Review: “Frozen 2” is a Darker, More Complex Film than Original

Hi everyone!

I posted an article about the Frozen 2 press conference we sent our reporter to in Hollywood, and now I’ve seen the movie myself as well. To preface the review, we went to a media preview of the original Frozen and I was sure upon seeing it that it would be a huge success. I thought it was a fantastic film with compelling characters and music that was easy to recall after one viewing. We had interviewed Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Kristin Bell just months earlier at the D23 Expo, and it was exciting to see the film open to such acclaim. Fast forward six years to 2019, and Frozen 2 will open on Friday, November 22nd. My thoughts on the new movie are decidedly mixed, and I’ll give a non-spoiler review below.

A blurb about Frozen 2 from Disney: Why was Elsa born with magical powers? What truths about the past await Elsa as she ventures into the unknown to the enchanted forests and dark seas beyond Arendelle? The answers are calling her but also threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll face a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough.

When the film begins, it feels somewhat similar to the original movie – we see young Anna and Elsa with their parents, who figure into this movie more than the first. And then we roll into a scene that has been shown in the Disney parks 10-minute preview, with Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) playing charades – where Elsa hears a call of sorts, that she follows into the song “Into the Unknown”, which reminds me so much of Jasmine’s song “Speechless” in the live-action Aladdin. Both are empowerment songs, set on a balcony with an intensity that is unmatched through the rest of the songs in each film.

Frozen 2 is a much darker journey than the original film. Where Olaf was fun but almost a little too much for me in the original film, he is necessary comic relief to a movie that brings up death and dying more than I expected. The film runs a gamut of emotions, some of it sad at times. When Olaf isn’t there, I don’t feel the film balances as well. And Kristoff also has some lighthearted, laugh-out-loud moments, including one song that feels off in tone from the movie called “Lost in the Woods” – and while it doesn’t feel like it belongs in this movie, it is still a fun addition. I almost forgot to mention Bruni the salamander as well. He is adorable, reminds me of Pascal from Tangled but has a minimal amount of screen time.

What personally resonated the most for me in Frozen 2 was Olaf realizing that nothing is permanent. It is something that he says a number of times, and it is something that I say quite a bit at this stage in my life. I just consider everything to be temporary – maybe long-term temporary, but temporary none the less.

Frozen 2 isn’t a movie I’m going to rush back to the theater to see. Our reporter used the word “complicated” to describe it, and certainly “complex” fits well. Those are accurate terms for me. And while the original movie spanned a wide age range as Disney films tend to do, it feels like the filmmakers are aiming a little older – to the kids who loved the first movie and now may be teens or young adults. Young children may find it a little scary, a little dark, and I found the movie a little plodding at times (and a little trippy at other times). The music is nowhere near as memorable as the original film, and I honestly didn’t fully understand the story. Eventually I will see it again and maybe it will click a little more.

Frozen 2 doesn’t feel – to me – like a film that could stand on its own if the characters didn’t exist before. But it isn’t a bad movie either – fortunately we know these characters and care about them. I feel the movie works best when it is grounded in reality – as real as can be when you have a talking snowman and a reindeer. For example, the charades scene is lovely and warm. And the movement in the relationship between Kristoff and Anna seems real as do the feelings of the characters and the journey Olaf has as he tries to figure life out. But it is a very different movie than the first and it will be interesting to see what the general audience reaction is. Additionally, the film is often beautiful in the animation – with rich orange hues balancing out the darkness.

Mousesteps grade for Frozen 2: B-