Frozen 2 voice cast: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Frozen 2 movie director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Frozen 2 movie rating: 2.5 stars
Six years seem like yesterday. For when Elsa, Anna and Frozen belted, literally, onto the screen in 2013, they upturned a lot of ideas: about Disney studio, princesses, songs, and especially “true love”. Elsa and Anna were two sisters who save their world all on their own, shedding a handsome prince along the way, and acquiring new friends (of whom one, true to a Disney film, is a loveable animal).
What could Elsa and Anna do that would surpass that? Clearly, directors Buck and Lee, back for the sequel (like its cast of voices), are as confused. Frozen II packs a conservation message with dollops of wonky mythology, flashbacks which eerily manifest as literally frozen thoughts, and ‘spirits’ that swirl up some real neat tricks, without coming anywhere close to real magic. And while magic seemed so tangible in Frozen, here the effort shows as the film drags on.
It’s several years down the line from when Anna (Bell) brought Elsa (Menzel) back to the palace, and it’s all song-and-dance now in their kingdom Arendelle. But then Elsa starts hearing a mysterious haunting voice calling out to her from the unknown. By now, we know about an Enchanted Forest, where spirits dwell, which is caught in a spell, which houses some sort of a Red Indian-like tribe, and which has had a big, big dam brought to its doorstep by a King (who was Anna and Elsa’s grandfather). Experience teaches us that dam, jungle and forest-dwellers in the same sentence is never ever good news, especially in well-meaning, polished-to-political-correction films like Disney aspires to.
Still, saddled with a President in the White House who could do with some climate change lessons in easy-to-digest dollops, Frozen II could have been a strong film about powers and dealing with them responsibly — a natural corollary to Elsa’s discovery of hers the first time round.
Instead, Frozen II veers off to a confusing side story, which it clearly believes is heading to a big reveal — you may catch on half-way. It doesn’t help that one keeps expecting a “Let It Go” and the film doesn’t come even close to that iconic song, which appealed across ages, genders, and sexual preferences — speaking differently to different people.
Still, with its central theme of “water that has memory” and ice that is solid — plus other elements you suspect may be headed for a meatier role if there is a third film — Frozen II often stills you with its beauty. Olaf (Gad) has the film’s best lines, Kristof (Groff) generates good laughs even in those well-tried scenes of a suitor working up courage for a wedding proposal, and Elsa and Anna’s bond, still very strong, takes a new, interesting direction.
The sight of Elsa riding a horse made of ice, over a surging sea, is one of those truly cinematic moments. This Princess remains gloriously single, and as unafraid of taking the leap into the unknown. In perhaps the film’s best line, she notes that rather than anything else, it’s fear that can’t be trusted.
And yet, it’s Frozen II that is bit of a snowflake.