One Liner Review:
An okay sequel that tries to do something very different, but ends up missing out on some crucial elements of storytelling.
Here’s a movie that successfully digs into the past of our characters a fleshes out some of the unanswered questions from the first movie, and yet it still makes an incredibly amount of mistakes. For example, instead of being satisfied with giving us back story about the parents, this one goes all the way back to the Grandparents to find its villains in characters who have been dead for decades. It features Element Creatures, but does this in such a wY that most of these creatures are unrecognizable and you really have to stretch your mind to make sense of them, (Ex: the fire element creature is a salamander.) The story is just okay, and for all the time they put in between movies, you would expect this one to have been a whole lot better.
Frozen 2 took a while to make. Especially considering that the original was one of the highest grossing Disney movies of all time. That first movie came out in 2013. Now, six years later, we get the sequel. Disney was most likely playing the idea that distance makes the heart grow fonder… so the longer they made us wait, the more we would miss it. Or maybe they were just taking their time to figure out the best story. If that’s the case then they certainly didn’t accomplish their goal. The plot here might be very different than that of the original film, but by leaving out some pretty basic elements of storytelling, it leads to the movie falling short of its mark.
To be specific, there’s no villain. None. Granted the first movie’s villain was a surprise, and only made clear to us towards the end, but even still, you needed that. The surprise was a major twist, and it most definitely worked. This sequel wants to make the case that these movies aren’t really about the villains, but about the relationship between the sisters. Great. Why can’t it be about both? The sequel also wants to play with nature and magical elements in the air. It all turns out to be pretty dopey.
In the first half, everything seems to be working fine. Consider the first half to be all setup and the second half to be all follow-through. Only the movie doesn’t follow-through. Still, we get a solid first half that does find some interesting ways to expand the world of these characters. It does that by actually by going backwards. It tells about our characters’ past, from before the first movie even started. And it answers questions….Why were the parents away from the girls? How did they die? Answering these questions left open by the first movies is a pretty smart move.
Any time a sequel can go back to help flesh out things from the previous movie that weren’t made entirely clear, it’s pretty awesome. It’s a form of fan service, giving the audience answers to what they’ve been wondering. The Lord of the Rings sequels did it beautifully… The Two Towers and The Return of the King. In the Two Towers, the movie opened by showing what happened to Gandalf when he went over the side of a cliff. And then Return of the King began by showing us how Gollum came to be the way he was. Frozen 2 doesn’t do anything in those levels, it doesn’t show us something we saw previously from a different angle, but even still, giving us more about the parents’ story is a nice touch.
Early on we see the parents telling the two girls, (Elsa and Anna,) bedtime stories. We see one story about a battle between the girls’ grandfather and the people of Arendelle (their kingdom,) versus the elves of the woods. The story involves a peace treaty between them, and then a moment where out of nowhere, one side decides to attack the other, and a battle breaks out. While it’s a great idea to start it with a flashback, learning more about the parents and the story of the lives of these girls, before the events of the first film, the story isn’t really about their lives. It isn’t even really about their parents’ lives. The elements that do get fleshed out here about the parents, (how they died, and what they were looking for,) are great. But this story decides to go all the way back to the grandfather, and that’s a mistake. When the only villain is a character in the back story who died over a decade ago, you’ve got a problem.
The story has Elsa suddenly start hearing voices. Out of nowhere. It’s three years since her coronation, so maybe that date means something. The rock troll characters from the first movie show up and tell Elsa the elements of nature are upset about something and she has to go find out why and restore the balance. So Elsa, Anna, Christoph (the guy who is dating Anna,) Sven, (his reindeer,) and Olaf (a living snowman,) head out to reach the Enchanted Forest. When they get there, they run into a mist that surrounds everything. Elsa’s being there clears the mist away, but it also unleashes the rage of the elements who threaten Arendelle, which causes everyone to evacuate. None of this is very interesting.
At this point, our characters come across two different groups of people who have been trapped in the forest, while the most surrounded them. It’s been decades. Basically since the time of their Grandfather. The people here are the Northuldra (people of the Forest,) and an army of Arendelle soldiers who have been stuck there for some time. Our characters now start learning about the history of the Northuldra, and their conflict with the people of Arendelle. Apparently these groups were once friends, during the time of their Grandfather. We even had a dam erected to keep the water of a river from flooding the forest. But then battle broke out between the two sides, for no understandable reason at all, and the mist surrounded everyone. Oh and their mother, who was a Northuldra, saves their father.
So now the girls need to take on the different element spirits. That idea would be incredibly cool if the element spirits were given real physical form, or if in any way this was made clear to the audience. Instead, what we get is a tornado when the girls first arrive (which is meant to be the Air spirit,) and a salamander, which is somehow meant to be the fire spirit. It’s pretty ridiculous. How about give us real element creatures, like giants made of these elements? Something like we got in Spider Man: Far From Home, with the Elementals, or Captain Planet.
When it gets to the rock spirit, really it’s a bunch of rock trolls. The fact that these trolls together make up the rock spirit, is once again, not very clear. What a surprise. And by the end of the movie, the conflict is simply Elsa trying time get in front of a tidal wave to stop it from crushing the kingdom. Do you think she makes it? Without a villain, or even understandable creatures that our characters have to deal with, the movies plot definitely has issues.
And yet, there’s still plenty to like about this film. There are tons of songs. Most of them are pretty good. And while they don’t repeat any songs from the first movie, many of the songs in this one feel like a take on those songs from the first. Like here’s this movie’s version of “A Bit Of A Fixer Upper,” or of “Let it Go,” or of “Love is an Open Door.” It’s kind of fun hearing familiar sounding ideas, but variations on them with completely different lyrics. These songs and the lively visuals that accompany them, definitely add to the first half. But by the second half, they get tiresome. That’s when you realize that it’s just too many. Especially when some of them start getting slow and sad. And that’s pretty much representative of the way the movie feels. The first half works because you believe in the promise of where it’s going. the setup is fun, and the songs are entertaining. But by the second half, when you realize there is no great payoff here after all, and the songs have worn out their welcome, things start to fall apart.