frozen 2”. As for the adults, it’ll depend on what they want out of this one. Otherwise, just wait until next year for Disney’s new original project, “Raya and the Last Dragon”.