Disney is magic. Sometimes you could almost forget that this is a company. Not for long, because the money machine is always around the corner. Still, the firm was able to produce a long list of classics. Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Lion King, you name it.
But since the 2000's, the studio failed to release the same outstanding classics it once had the secret (excluding Pixar's films). Lilo & Stitch is not in the same field as some of the previous films. But two blonde princesses changed that, with first Tangled (2010) and ultimately Frozen, an instant classic from 2013 with an equally classic soundtrack (Let it go, anyone?).
Frozen was such a success that it made more than a billion dollars and became known by virtually everyone.
THE GIRL WITH LIGHT HAIR
Obviously, with characters so iconic and a new world created, why would you not expand it? It would be like falling in love with someone and not wanting to see that person again. But perhaps it would be better like this.
There is a French song called "La Fille aux cheveux clair" (literally the girl with light hair), written by author Philippe Labro and sang by Johnny Hallyday. It goes like this. A man on a journey stops at a train station and meets with a beautiful girl. They fall in love, but one morning, that same man decides to leave her. He doesn't know why he did it. But he did not want to see her face killed by time. He wants to keep the memory of her in his mind, forever.
I believe the same can be said for many films. They should be left untouched, but the desire to see those beloved characters again – as well as getting those beloved dollar bills – is greater than anything. Ergo, we are now six years later. Here is the review of Frozen II, that was just released four days ago.
In many ways, Frozen II feels almost like a sequel, as we spend the entire time focusing on the past. This is highly odd, as the (good) feeling from the first film was to let it go and accept your fate. Here, we actually accept nothing and look back. I don't have anything with this principle, but it is very difficult to excite the audience with a story focused on the past.
A NEVER-ENDING BEGINNING
Which brings me to the beginning of the film. The first part is extremely boring, as everything goes well. The way we meet again our beloved characters is really, really not exciting. Six years have passed, it could have been extremely easy to see them doing their stuff. But they do nothing. They just all live together and do nothing.
Not only this, but Frozen II is highly aware that its predecessor is a classic. There are even real flashbacks of the first film, which, to me, raises a big red flag. Also, Frozen II is so much in love with Frozen that there is even a scene in which Olaf explains to the forest tribe the story of the first film. What's the point? We all saw it already.
A BORING SOUNDTRACK
Very soon, we finally get to listen to the first song of the film. And we can sense already that this isn't the same. Is it bad? Not at all. But the songs are not as iconic, except perhaps "Into the unknown".
"Into the unknown" is actually the feeling I... felt throughout most of the film. I kept seeing in front of my eyes the blank page of the authors. I imagine them scratching their heads. How can we tell a new exciting story with those characters? Where should they go? What should they do? Clearly, we cannot stop thinking that the characters actually did not want to be brought back. So, we force them to live an adventure they don't want to live.
In the first film, Elsa couldn't control her power and was cast away (on her own), until she was brought back by her sister and Kristoff (and Sven and Olaf, obviously). Here, well... Elsa keeps hearing a voice from somewhere, which, for some reason, she's the only one hearing. She decides to follow that voice, which brings her to a mystical forest. Oh, but before that, Arendelle is threatened by some elements going nuts (wind, fire, earth). But before that, there's a flashback with Elsa and Anna's parents. They tell the sisters that there is a tribe in that particular forest and for some reason things ended badly. Back to the present, the sisters and their friends go to that forest. And this is the point where I cannot even continue telling the story, as it goes to so many different ways. Elements are firing up everywhere, new characters are being introduced, the gang is split, you name it. There were actually children in the movie theater and I'm pretty sure they did not understand a single thing. The only moment they laughed were with Olaf doing silly things.
So yes, the story is a mess as gigantic as the giants from the film. And it is not that exciting, because (spoiler alert), I knew right from the start that Elsa would be the... fifth element (are we really doing this?). I also knew right away that the dam would be destroyed at the end. So, instead of doing such an elaborated story that is actually very easy to imagine, I would have much preferred a completely simpler story, such as the one from the first film.
Still, I respect the envy from the writer to go towards the difficult path. But this path deserves many more rewrites in order to accept the story.
I also believe this is a good thing. You could have all the money in the world (Disney is worth 267 billion dollars), all the complex algorithms and the best animators on Earth, you'll still be nothing with the story. The story is the single most important element of any film. Without a story, you cannot do anything. And I believe this is very hopeful.
Frozen II is complex, deeply complex. There are many elements (on top of the five mentioned in the film), new characters, multiple stories with a sole focus on the past and a forgettable soundtrack. It clearly doesn't live up to the expectations. Still, the animation is obviously top notch and it feels good to meet again our beloved characters. For those reasons, I give the film 4 out of 10. Average.
PS: Thanks to my girlfriend, who invited me to see the film!
Anything but cold
By Carry9 on November 24, 2019
The movie could not quite get to the same level as the first one, but this is really hard as it is one of the best Disney's ever. It is however really charming and funny. Everything we look for in a Disney.
The kingdom of Arendelle needs to be evacuated when the forces of nature threaten to destroy it. Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Kristoff set off to find some answers. But Elsa has been distracted. She has been hearing an unfamiliar voice calling out to her in a strange tune. Led by her, the group follows the melody to find themselves at the edge of an Enchanted Forest with untold mysteries and dangers.
Rather than retracing the steps of its record-breaking predecessor, ‘Frozen 2’ tries some new thematic tricks. This time around, the surprisingly mature plot focuses on transformation and growing up. The film’s setup leading up to the climax appears to be promising, but its third act doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The conflict resolution lacks a sense of impact and feels rushed. This is particularly baffling since the first half tends to meander, focusing on songs than on purposefully furthering the plot. Additionally, the tracks are far too many and certainly not as catchy as the first film. Which isn’t to say they are bad – the compositions are layered, but it is yet to be seen if they have enough sing-along power to become as popular as ‘Let It Go’. Still, the picturizations of the music is incredibly captivating.
This extends to the rest of the film’s animation too, and some vibrant colors combine with photo-realistic visuals to create quite a spectacle. Minor details are noticeable as they enhance the essence of each character. While each of the group gets their moments, Elsa and Anna continue to be the focal points. The uncontainable chemistry of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, respectively, picks up where they left off without missing a beat. Olaf provides ample humor, either in visual slapstick or by Josh Gad’s endearing yet tongue-in-cheek, almost self-aware delivery. An interesting new character played by Sterling K. Brown is an immediate standout. However, a subplot involving Kristoff and Anna feels shoed in to give Jonathan Groff something to do besides singing probably the most amusing song in the soundtrack.
It’s a tall order to expect this sequel to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the original, but Frozen 2’s stunning eye-candy and humor will be enjoyable enough for its younger core audience.
While ‘Frozen 2’ isn’t as strong a film as I had hoped it would be, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a disappointment. It’s still incredibly entertaining and I found myself engaged throughout. These films do have an undeniable charm, and outside of the now-completed ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ trilogy, ‘Moana’ and Laika’s ‘Missing Link’, these are the only major American animated films attempting the use the form to create a cinematic experience. It is a pity that the story never finds its feet; a combination of this level of craft and a real ripper of a yarn would have made this a slam-dunk. As it stands though, the magic of the ‘Frozen’ franchise is still there - dimmed, but there nonetheless.
- Daniel Lammin
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As you should know by now, I enjoyed Frozen more than I expected. Therefore, I was genuinely excited about its six-year sequel. It’s one of the few movies in 2019 to which I went in 99% blind. I didn’t watch a single trailer, I barely saw any images or small clips, and I didn’t know anything about where the story was going. So, with my expectations moderately high, how did it perform? Very, very well. I’m going to write it straight away: I enjoy this sequel more than the original. For one simple reason: it possesses a more emotionally complex narrative, one which I think the target audience (basically kids) won’t even fully understand.
It’s really hard to create an animated flick with a story that works for both adults and children. The best of the best are the ones that are able to almost tell two different narratives: one simpler for kids with basic life lessons, and another for adults with more profound themes. Frozen II doesn’t reach this last level, but its layered screenplay allows for an exploration of Elsa’s powers that I genuinely didn’t expect. However, there’s an evident downside to the extreme focus on Elsa’s journey… The other characters are put aside with irrelevant subplots that only stretch the runtime a bit too much, and unfortunately, reach a certain point where out-of-character actions occur.
There’s even a period of time where a particular character simply vanishes from the story because Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck couldn’t figure out what to do with it during the last act. Despite the subplots not being impactful or not being able to further develop its characters, I can’t deny some sequences are entertaining and funny as hell. Olaf is the absolute MVP of the film, and just like in the original, he doesn’t exactly have an arc. Nevertheless, he has one of the most hilarious sequences of the year. I cried from so much laughter. His song and a couple of scenes where Josh Gad goes all out are some of the funniest of the whole movie.
The voice cast is once again perfect. Anna, Kristoff, and Sven are sort of along for the ride, with the trio only doing something useful in the last 15-20 minutes. Elsa is the real star of the show. From the opening shot to the last, it’s all about her, and her powers’ origin. It might get too convoluted for kids, but despite a few minor missteps, it’s an extremely well-developed screenplay. With a remarkable build-up and some truly amazing songs, Elsa goes through several action moments where she showcases all that her magic can do. And it’s visually mind-blowing. Like in the first film, the animation quality is extraordinary.
They really put 200% effort into Elsa’s magic sequences. From her running against a tide of waves to fighting against the four elements (water, fire, earth, and air), there are imaginative and incredibly entertaining scenes, which give the movie a level of entertainment superior to its predecessor. Put this together with the wonderful, powerful score, and you get a pretty epic film, scale-wise. I mean, Into the Unknown is not going to reach Let It Go’s level of worldwide craziness, but it’s a phenomenal song. It’s even better hearing it while watching the actual scene play out. Both this one and Show Yourself have a build-up worthy of sending chills down your spine.
All Is Found is also a memorable lullaby that a lot of parents are going to sing for their kids. When I Am Older is Olaf’s hilarious musical moment that left me laughing throughout its entire run. I love Frozen II’s score, more than the original’s. That’s something I genuinely wasn’t expecting at all. Looking back, I now think the first installment doesn’t even have enough significant songs. This sequel has tons of songs that are either extremely important for the characters or funny parodies. All are very captivating, catchy, and emotionally resonant. My advice: please, don’t listen to the soundtrack before watching the movie. Not only the titles and lyrics offer plot spoilers, but they ruin that “first experience” feeling. I got chills during a couple of them precisely because I watched besides only hearing them.
All in all, Frozen II compensates the six-year wait with a follow-up worthy of standing up to its original, which in my opinion, surpasses it. With an emotionally complex narrative, Elsa’s powers are explored and developed in a captivating, creative, fun, and entertaining way. Disney really put their best animators on this because the quality of animation has never been as visually impressive as this. It really feels like a magical film. Elsa’s magic demonstration plus the powerful, chill-inducing original score are two aspects that together provide some truly epic moments. However, Olaf is the MVP with a lot more screentime than in the original, and with a couple of the most hilarious scenes of the year. It’s a shame that the focus on Elsa’s arc pushed every other character aside, making them feel useless and with no exciting or impactful subplot. Runtime feels a bit stretched due to their side adventures, and exposition is pretty heavy throughout the entire duration. In the end, it’s still a contender for Best Animated Feature Film of 2019.