So Frozen 2 was obviously going to happen. The original film really brought back Disney to the big time and has been a critical and major financial success. This time round, once again, we have directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee in the director’s chair, with Jennifer Lee directing the screenplay, and the entire cast has returned to reprise their roles. I think many people have also been rather surprised by the fact that Frozen 2 hasn’t gone for a Christmas release, though Disney’s also been rather smart in this as to not cannibalize their profits around the time Star Wars is coming out.
Okay, let’s be honest with each other. I am not a fan of Frozen. I dislike pretty much most aspects of it, not just because I’m obviously not the target audience for this film, but also the fact that I have a bit of a personal grudge against it since it beat The Wind Rising, which was one of my favourite Studio Ghibli films, for an Oscar in the same category. I’m sorry, I’m don’t care how much you like Frozen, The Wind Rising deserved the Oscar.
But I promised to not go into this film review with too much of a bias and to review the film objectively. It didn’t help my opinion. Now, one thing I will say is that while this would be a point I would not go into detail about the plot of film. Disney has actually done a very good job this time round not going over too much in the trailers and giving away too much of the plot. Honestly, I think if you see the trailer, you’re not seeing a large portion of the film, in fact, you’re probably at most seeing 25% of the movie. As a result, I won’t be going over too much plot details in this review, since, for the target audience, I do want to keep that level of mystique and mystery there to discover. To put it briefly, there appears to be some sort of foreign crisis involving an enchanted wood, which creates a mission to solve it in order to save Arendelle that’s taken up by Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Christof, played once again by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathon Groff.
The thing is though, another reason to not really go into the plot details is it’s actually kind of the worst thing about the film. The fact of the matter is, this film I swear feels like it goes on way too long. Frozen 2 comes in at a total run time of 1hr 43m, almost the exact same run-time as the original film bar a one-minute separation. Yet, this film feels way more padded. Frozen 2 is an 1hr 43m-long movie that you could probably cut 30 to 40 minutes off and you wouldn’t be missing much. This film’s no deeper or more richly fulfilling than any of the Disney DVD sequels, and some of them were better. Disney once again has really gone back into their habit of remaking sequels to their animated films where there is no need for a sequel to exist and making them just as lifeless and soulless as before. This was very evident with Wreck It Ralph 2, which was another film that left me feeling rather disappointed. The only big difference between now and when they were doing this in the mid-2000s is that there are not as many of them being chucked out as back then, and they’re actually going to cinemas now.
I do get a sense that some effort was put into the writing of this movie, but it really feels very thin. There is so little actually happening in the movie when you really think about it and half the characters don’t really have a reason to be there and have to have some sort of justification. Olaf, for example, has gone from being a semi-pointless comic relief who was teetering on the edge of being annoying to a really annoying comic relief who has absolutely no reason to be in here. There’s a couple of subplots that are thrown in as well to act as padding. It’s no surprise then that a large majority of the characters have spent large sections of the film where they’re written out. It also seems to be that a lot of characters have kind of regressed from their character growth in the first film, something I imagine is going to annoy many people who saw the first one.
If you actually want nostalgia, there’s actually like a minute segment in this film where they comedically recap the entire first film. Guys, it’s Frozen 2, good chances are I saw the first one. I think I summed it up best when I got home after seeing the film in a conversation I had which was my first initial thoughts on the film, whereas the first one feels like the songs are there to facilitate the plot. This time it feels like the film is there to facilitate the songs. This definitely has the feel of “sell the soundtrack” and a lot of the songs are very comparable to the ones that are the in the first one. Don’t go to this film expecting much; no matter what you think of Frozen, these songs are not going to get stuck in your head.
I think ‘Into The Unknown’ will get nominated for best original song, so God help us if it actually wins. There’s also a very, very clear attempt to recreate ‘Let It Go’; this definitely feels like a studio mandate and Disney demanded another ‘Let It Go’. As a result, the film tries it twice and both times, feel soulless. This is an even more stupid decision than putting that song in Kingdom Hearts 3. At least in that one, it actually showed off the technology of the in-game graphics that a PlayStation 4 was able to recreate something similar to one of the Disney’s most iconic scenes. This time, it feels just drab and soulless. There’s even one moment in the film where they have a slight snippet of it. We get it guys, that song’s been played to death. I’m not buying the soundtrack.
Now, if I want to talk about the film’s strongest points, it’s the animation – the animation once again is actually really excellent. Here is something that feels like it’s really worked out very well. There is an excellent use of animation, 3D colour and the environment that they’ve taken advantage of. As far as a film goes on a technical level, it works really well. The film this time goes for a more autumnal theme for its environment, rather than the previous one going for winter. But there’s certainly an aspect of winter obviously; we’re going to have to get this thing to play over Christmastime. The character animation is also excellent, and I really have nothing to scoff about in that department. It’s actually a very well-animated film. It actually does a pretty good job incorporating new technology that’s come about in the time period between Frozen 1 and 2, which you would hope considering there’s been a six-year gap between movies. The acting is pretty much somewhat solid; no one’s turning in a half-arsed performance, I will give them that. There are a few new cast members this time around as well, including Sterling K Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina and Jason Ritter. I definitely will not knock anyone’s performance in this movie. Everyone does a decent job.
I’m not going to lie, Frozen 2 actually made me really genuinely annoyed, not because it’s not a movie made for me because the fact of the matter is, I find this film on a technical level is a failure to its target audience. There’s a really great film-rating podcast episode in which Matthew talks with a couple of other fellow film critics in regard to the live-action Lion King which came out earlier this year, which I’ve previously reviewed, and in it, they were talking about Disney making films which actors’ brands deposit for easy money-makers that are based on previously established properties that will allow them to make the film they actually want to make next, and this is very much what Frozen 2 is existing to be. Though God knows what film is actually going to come about from its inevitable success. The fact of the matter is though, this film is definitely the practice of what Disney has been going for recently, and rather like all the others, it feels soulless, shameless and overly capitalistic in an almost narcissistic fashion.
Frozen 2 is paper-thin when it comes to its plot and characters, and it was a film that fundamentally bored me the entire way through – it was so predictable. It was so unbelievably underwhelming and so bad in just how safe a play it feels on the part of Disney. I really feel that this film will lead to a third movie in order to sell this series as a trilogy, and God help us if they do that because I’m done with these films. The songs are not that great, and despite the fact that it’s very well-animated, it feels like its been made to sell a soundtrack.
If you really need to see it, this is probably one to wait for DVD or Blu-ray, though if you have kids, they likely will have already dragged you to go see it. Oh, and by the way, if you were part of that group that was shining a torch in order to take pictures of your kids in the cinema (in the middle of the movie!), I seriously hope you get banned from a cinema soon enough – you actually interfere with the projector, you selfish bastards.
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