Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writers: Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by), Chris Buck (story by), Kristen Anderson-Lopez (story by), Robert Lopez (story by), Marc Smith (story by)
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad
Runtime: 103 mins
MPAA Rating: PG
The sequel to the most overrated Disney film in recent memory has finally arrived (Tangled > Frozen is a hill I will die on). The same writers/directors (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee) and songwriters (Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) are back to rekindle the icy magic that warmed people’s hearts during the holiday season of 2013. And that is exactly what you get: more of the same…but worse.
Let me start off positive and say that I do quite like the visual presentation as Disney is without a doubt at the top of the 3D animation game. The autumnal color palette and bits of seasonal flair are beautiful and make this entry’s environmental backdrop distinct from the first film. Every bit of detail enhances the visual grandeur and is largely what kept me interested because this story is a C-rate plot that feels like it was written by six-year-olds rather than being written for six-year-olds. Elsa (Idina Menzel) hears a mysterious voice singing to her in the distance and gets super spacy. Anna (Kristen Bell) wants her sister to not shut her out and instead play games with Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven (the reindeer dog), and her. It turns out they have to go enter an enchanted forest and deal with spirits so that they can save the kingdom and learn the truth about their parents.
I was on board with the plot while it was playing out as this Annihilation-esque mystery adventure, but once the gang goes inside the forest, you quickly realize there is no real story. From that point on, the movie is just storyboard ideas strung together between lackluster musical numbers. Because the main characters are so mind-numbingly boring, the writers have to pad out the runtime by simply throwing stuff on the screen: “fire creature”, “rock monsters”, “sentient wind”, etc. There is just nothing interesting about any of these characters: they do not change and do not face meaningful conflict. In the first movie, Elsa and Anna must confront internal and external issues and mature which made the characters mildly engaging even though the plot execution is largely uninteresting. In an attempt to make this story intriguing, they throw in some “mystery” surrounding Elsa and Anna’s parents and this old tribe in the magical forest that is extremely obvious to any adult but will probably be shocking for a child. Meanwhile, the writers have nothing for Kristoff and Sven to do, but they write them a bizarre musical number out of pity. The kid-friendly humor is all predictable but, thankfully, never gets too obnoxious. The music is a major step down from the previous movie as there are no memorable numbers. Finally, the main message this movie seems to be verbally communicating is something along the lines of Elsa and Anna being better together as sisters, but everything they do to succeed in the end is done solo. It is all really lame.
This entire effort felt entirely phoned in from a narrative and musical perspective. Take the kids to this one if they are enamored with familiar character designs and like the pretty animation and forgettable musical numbers. Most young children will probably enjoy it. Unfortunately, I am not a child and do not grade children’s films on a curve. As a marginally better alternative, I would suggest you show your kids How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World if you have to choose a 2019 animated fantasy film…but do what you want.
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