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Frozen II Review

November 20, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Frozen 2
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Frozen II Review  

Directed By: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Written By: Jennifer Lee
Runtime: 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements

Kristen Bell – Anna
Idina Menzel – Elsa
Jonathan Groff – Kristoff
Josh Gad – Olaf
Sterling K. Brown – Mattias
Evan Rachel Wood – Queen Iduna
Alfred Molina – King Agnarr
Martha Plimpton – Yelena
Jason Ritter – Ryder
Rachel Matthews – Honeymaren
Jeremy Sisto – King Runeard
CiarĂ¡n Hinds – Pabbie
Santino Fontana – Hans

Frozen II is the sequel to Disney’s hottest animated film of the century. Some years ago, the very idea that Walt Disney Animation Studios would have such strong output capable of outpacing the work of Pixar seemed strange, but it did happen. Not to mention, the original Frozen seemed to be in the midst of a Second Disney Renaissance. Admittedly, creating satisfying sequels to beloved properties is a difficult prospect. When crafting a sequel to a beloved film, there’s always a tightrope in creating a story that satisfies fans of the original, yet more than a simple retread. However, returning directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee managed to craft a story for Frozen II that expands on the world of the first film and does not simply rehash the same plot.

Not long after the events of Frozen, the country of Arendelle appears to be prosperous under the rule of Queen Elsa (Menzel), who has accepted her gifts and gained control of her ice powers. However, there are unanswered questions stemming from Elsa’s and Anna’s (Bell) childhoods. When they were children, their father King Agnarr (Molina) told them about an Enchanted Forest. The secrets of that forest start calling out to Elsa, who grows uneasy and longs to venture into the unknown and find answers to the questions plaguing her mind.

When a mysterious voice and spirit appears to call to Elsa, she answers that call and unwittingly unlocks elemental spirits that threaten the safety of Arendelle. Along with Anna, her boyfriend Kristoff (Groff), the magical snowman Olaf (Gad) and Kristoff’s pet reindeer Sven, Elsa and her friends must venture into the Enchanted Forest and Dark Sea beyond Arendelle to save the kingdom. Elsa’s powers might be the only thing that can stop the possible ruin of the world.

Co-director Jennifer Lee, who once again scripts the film, definitely had an unenviable task in creating a sequel that could live up to Disney’s most popular animated feature since 1994’s The Lion King. Thankfully, Frozen II does not rely on the original and simply follow the same plot and familiar beats of the last movie. Instead, Frozen II plays like the next chapter of a larger story, so the narrative has a strong, natural progression. Frozen II explores the mysteries touched on in the first film, such as the origin of Elsa’s powers, the fate of Elsa and Anna’s parents and even that opening title music that never seemed to fit the rest of the movie. Frozen II acts as the denouement for the story. Together with the original film, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have crafted a single, satisfying and complete story that works as a duology rather than setting up a trilogy or countless sequels.

Genius songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are back to craft the soundtrack for Frozen II. Time will tell if the soundtrack catches on as much as the original, but all of the songs sound strong and memorable. Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” is this film’s version of “Let It Go,” and it’s a good number. That said, the it did seem like the number of songs could have been cut down by one or two.

The best song in the movie is undoubtedly Kristoff’s his solo number, “Lost in the Woods.” Essentially, Kristoff sings an early 1990s Bryan Adams power ballad, and it’s absolutely hilarious. Kristoff is more or less the sidekick of the story, but the narrative manages to justify his presence with the acknowledgement that he feels a little left out and left behind as he works up the nerve to propose to Anna. It’s a sequence where the anachronistic, contemporary voice for the Frozen series works to its utmost maximum. “Lost in the Woods” is an unabashed show stealer.

Mileage may vary on Olaf, but his material here generally worked. His comedic bluntness and blissful ignorance provide some strong laughs, and he even shares one of the most emotional moments in the film. One major difference in Frozen 2 is that Olaf here is a bit more well-rounded. Viewers might still find some of his material annoying, but Jennifer Lee actually manages to put Olaf in situations where he exhibits moments of poignancy and gravitas.

The relationship of Anna and Elsa remains at the heart of Frozen II. Most importantly, Anna comes into her own and finds her own strength, independently from her sister, as they both are desperate to protect one another and keep each other safe. The truth of the greater mystery of the Enchanted Forest and how it ties with Anna and Elsa’s family was compelling. Lee did an excellent job of tying up the loose ends.

Once again, Walt Disney Animation Studios brings its A-game in terms of animated, technical wizardry. The animators certainly pay homage to the work of Disney Animation’s forefathers, but they also achieve some stunning visual feats for Frozen II. Also, Buck and Lee provide an autumn seasonal setting that offers a nice variation to the film’s color palette, which imbues Frozen II with a unique look. The new locations with the Enchanted Forest, the mystical Ahtohallan and the Dark Sea provide some great new visual settings as well.

Frozen was about unconditional love and acceptance. Meanwhile, Frozen II is about coming to grips with the past, with overtones about making amends for past mistakes in order to move forward. While it may not be the best sequel ever, this was a satisfying follow-up that makes the story of Frozen feel very complete.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Frozen II is a satisfying follow-up and continuation for the original film. Rather than a tired retread that rehashes the same beats as the original, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee crafted a strong, natural progression to what was established in the original story. The film provides good music, entertaining, charming characters and a show-stealing performance for Kristoff by Jonathan Groff. Frozen II is a great family experience for all.