Frozen 2 is one of 2019's most anticipated releases, but the Disney movie has divided critics. In 2013, Frozen burst onto the scene offering pretty much the perfect Disney movie. Strong characters that very quickly became fan favorites were coupled with outstanding music and a plot that centered on the power of sisterhood. Frozen grossed over $1 billion at the box office, and it was impossible to escape the Frozen merchandise that seemed to be everywhere.
It was little surprise that a sequel (along with a Broadway show) was ordered, and Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee returned to direct and write Frozen 2, with new songs from Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez. Frozen 2 is a more mature story than its predecessor, with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven embarking on a magical journey to an enchanted forest in an attempt to discover the origins of Elsa's magic powers.
While the movie will undoubtedly be a box office success, critics seem divided on whether Frozen 2 is the perfect sequel, or whether it really is time to let this franchise go. Frozen 2 is currently certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at 77%, but by contrast, Frozen sits at 90%. Most reviews of Frozen 2 agree that it can't capture the magic of the first, but many have found plenty of positives.
It’s never surprising, yet its bursts of pictorial imagination — snowflakes that streak like shooting stars — keep you engaged, as do Elsa and Anna, who still aren’t waiting for life to happen. They’re searching, not settled, both active and reactive, which even today makes them female-character outliers on the big screen.
Visually stunning and full of catchy new songs, Frozen II is a worthy addition to the Disney library. However, while it is not necessarily better than its predecessor, Frozen II still has a lot to offer both children and adults alike, especially with a voice cast as charismatic as the one we are lucky enough to have in Frozen II.
Frozen 2 checks all of the boxes of being a good movie. Stepping outside of my own adult self, I am capable of seeing how it’s going to appeal to children and family audiences as fun, funny, familiar escapism. And there’s no shame in not being as great as the first film, since every new film can’t always be better than the last one.
Frozen 2 will melt your eyeballs with incredible animation. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck deserve a golf clap for raising their visual effects game. Elsa battles the elements over the course of the film. She tames the water spirit, visualized as a horse, in order to ride across the Dark Sea. A little girl sitting beside me almost fell out of her seat from awe leaning forward.
One of the main highlights that critics have raised in their Frozen 2 reviews is the quality of the animation. Advances in technology since 2013 have allowed animators to go all out on Frozen 2, and it shows. Another major highlight for some is the quality of the music, including a welcome number from Broadway star Jonathan Groff as Kristoff. Many have also pointed out how strong the characters are, with Disney painting a strong picture of Elsa as a powerful woman who still has many insecurities to overcome. This can only be reassuring to Frozen 2's target young audience; a powerful lesson of overcoming your own issues to find your true self. However, while Frozen 2 definitely has plenty to recommend it, and young children will adore it, many critics pointed out flaws that they couldn't overlook. Here's the opinions of those who were less than impressed.
The problem is that, while the visuals sometimes have stunning beauty and motion, there is little on screen or in the soundtrack that feels truly unknown, or carries any of the freshness of the snow that covers Elsa’s kingdom.
Frozen II starts off on shaky ground, largely because it backtracks on much of the character development Anna and Elsa went though in the first movie. At the end of Frozen, Elsa had learned that her powers were a gift, not a burden, and she had become confident and proud in using them. At the beginning of Frozen II, that confidence is gone. She has an air of timidity that doesn’t make sense, given how we last saw her.
Frozen II is a letdown when compared with the original. But it’s also a lackluster disappointment on its own — a pale shadow of what it could have been.
It’s easier to think about Frozen II as a product than as a film because a (sometimes stunning-looking) product is all that it feels like. It was directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, the team behind the first film, from a script that Lee wrote, and that never really pretends that it exists because the story, rather than the market, demanded more.
The film comes from a tradition that has spawned both incredible classics of animated artistry and overtly calculating entertainments, and it happens to skew more toward the latter. It’s carefully modulated to reach the widest possible audience while offering just enough for the adults in the room to shrug and think, Hey, at least these are strong female characters, right?
Where its predecessor had moments of surprising, almost alarming emotional depth, the new movie skims along the surface, putting its heroes in physical peril but never endangering their hearts.
Frozen 2 doesn’t have its forebear’s ungainliness; in many ways, it’s more efficiently engineered. But it’s also far less surprising, even taking into account that a sequel’s first task is to give people what they expect. Frozen was built around an anthem to letting your emotions take control because no matter how flawed the results might be, it was preferable to sterile perfection. Maybe the people who made the new movie should watch it again.
The lack of a villain in Frozen 2 is an issue for many. While the focus remains on sisterhood, which is admirable, the lack of a 'baddie,' such as Hans in the original, leaves Frozen 2's storyline lacking in drama. A highlight of Frozen was its music, but Frozen 2 has so many songs that this comes at detriment to the plot, leaving it choppy and clunky as Buck and Lee try to give each character their own arc. In short, while Frozen 2 undoubtedly has its flaws, if you're looking for a way to keep children entertained over the upcoming holidays, it's well worth watching. Younger audience members aren't going to be so fussed about plot and far more delighted to know that Frozen 2 features Olaf very heavily.