When Disney’s “Frozen” hit theaters in the winter of 2013, it became an instant sensation. Moviegoers around the world instantly fell in love with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and the rest of the film’s characters. “Frozen” toys and other merchandise could be found in most major stores, and children around the world started dressing up as their favorite characters. Don’t even get me started on how inescapable the song “Let It Go” was.
“Frozen” grossed over one billion dollars at the box office, which, at the time, made it the fifth highest grossing film in history — though it now sits in the number 15 spot. Considering the massive success the film had, it made sense when a sequel was officially announced.
While producing a sequel to “Frozen” seems like a no-brainer, it actually marks the first time Disney Animation has ever released a theatrical sequel to a Disney Princess movie. All of the sequels to other Disney Princess films — such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella” — were direct-to-video releases, meaning they never hit theaters.
I’ve been a big fan of Disney Animation’s reluctance to do theatrically released sequels, mainly because I believe their time is better spent developing new, original films such as “Tangled,” “Zootopia” and “Moana.” Regardless, I was curious to see how “Frozen II” would turn out.
Though I did have fun with “Frozen II,” I felt my original suspicion proved true; the sequel failed to truly recapture the magic of what made its predecessor such a phenomenon.
The plot to “Frozen II” starts with a mysterious voice crying out to Elsa from a far away land. Soon after, a natural disaster forces the residents of Arendelle, Anna and Elsa’s kingdom, to flee their homes. In order to save Arendelle and its people, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven, the reindeer, set out on a quest to seek help from the voice that is calling to Elsa.
Before I go on about why I think “Frozen II” didn’t work, let me just say that I like this movie. The songs are great, it’s pretty funny and the characters are enjoyable. I think it is a perfectly fine and enjoyable animated movie, in which the good far outweighs the bad.
With that being said, “Frozen II” bites off a little more than it can chew.
It feels like this film got too caught up in trying to be bigger and better than the original. It chooses to explore a lot of the backstory around Anna and Elsa’s parents, the city of Arendelle and the origin of Elsa’s ice powers, but it gets too complicated to follow. There are a lot of moving parts in this story and not all of them make sense. Even as I was walking out of the movie, I wasn’t entirely sure what happened or what its significance was.
Complicated stories like this can work, but this film feels messy. All these complex explanations were a bit rushed, and the audience wasn’t given a lot of time to digest them before the movie moved on and started building on them.
Beyond that, “Frozen II” got pretty intense at times. Multiple moments throughout the film, to be honest, would have frightened me a bit as a kid. Because of these moments, I can’t help but feel this movie wasn’t made with children in mind. Instead, its target audience seems to lean toward teenagers and adults of the Disney fandom. This approach to the film creates a bit of a dilemma for families wanting to see the film, because no parent is going to want to tell his or her 6-year-old daughter she can’t go see “Frozen II” because the movie might scare them more than expected.
The biggest flaw with “Frozen II” is difficult to place. The film lacks the same charm as its predecessor. We all know that Disney is coming back to “Frozen” just so they can squeeze more money out of it, but it shouldn’t feel that way. And I hate to say it, but “Frozen II” occasionally gives off that impression.
This may seem like I’m just droning on about the negative aspects of “Frozen II,” and maybe I am, but I genuinely do think this is a good movie. It just isn’t as well-rounded as a lot of people are going to want it to be. I will say though, the one part of the movie that lives up to the first “Frozen” is the music. All of the new songs are incredibly catchy and emotional. A few of the standouts are “All is Found,” “Into the Unknown” and Kristoff’s new song “Lost in the Woods.” “All is Found” and “Into the Unknown” serve as more emotional and story-driven songs, along the same lines of “Let It Go” from the first film, but “Lost in the Woods” is a fun heartthrob song with all the melodrama of a pop tune from the 1970s or 80s.
“Frozen II” is decent. It’s not going to leave the same gigantic impression the first one did, but I can’t imagine anyone actively disliking this movie. With that said, as the first Disney Princess sequel to hit theaters, I think “Frozen II” makes a strong case for why Disney Animation should stick to their usual route of writing new characters and stories rather than producing lesser sequels to their already beloved movies.