Frozen 2, 2019.
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee.
Featuring the voice talents of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton and Alan Tudyk.
When elemental forces threaten the future of Arendelle, Elsa and Anna take their friends on a dangerous quest to a long-hidden enchanted forest.
Six years after Frozen captured the zeitgeist and reclaimed the classic Disney musical flair, Elsa, Anna and the Arendelle gang are back in Frozen 2. Much like many sequels of hugely popular films, Frozen 2 has a lot to live up to and while it may not match the grand spectacle of the first film it still delivers a fairly solid tale boasting with impressive imagery, though most of the musical numbers lack the same impact of its predecessor and it doesn’t push as many boundaries as it wants to.
What becomes apparent pretty quickly is how easily the cast slip back into their roles. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell give great performances as Elsa and Anna and connect in a way they did not in the first film. This is a pair of sisters totally comfortable with each other as they try to save their home. Menzel and Bell’s chemistry puts a lot of stock into the sisterly relationship that feels earnest throughout the film with both actresses delivering the emotion from their characters. Elsa and Anna’s screentime is well balanced with each getting significant focus on their journeys, both their joined and individual ones. For Elsa there’s a feeling of ‘what’s next?’ as she continues her reign while Anna is enjoying their life and a little more wary to change, but Frozen 2 doesn’t succumb to a rift between them for the sake of drama or conflict. Everything with Elsa and Anna feels fairly natural and that’s in part to Menzel and Bell.
Aside from the two leads, the rest of the supporting cast give good performances, but feels more of the same. Josh Gad doesn’t do much different as Olaf, even with Olaf’s low-level existential crisis. He’s purely there for comic relief, though he does have at least one moment where he turns a little serious even if it’s still somewhat light-hearted. Jonathan Groff likewise is good as Kristoff and has a good connection with Bell, though there isn’t a whole lot for him to do for the majority of the film. In fact, for a large portion of the second and third acts Kristoff is all but forgotten as he’s separated from most of the cast. That is a problem in and of itself as eventually the main group is split up for an extended period of time and with little for each of them to do. Newcomers like Sterling K. Brown, Rachel Matthews and Evan Rachel Wood don’t get much to do either, though in Wood’s case there is at least a story reason and she does make a mark with the song ‘All is Found’.
Frozen 2‘s story is good for the most part as it tries to be a bit more complex than the original. Whereas Frozen told a fairly straightforward story that flipped several of the Disney princess tropes, Frozen 2 attempts to do more with its character development for the sisters and various themes about sisterhood, growing up and being at peace with nature, creating a not so subtle allegory about the treatment of Natives. Some plot developments get a little lost, particularly around Elsa and Anna’s backstory, while a couple others are left as sequel hooks for the eventual third film. The pacing though is good as there isn’t really a dull moment and the momentum is kept forward, though sometimes it seems like the film is in such a rush certain scenes don’t get enough time to breath before the next starts.
Of course, what the film will likely be remembered for is the music. The cast perform each song very well with Menzel and Bell being the clear standouts – Menzel even getting two of the biggest numbers all on her own. However, while the songs are well written, performed and resonate with the film’s themes, none are as infuriatingly catchy as ‘Let It Go’. Most of the songs are rather forgettable both in tune and lyrics. Only Menzel’s numbers are truly memorable, though Groff gets an amusing love ballad to himself. Kids will still enjoy the music and be singing the songs, but the songs might not stick around for them (which a pro and con for parents).
When it comes to the visuals, Frozen 2 is one of the best looking films Disney has put out in a long while. The detail of the ice, movement of water or gust of wind is incredible. The new environments and colours are quite vibrant, but the characters faces is a high point of the visuals. Each character is so well done with their animated expression. From happiness, pain of anguish or sorrow, the characters go through a wide range of emotions throughout the film while the various action scenes are clear and easy to follow. Even in the action, the characters looks and feelings are still given a significant amount of focus.
All in all, Frozen 2 is a solid enough sequel and puts the characters in some new directions by the conclusion. Menzel and Bell give great performances and do well with their musical numbers, though theirs are likely the only ones people will remember well and even those songs are not as memorable as ‘Let It Go’ or ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’. It’s still a good film to take your kids to, and is especially one of the prettiest films this year, but it falls short from being as groundbreaking as the original even with its attempts to make it a bit more complex.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★