Movie Review: ‘Frozen 2’

Directors: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton

Plot: Queen Elsa is haunted by a singing voice that only she can hear. When elemental forces put Arendelle at risk, Elsa is joined by Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven and a journey into an Enchanted Forest to seek answers.

Review: You’d hope that Disney was feeling confident with this sequel, as Frozen remains their biggest blockbuster to date and a follow-up carries incredibly high expectations. Unfortunately for the studio, Frozen was always intended to be a stand-alone story with all the plot threads tied together at the end. This means they need some contrived reworking of events from the previous movie. It also means a whole mess of exposition.

Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) were told the story of the Enchanted Forest as children before their parents vanished on an ocean journey. Many years later, while the characters of the original film are enjoying a peaceful life in Arendelle, Queen Elsa begins hearing a distant voice. Distracted and sleepless, she attempts to follow the voice and awakens elemental spirits representing fire, water, earth and air causing damage to Arendelle resulting in an evacuation.

Elsa is determined to find the source of the voice and sets out for the Enchanted Forest along with Anna, her boyfriend Kristoff (Groff), his reindeer Sven and the sentient snowman Olaf (Gad). Each has their own personal journey with Anna and Elsa learning some painful truths about their family, particularly in relation to an indigenous tribe known as the Northuldra. There’s quite a bit to take on here, with the lead characters making discoveries about their own parents and their death, the actions of their ancestors and a spiritual story about nature spirits. At times the audiences are getting shunted back and forth between themes of reparations, environmentalism and personal responsibility. The story lurches forward without ever finding a steady pace.

If the creatives struggled to put together a solid story to follow a ‘happily-ever-after’, they were totally lost with the supporting cast. Kristoff is left working with a generic ‘awkward proposal’ plot we’ve seen done a dozen times before, and Olaf is struggling to comprehend a new curiosity that has come with age. The both get benched well before the final act so they only ever feel like they’re included for continuity. There are a handful of new characters, but they don’t get enough screen time to establish themselves.

The story is wonky and inorganic, but fortunately the rest of the movie holds up just fine. Disney continue to push the boundaries of animation technology and the water effects are especially impressive. The autumn theming make much of the environments very easy on the eyes, and the elemental attacks are all very nice.

At an initial viewing, none of the songs stood out as being a new ‘Let It Go’ phenomena. Don’t take my word for it though, because I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to music. Each of the songs did the job just fine, and a couple are very clearly written to showcase the vocal talents of Idina Menzel, which is as spellbinding as ever. All of the vocal talents are on point, with Josh Gad delivering a less irritating take on Olaf, who is a character I’ve found annoying in the past. Kristen Bell is certainly the star of the movie, providing the funniest and most heartfelt moments.

Frozen 2 does not live up to the lightning-in-a-bottle success of the original but it’s far from disappointing. It’s a visually striking and entertaining film that will please the youngest set of fans. It certainly made my daughter a very happy fangirl.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN