(2019) (voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell) (PG)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Musical: A magical queen and her princess sister travel into a secluded enchanted forest in hopes of solving a current situation endangering their kingdom as well as solving the mystery of what happened to their late parents years ago.
- Following the events of the previous film, sisters Elsa (voice of IDINA MENZEL) and Anna (voice of KRISTEN BELL) are closer than ever, what with the reason for their previously strained relationship -- Elsa's hidden-away magical powers of being able to control ice and snow -- now out in the open and resolved.
But things aren't completely settled for Queen Elsa who keeps hearing a far-off, siren-like call seemingly intended for her. Anna doesn't hear it, nor does her boyfriend, former ice harvester Kristoff (voice of JONATHAN GROFF) who's trying to get up the courage to ask for her hand in matrimony but keeps bumbling every attempt, much to the dismay of his trusty, non-verbal reindeer, Sven. And sentient snowman Olaf (voice of JOSH GAD) continues to be, well, just happy and goofy old Olaf.
When increasing winds and the undulating ground force everyone to flee the kingdom of Arendelle, Elsa decides she must enter an enchanted forest her late father told her about back when she and Anna were just children. She, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf ends up at the mist-enveloped forest where no one has entered or left for decades.
That's due to the air, fire, water and earth spirits that reside there and which weren't pleased with the sisters' grandfather and his military men, including Lieutenant Destin Mattias (voice of STERLING K. BROWN), who ended up battling the magical Northuldra people who lived there.
While contending with those trapped inside -- including a number of supernatural beings and monsters -- Elsa and Anna try to find the solution to save their kingdom and figure out what happened to their late parents years ago, the answer of which might lie in the mythical land of Ahtohallan.
- OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
- There's a definite discrepancy between how parents and their kids view most animated movies. While they both usually enjoy most such flicks when they first see them, that level of enjoyment often takes divergent paths as the number of repeated viewings continues to increase.
Kids can watch the same thing over and over (and over and over) again and still be just as entertained the 387th time as they were with the first. For them, it's cinematic comfort food. For most parents, once the replay count gets into the double digits, what was once fun can sometimes become tiresome and irritating to the point that they silently exclaim to themselves "Let it go!"
That would certainly seem to likely be the case with "Frozen," Disney's 2013 offering that won over kids and their parents alike and featured a number of memorable songs, including Adele Dazeem's power ballad named after those parental exclamations that all involved, not to mention Ron Ravolta (a.k.a. Vinnie Barbarino), knew would be coming with repeated viewings.
I'm wondering if returning writer/director Jennifer Lee and co-director Chris Buck sensed that replay fatigue when making "Frozen II." For while it continues the tale of Arendelle's most famous siblings -- Elsa and Anna -- along with their sidekicks of Kristoff, Sven and Olaf and includes more Broadway-caliber songs, it feels like a decidedly different, if still familiar, tale than its predecessor.
That's both good and, well, not necessarily bad, but let's just say not great. It's good that the filmmakers didn't simply regurgitate the material from the first like some sequels are prone to do. The not great response, however, stems from the fact that it's not as excellent as the original film.
Its plot is somewhat scattershot and the vast majority of the conflict is internal rather than external (notwithstanding some huge rock monsters that operate from that old "Lost in Space" mindset of "crush...kill...destroy"). Most of the songs (with an exception or two) don't equal what we heard the first time around, and a number of new characters are introduced and then don't really amount to much.
With everything resolved from the plot of the first film, Elsa (voiced by Adele Daz..uh..Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) seem set to live out their lives happily ever after in the kingdom of Arendelle, what with the former having accepted her magical powers and the latter having an attentive boyfriend in Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), even if he can't find the right courage, time or method to ask for her hand in holy matrimony, much to the chagrin of his trusty if non-verbal reindeer, Sven. Even Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) seems content.
But then a melodic siren call from afar repeatedly hits Elsa's and only Elsa's ears. And after supernatural powers chase everyone out of the kingdom and a troll leader informs the queen that the past isn't always what it seems, Elsa decides to seek out an enchanted forest her late father once spoke of, and that holds a number of secrets related to both her and the kingdom.
It's certainly a more thematically mature offering than its predecessor, but I didn't find it as rapturously enthralling. That said, it's still worth seeing, with terrific vocal work from the returning cast, some amazing visuals, decent comedic relief (mostly from Gad's snowman, but there's also an over-the-top, '80s style power ballad that's a hoot) and some good songs (most notably "Into the Unknown," "Some Things Never Change" and "When I Am Older").
Will kids enjoy it both with the first and then umpteenth viewing? Undoubtedly. Will parents eventually tire of it thanks to seemingly endless repeats? Probably. But that's the nature of such musical animated films and while "Frozen II" might not reach the bar set by the original flick, it's still good enough to warrant a 6 out of 10 rating.
Reviewed November 18, 2019 / Posted November 22, 2019
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