Directed by: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Premise: Taking place three years after the events of the 2013 film, magical queen Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) sets out to discover the source of her power. She discovers an enchanted forest that holds the secret of her family’s history.
What Works: Whatever its other faults, Frozen II is a marvelously crafted piece of animation. The backgrounds and characters have vivid texture and the film contains several outstanding set pieces. In fact, Frozen II is probably the best looking digital feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. 2013’s Frozen was one of the most popular Disney films in recent years and the sequel is geared toward the fans. It provides much of what viewers enjoyed the first time around and fans ought to enjoy it.
What Doesn’t: The visual polish of Frozen II is about all the film has going for it. In every other respect, Frozen II is underwhelming. It takes absolutely no risks and it is never as smart or as funny as the first Frozen. The original picture introduced its characters and sent sisters Elsa and Anna on journeys of self-discovery that dovetailed together and subverted the conventions of Disney princess tales. The sequel does none of that. Anna (voice of Kristin Bell) has almost nothing to do nor do Kristoff and Olaf (voices of Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad). None of the characters develop in a meaningful way and even Elsa’s discovery about the truth of her family history changes nothing. That reveals a curious tension in this story. Narratives and characters need to evolve and one of the themes of Frozen II is the inevitability of change; there’s even a song about it. But the filmmakers resist change. They dabble in expanding the story world but the characters are stuck in the same position, perhaps because enacting real change would possibly threaten Disney’s golden goose. This handicaps the drama. Frozen II has nothing at stake and there are no sacrifices; the few moments of consequence are undone just moments later. One of the qualities that distinguished Frozen was its music, led by the ballad “Let It Go.” The music of Frozen II is competent but unremarkable. There is no equivalent to “Let It Go” in this sequel and the songs are as generic and unaffecting as the rest of this movie. Ultimately, Frozen II has no reason to exist. The conclusion of the first film didn’t suggest a sequel and the filmmakers do not present a compelling reason to continue this story.
Bottom Line: While not a bad film, Frozen II is mediocre. The film is technically impressive but it is inert and hollow. This is a motion picture as a corporate product; it exists only to capitalize on an intellectual property and commercial necessity asphyxiates every creative possibility.
Episode: #779 (December 8, 2019)