If there is a single phrase to sum up Frozen II, it would be “Good, but massively disappointing.” Now, I understand this movie is not made for a 22 year-old man and is more guided towards kids and families. On that aspect, I say go watch it and have a good time. There’s plenty of stuff in there that’ll keep kids entertained and adults somewhat distracted. 4/5 on that front. Great family film, I suppose. But my job is to criticize the film as a film, regardless of who it’s meant for. So when I say that Frozen II is the most disappointing film of the year, you know it’s coming from a critic’s standpoint. But what makes it the most disappointing film of the year? Well, without getting too far into spoilers, here’s a brief rundown why.
Frozen II’s story is filled with so much potential for a more mature and phenomenal story. This potential revolves around themes of choosing between family vs. history, letting go of loved ones, changing into a better person, and even learning to cope with grief. Sadly these plot threads either go nowhere or are straight up abandoned. Without getting into spoilers, there was a potential plot thread near the end of the first act that would have seen Anna and Elsa butt heads with each other. It would have been nice and could have shown us a different aspect of their relationship, but it’s never full touched on and instead gets dropped for an Olaf song. And that’s just insulting, especially given how this is part of the film’s “comedy.”
I put “comedy” in quotes, because I only laughed once in the entire film. No joke lands and Olaf is by far the most annoying character I’ve seen on screen in a VERY LONG TIME. Avoiding spoilers, but they do something great with his character halfway through that isn’t followed through by the time the credits rolled. It was a cop out, and an insulting one at that.
This isn’t just regulated to Olaf. With the exception of Elsa, every main character feels extremely unbearable for the first half of the movie. Anna is too clingy and seems crazy whenever she’s with Kristoff. Olaf is Olaf and makes me wonder how Josh Gad is still getting roles. Sven is…well, we’ll get to that. And Kristoff has this running gag that worked a couple of times, but then it’s just rammed into the ground. What’s even worse is that Sven, Olaf, and Kristoff weren’t necessary to the story. Their roles could have been cut or consolidated and it still would have been just as impactful.
This is Anna and Elsa’s story, maybe Elsa’s more than Anna’s. The other character’s screen times make for a disjointing and aggravating viewing experience. They didn’t feel needed and they slowed the plot down considerably. As I think about this movie more, I realize that what made this movie’s score as low as it was was the “Disney-isms” sprinkled within it.
Frozen II’s comedy feels ham-fisted and forced for a good portion of the dramatic moments. There’s a twist villain most people will see coming. Half the songs were either bad or mediocre, and the other half weren’t necessary. There is one song with Kristoff that is actually pretty hilarious, but it’s rather unnecessary for a movie like Frozen. Only three songs hold merit and one of them is debatable. It’s not to say they’re bad, but the music in this movie was the weakest part to me.
With the exception of Elsa’s numbers, I found myself dreading the moment a song came on, because I found the story so engaging. They overplay the cutesy characters in a clear way to sell toys to kids, which — I mean, it’s Disney, so why am I not surprised. And did I mention Olaf ruins a good portion of this movie? If you thought he was annoying in “Olaf’s Adventure,” you ain’t seen nothing yet.
And that’s what really makes me angry because, despite all these disappointing and annoying moments, I still can’t say that’s necessarily a bad film. It’s not. It’s not a great film by any means, but still a good one. And the reason for that is because the better moments cancel out the bad ones. And when I say better moments, I am underplaying that meaning, because this movie has SO MANY PERFECT moments sprinkled throughout. The scenes (about 75% of them) with Anna and Elsa were powerful. Elsa’s musical numbers gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. The film’s message of “change being inevitable and that’s okay” is something I believe many people will be able to relate to. And, like I said before, the story outline is engaging and left my eyes glued to the screen. In many respects, this movie is darker than the first one, full of moments that really made me feel for the characters’ safety, especially given one sequence with a horse that’s likely to scare children and frighten some adults.
I also must mention the animation here. Disney spent their money wisely as this movie is gorgeous to look at, not necessarily where How to Train Your Dragon 3 or Toy Story 4 is at, but a good-looking movie nonetheless. The way color is used and the realistic textures for both clothing and rocks are exquisite, so the animators really earned their paychecks here. And ,although I found some of their characters lacking, the actors for Kristoff, Olaf, and Anna are back and do a fantastic job. But I found Elsa’s performance to be the strongest and most convincing. Even if the songs were pointless and didn’t work for the movie, they were still executed to the best of everyone’s ability.
So what is Frozen II? To sum it all up, it’s a disappointing sequel with a number of great scenes and the potential to be better than its predecessor, but was bogged down by Disney being Disney. I wanted to like the film. I had this movie on a list of 10 films I was super excited for. After that first trailer, I was hooked on the Frozen II hype-train. But now that I saw it, I wish I hadn’t. It’s a good film with some truly spectacular parts, but you’d probably be better off watching those individual scenes on YouTube.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
For me, Frozen II‘s grade flip flops between a 2.5 and a 3. Kids will likely enjoy this film, but, after how much money the first Frozen made, I thought Disney would have at least tried harder. Guess I was wrong.