Quick Hit: A sequel that unfortunately feels strangely aimless.
In 2013, the world was shook to its very core but the release of an animated movie that quickly blew apart all kinds of animated financial records. I’m talking about, of course, the release of Frozen, whose catchy earbuds and sisterly story brought parents and children to their knees. A sequel to it was all but guaranteed due to the success of the film. The success of sequels and franchises, from Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon over at Dreamworks, and the huge string of Pixar sequels, meant that Disney could no longer throw a few dollars at a sequel and release it direct to video. Alas, the money and the writing couldn’t take this sequel much higher than those, but it did manage to land it in a category where it feels like a pointless money grab.
We pick up the story of Olaf, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and of course, Sven 3 years after Elsa’s reign begun. For the most part, life is good, though Olaf and Anna assure us that change is coming (through song of course). We also get an extended flashback to Elsa and Anna as young girl’s being told the story of how their father came to rule Arendelle, which is coupled with a song from their mother. Aside from this being terribly sad, to see their parents and the lives they could have lived, it’s an important cornerstone in the story. Namely, the fact that there are magical elements that help to control the world.
Now, stay with me here, just for a second, because I may sound a bit cynical here. Disney is no stranger to introducing elements to a story that may be a little bit…whimsical, rather than intrinsic to the plot. But there are moments here where it almost feels like Disney is throwing things together to see what makes some fun visual effects (the water element is stunning) rather than what makes a good story. I also feel like the music followed this queue. The songs all seem to be aping their greater counterparts from the previous movie. Into the Unknown is Elsa’s/Idina Menzel’s chance to belt it out (aka Let It Go). There’s a fun, quick musical number song by Anna and someone else (aka Love is an Open Door). Olaf even gets his own solo song again (In Summer). And so when a song comes along that’s different – Kristoff/Jonathan Groff has a chance to do a song that is 80s hair band themed all the way – it feels kind of lost.
I feel the same way about the story overall – it feels a bit like they just took the story from the first one, twisted it, shrugged their shoulders, and were like “Sounds good to me”. For instance, last time, we have a conflict between the sisters. This time, surprise, the sisters are in conflict again throughout the story. First on whether or not Anna should be a part of the journey, then on what Anna should do. Elsa is still the main source of “conflict”, it’s just in a different way. And the love story between Kristoff and Anna still feels a bit like the writers looked at each other, said “Well, we really don’t have any other characters, unless we want her to fall in love with the snowman”, briefly considered Olaf the romantic interest, and decided to go with the guy with a reindeer obsession instead.
Speaking of Olaf, hands down the best returning character. Josh Gad still manages to bring heart to the character, and the animators have fun with his ability to change the orientation (which they did in the original trailer for Frozen). He also has a rare moment where Disney pokes fun at their own story, where he gives a recap of the entire first movie. It’s quite hilarious.
Overall, I don’t think people will hate this movie, but it really wasn’t for me. I find myself returning to pieces of the soundtrack, but they are never from the actual movie. Panic! At the Disco’s cover of Into the Unknown will go down amongst some of the best covers for me. But this won’t go down amongst the best sequels. I’m giving it a “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
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