Sunday, November 24, 2019

Movie Review: Frozen II

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Plenty of fun and moving moments
Cons: Uneven tone, preachy at times
The Bottom Line:
This massive sequel
Can’t recapture first’s magic
Still has fun moments




Overall Uneven, but Still Fun at Times

Given how many animated sequels Disney has been pumping out to the theaters recently, I’m not surprised that we are getting a sequel to Frozen.  That film has lost of some its popularity over the last six years, but there are still plenty of fans who want to see what happens next to sisters Elsa and Anna and their friends.  Frozen II has finally come out, but sadly, the movie misses what made the first one great.

As we check in with our friends, change is in the air.  Oh, it may be because the season is changing to autumn from summer, but Olaf the Snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) knows that something different is coming.  While Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is trying to figure out how to propose to Anna (Kristen Bell), it is more than that.  It’s a voice that Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) keeps hearing.  She doesn’t know what it means, but she feels it calling to her from the north of Arendelle.

The country to the north had been the subject of stories when Elsa and Anna were little girls.  But how will the stories their parents told them match the reality.  Will the sisters and their friends be able to figure out the secret that will impact their own kingdom as well?

If you go back and look at the original movie, you’ll find some pretty serious events and themes lightened by comic relief, most noticeably from Olaf.  That first movie managed to find the right tone, incorporating the humor without feeling out of place.  This movie doesn’t pull that off as well.  The comedy is funnier, but the drama is darker, and it feels inconsistent as a result.

Now, don’t misunderstand, this movie has some extremely funny moments.  Olaf steals several scenes, but the funniest moment might be the song that Kristoff gets.  And that’s all I will say about it so as not to spoil the surprise.  All the adults in the audience when I saw it were dying.  I honestly think we were laughing harder than the kids were as many of the jokes seemed to be aimed at us.

And that might be part of what the problem with the film was – the humor comes across as jaded.  I’m thinking especially of Olaf’s songs.  Yes, they are funny, but instead of enjoying his naiveté like in the first film’s “In Summer,” this movie mocks him more.  Plus, the jokes at his expense in the first film were ones that kids would get.  Here, they will probably leave kids asking more questions of their parents to understand what is so funny.

Then there’s the main story that sets us out on big adventure.  At the heart of it is a big secret.  I actually guessed what the secret was early on, and sadly I was right.  This movie is used to score points with the backstory, and that predictability cheapens it.  Considering the first movie put a twist on true love (something I loved), it would have been nice to have a twist on the secret.

Having said that, there were other themes I did appreciate.  While Olaf is worried about change, Anna does her best to reassure him that some things don’t change, like how much people love each other.  Things get dark at the climax, and Anna finds herself needing to give herself a pep talk.  Her song at that point, which had been a reoccurring theme, is something we all need to remember to do when life gets hard – take a step toward “The Next Right Thing.”

Speaking of music, it is once again a huge part of the film.  I feel like a couple of the songs tried a bit too hard to be the next “Let It Go.”  While the songs are fun and advance the story, I don’t feel that there is another breakout hit we will all get tired of hearing here.  If there is one, it will be “Into the Unknown,” but even it doesn’t feel like it captures that “Let It Go” lightening in a bottle.

Technically, the film is great.  While the characters are stylized, there are some amazing shots of the animated world they live in.  Likewise, the voice cast all does a great job of bringing their characters to life.

I know that Frozen II will be big.  Everyone will need to go see it.  But I don’t feel this film will have the long life the first one did.  There are plenty of fun parts to the movie, but on the whole, it doesn’t capture the magic of the original.

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