Directed by: Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Written by: Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Alan Tudyk
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
I waited a week to see Frozen II to avoid the crowds, but I also avoided spoilers, and I’m glad I did because it was completely different than I expected. While this is mostly a good thing, the movie wasn’t perfect. It’s also a difficult movie to assess, and especially to score, because of the music. How much should the soundtrack—good or bad—affect the score of a regular movie? And how much is this affect magnified in a musical?
Frozen II outdid the original in some key areas: story and plot, action, animation quality (even considering the six years between films), and setting. However, it was sorely lacking in two major aspects that made Frozen such a success: character development and music.
The plot was interesting. Even the way they developed the conflict, by bringing their parents back and showing Elsa and Anna as children again, was a refreshing and unexpected twist. Then they changed the focus from winter to fall, another good way to spice things up. The scenes with the elementals and the fjords were breathtaking and I honestly couldn’t tell it was animated until people came into view, and sometimes not even then. A few spots were so action-packed and even scary that it was easy to forget this was a Disney princess film, but every moment added to the movie and continued with its themes and ideas; none of it was unnecessary or overly extravagant. We didn’t know about the forest in the first movie, but it was connected to earlier events so seamlessly that it is immediately believable and accepted. Everything about the movie works…except the songs.
Maybe I was expecting too much—and there are several great songs in this film; I would even give consideration to Christoph’s song as being the best song from either movie—but many of the tunes here either didn’t match the part of the movie they were put into, or fell completely flat. Whereas nearly every song from the original was at least fun, there were several songs in this one that I would have deleted completely if I could. Additionally, while I loved the elementals and their scenes, there was almost no character development from the core cast. They didn’t grow, and when the movie ends they’re the same individuals they were when it started. This is a small issue, but I feel this could have been addressed in the time freed up by cutting a few of the worst songs.
Overall, this movie was extremely enjoyable and deeper in tone than I expected. It surpasses the original in nearly every way and any fan of Frozen or of animation in general should catch this one in theaters.