Sven and Olaf in "Frozen 2".
Trusted reindeer Sven and curious snowman Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) are up for an adventure in "Frozen 2." They join Kristoff, Anna and Elsa on a journey into the unknown in search of answers about the past.

Frozen II (2019) Review

The original Frozen film captured the imagination with quirky and interesting characters, a charming world full of magic and lore, and catchy songs that would be belted out with gusto from tiny mouths in countless backseats around the world. All of that is missing in Frozen II. Nevertheless, this sequel is entertaining in its own right; it just doesn’t live up to expectations.

Plot Summary

As children, Anna (voiced by Hadley Gannaway) and Elsa (voiced by Mattea Conforti), were told a story by their father about an enchanted forest where a tribe of people known as the Northuldra lived. The Arendellians coexisted with them peacefully until war broke out unexpectedly one day. Only Anna and Elsa’s father escaped the skirmish before the enchanted forest sealed itself and everyone inside away from the rest of the world behind a magical and impenetrable fog.

As adults, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), adjust to their now mundane lives. However, Elsa can’t ignore a voice on the wind that calls to her randomly but constantly. She decides to follow it, and her sister and friends, including Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), follow Elsa. Together, they discover new lands, new friends, and an old family history that will surprise them all.

Young Anna and Elsa listen to an epic story.
EPIC STORY – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2”, Queen Iduna (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) and King Agnarr (voice of Alfred Molina) share an epic story with Young Anna (voice of Hadley Gannaway) and Young Elsa (voice Mattea Conforti) about an enchanted forest and the potential danger that lingers.

Considerations

Frozen II’s plot is incomprehensible, but that doesn’t matter when the film is taken as a whole. Why Elsa is only hearing the call now or why she has the power to penetrate the fog of the enchanted forest is never explained. Other phenomena – like elemental powers coming out of nowhere to push the Arendellians out of their home – are only partially explained. And that partial explanation doesn’t make sense in retrospect. A major character also goes through a significant change, but there’s no setup for the change, and there’s no expectation for the transformation either, so when it happens it’s difficult to know how to feel. Still, with such loveable characters getting into hijinks, facing struggles, and overcoming obstacles, the unanswered questions don’t really matter.

It is odd, however, that the film explores a whole new lore with the addition of the enchanted forest instead of developing existing lore further, like the Trolls as an example. Instead, audiences are forced to learn about the Northuldra and the four natural elements that govern the forest. But those elements aren’t always simply elements as everyone knows them. Sometimes they’re living creatures, like a lizard. Other times, like in the case of water, it’s half living and half elemental as it manifests itself in the form of a horse. Why does it have shape? And why a horse? Audiences will never know, and it’s not important to know ultimately.

What it lacks in coherence, the film makes up for in stunning visuals. The aforementioned water horse has a mane made of water that drips like a fountain. It’s breathtaking character design. And when Elsa does anything with her ice powers, it’s beautiful to behold and are some of the film’s best set pieces.

The songs, however, are forgettable, which is probably due to the story that’s hard to connect with emotionally. Fortunately, there are two numbers that stand out. The first is Olaf’s “When I’m Older”, which is cute in its ironic self-awareness. The second is Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods”, but the song itself isn’t what makes it memorable, but rather the visual presentation of the performance that only adults of a certain age will appreciate. While none of the songs are catchy, that fact will probably be appreciated by parents of young children on long drives.

Friends and family in "Frozen 2".
Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven venture into the unknown in “Frozen 2”.

Final Thoughts

Despite all of the ways that Frozen II falls short of being a satisfying sequel to Frozen, the film is still entertaining, beautiful, and extremely well-crafted. It just feels like a property unto itself. If this had been a brand-new world with its own characters and lore, then there would be no expectations to live up to. Regrettably, the bar is set and Frozen II doesn’t measure up.

Also Consider
Saving Atlantis (2019) - A researcher studies coral.
Saving Atlantis (2019) Review