Frozen II (***1/2) Dam for no reason

Frozen II – 2019

Directors Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Screenplay Jennifer Lee
Starring Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

There’s nothing one can say in a review of Frozen II that will stop the avalanche of people heading to see it over the Winter of 2019-2020. It borders on a more interesting plot, then takes a left turn. The music would almost be on par if it weren’t for one ridiculous song for Groff’s Kristoff that would fit in the them of Awkward Family Photos. The animation is as incredible as anything in the first film, but still well short of Disney high water mark Tangled. Overall, it’s the sequel that everybody asked for but should be leary of.

Something’s calling Elsa (Menzel), and she thinks it is a link to the past. Of course she can’t go looking for the sound without her sister, Elsa (Bell), Elsa’s true love Kristoff, Olaf the snowman and Kristoff’s reindeer, Sven. After their home is affected by mysterious forces and the citizens are forced to the hills. A meeting with the Trolls leads Elsa to the conclusion she must follow the voice only she hears to set things right.

Along the way they come across a forest with a magical border that is penetrated with Elsa’s touch. Invariably they discover a tribe of lost people, some of which are guards of their kingdom not seen for years.

The journey doesn’t stop there, of course. It is here where the two sisters depart from the group and then from each other. They find the answers of course, and in the process discover something about their past that most people would not want to know.

Key to this discovery is a dam, built the the command of the girls’ grandfather. The purpose of the dam is first revealed as a gift, then later as a show of power. Never do we hear any discussion of the true purpose of a dam. They are numerous but irrelevant when the script authors are trying to show the folly of the powerful over the natives. Anyone with a 10th grade education will see the correlation that is being drawn. The narrative would be powerful enough on its own, if they’d only come up with a more logical reason for one to be disappointed with their ancestor. It’s a lazy kind of preaching that is shallow and manipulative.

The story has many threads that would be interesting if they had been given a little more room to breathe. The end result is less satisfying because of this. Olaf is the best thing, character-wise. His obsession with his internal growth is amusing in a way that other speaking characters are not. This goes double for characters spoken for by someone else. There is one adorable new character that doesn’t speak.

The songs are not bad. Thankfully there’s nothing that will reach the heights of “Let It Go” Goff’s “Lost In The Woods.” elicited nothing but laughs in the showing I attended. If I thought that it was the intention of the filmmakers, it might not feel like a waste of five minutes.

Overall, Frozen II is not an embarrassment. It will make a bunch of cash and might even get a third installment. I would be happy with another episode of Tangled. But then, they got it right the first time, so no need to risk it.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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