I realize that in this review I may come off as an angry film geek just ranting about something popular that's made for children, but I do believe I have the ability to look at any given movie and judge it on its own merit. And while I might not be a fan of Frozen — in fact I don't think it's good at all — I do love cartoons and appreciate animation as an art form.
My two favorite movies of last year where Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: In to the Spider-verse. And two of my favorite movies of this year are Toy Story 4 and Missing Link. So, clearly, I have no problem loving things that are part of a franchise made by Disney. That said, Frozen 2 is an absolute mess.
But, I'm a positive guy, so let's start with what this movie does well. There's a lot about this movie that is irrefutably good. For one, the use of color in this film is outstanding. From what I remember, the first movie is fairly monochromatic or maybe whatever the word for two colors is. The first movie is mostly a lot of white and shades of blue, but this movie — because it takes place in the fall in a forest — has a great variety of colors that really pop. Plus, there's a lot of contrast between bright colorful characters and dark, foreboding environments.
I might not care about a lot of things happening in this movie but it was fun to look at because of the colors and costumes.Costumes are not something I think a lot about with animated films because wardrobe takes a lot of intention and effort in live action films. Watching this I realized that a lot of thought still has to go into the animation design with replicating textures, weight and movement. The costumes also do a lot to make the characters memorable and reflect their personalities.
Speaking of characters, in spite of my lack of investment in their story or problems, there are a few key moments where I got chills because the movie was so emotionally on point. Elsa has a scene that I feel trumps anything from the first film in which she has a connection to the past. Also, Anna's final lesson is really cool because of its nuance and effectively builds on the first film — which is exactly what a good sequel should do.
Now, with all of that positivity out of the way, everything else I haven't talked about I dislike to hate. I am not one for musicals, but I can totally enjoy a good movie that is also a musical. Yet, every single time the characters started to sing, I immediately wished that they were not. I do not feel any song contributed to the story or the character development. They just kind of show up and are only meant for entertainment, but the songs are stopping the story from doing anything. Of course, the one bright side here is that all the actors are great singers, so I can certainly appreciate the technique that goes into the songs.
As I mentioned earlier, I just couldn't care about the story of this movie. The movie started to pull me in late but did the the absolute worst things films do in that it introduces a really cool, complex concept and then completely backs down from it at the last second, thus leaving the movie without any real purpose for any of the conflict. The movie presents a character with a very difficult choice where both decisions are understandable for the character but both will also have negative ramifications.
You know which choice this character is going to make, and that decision is going to have serious consequences both in the movie's world and for the sub-textual meaning. And Hollywood filmmakers so rarely give a character a morally gray decision that has legitimate drawbacks. And then at the last second — before any consequences are suffered — something happens that makes everything okay, which I feel undermines the entire film and makes it hollow.
One last thing before I go, this movie references the first one far too often. Based off the trailers that show a mature adventure film, I never thought that it would be so laden down with direct call outs to the predecessor. I was wrong, because there are many direct call backs. In one sequence, Olaf just recaps the first movie, and then there are flashbacks that cover multiple scenes from Frozen. This is yet another immersion-breaking element does not contribute to the story or the characters only serves as fan service.
And there are just too many things in this movie that you could cut out and get the same result. I feel that the songs, the callbacks and the entirety of Olaf as a character could be cut out and you'd have the exact same story. And that is all probably over half the film. So when over half your film is completely disposable, what exactly have you made?
Bring all this together and Frozen 2 is one thing it shouldn't be: mostly disposable. I don't even find most of the movie bad, it's just kind of useless and meandering. But the other half is sprinkled with elements that I enjoyed, including the beautiful animation, coloring, costumes and some character moments. But a story that goes nowhere combined with a lot of filler means it's just another animated sequel that had a ton of potential that's, unfortunately, squandered. I saw this movie with two geeks who are head-over-heels for Frozen and totally love this movie. So, if you're a Frozen or a Disney fan, you'll probably love this. But if you are looking for something that will surprise you — which was kind of promised by the trailers — you're going to be sorely disappointed, but there are things to appreciate about it. I know that this is kind of a wishy-washy conclusion, but this is kind of a wishy-washy movie. Feel free to @ me.