The first Frozen was a massive surprise when it came out. I wasn’t really expecting much from it but it was a really good film and showed the power the animated musical can still have. Frozen was a cultural phenomenon and it would be hard to capture that magic again, but Disney has tried with a sequel. Whilst Frozen 2 has not captured the power of the first film, it is still a pretty good film
Taking place a few years after the first film, the film shows Anna and Elsa successfully ruling the kingdom of Arendelle. However, Elsa starts hearing a voice that reminds Elsa of a story told by her mum of an enchanted forest that no-one can enter after a peace deal between Arendelle and the forest kingdom of Northuldra went wrong. In trying to understand the voice, Elsa awakens the spirits of the forest and brings danger to Arendelle and it’s up to Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff to enter the forest and find a way to calm the spirits. Now the plot of the film is pretty solid, albeit fairly predictable compared to the first film. I was able to get an understanding of the way the plot would move in the first 10 minutes of the film when I didn’t get that impression from the first film. Whilst this is not a bad thing in and of itself and it didn’t harm my enjoyment of the film, it was still an issue for me. I also had a bit of a problem with the pacing of the film. I thought the film was front-loaded with the songs and means that the first half has a much faster pace than the second half. I also felt there were a few more tonal issues here than in the first film. For example, there was a fairly serious scene which was immediately followed by a cheesy, comedic 80s style power ballad.
Whilst most of my comments so far have been more negative, don’t take that the wrong way, I still thought this was a good film. There is some good thematic depth here about the nature of memory and warfare, including some interesting elements about how colonialist ideals get whitewashed to make a nation look better, hiding the dark secrets of a nation. I also felt that the relationship between Anna and Elsa and how it develops was well explored here, showing the improvements to it from the first film, along with how there are still tensions and how the love Anna and Elsa have for each other has grown. Furthermore, whilst I do think the film is more predictable there was one plot element that I was sure would be in the film that I was pleased to see was not, although to say what it is would spoil the film.
The performances meanwhile are pretty solid. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel as Anna and Elsa are solid, their singing voices for the songs being great and the chemistry the two have makes their relationship as sisters and how it develops throughout the film feel genuine. Menzel also does a good job at showing Elsa’s curiosity at the voice and magic of the forest throughout the film. For the comic relief, Jonathan Groff is pretty good as Kristoff whilst Josh Gad as Olaf is decent, but he does start to get a bit annoying at some points in the film. For the new cast members, whilst I think she is underutilised, Evan Rachel Wood is great as Anna and Elsa’s mum, Iduna, having a soft, motherly voice that fits the scenes when she’s with Anna and Elsa, and her excellent singing voice helps make her song, All is Found, the best song in the film. Alfred Molina as Anna and Elsa’s dad, Agnarr, does good work with his monologue at the start of the film. Martha Plimpton, Sterling K Brown and Rachel Matthews are solid in their roles and, whilst his character is set up for a bigger role that doesn’t really come about, I thought Jason Ritter was pretty fun here, although it could be because all I could think of in his scenes is his role as Dipper in Gravity Falls.
On a technical level, the animation is of the high quality that you come to expect from Disney. For me, of particular note is the animation for reflections in the characters eyes and the animation for the wind and water and how they seem to realistically effect the character animation. The music meanwhile is pretty solid overall. Granted, I think they opened with the best song of the film, All is Found, and none of the other songs have the same impact as the songs from the original film. Aside from All is Found the closest the film gets to capturing the feel of something like Let It Go is with Into the Unknown and Show Yourself, but these songs, whilst good, just aren’t quite as powerful to the characters as Let It Go. Meanwhile, the song When I Am Older doesn’t have the comedy chops of In Summer and Lost in the Woods feels like a pretty generic 80s style power ballad which doesn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the songs.
Overall, Frozen 2 is a pretty good film. Whilst it is more flawed than the first film it is still a decent film which has a good bit of thematic depth and has a number of good quality songs and the same high quality of animation as the first film. It’s not an instant classic like the first film, but it is still an entertaining film.
My Rating: 3.5/5