In Brief: More brain freeze than brain food. None of the magic of the original film.
A better title? Frozen II: The Musical. Half the movie is music. And mostly tuneless music. You get a song. Then it’s blah, blah, blah dialogue for a minute or two and then another song. It leads to a blah, blah, blah exchange of verbiage between characters for another minute or so and then one more dull song.
And on it goes for 1:45.
All that saves this movie and allows me to give it a positive recommendation is the animation. Jennifer Lee — who writes the screenplay — and Chris Buck return to share the directing chores. And it had to be exactly that — a chore.
Not as much of a chore as this clunker is to watch, but a chore nonetheless.
The visuals are the attraction. I caught this in 2D and wished all the way through that the studio had shown it to us in 3D. In that form the effects will be nothing short of spectacular. In many places the two directors do this like you’re watching a play on a Broadway stage.
The way the movie is done is innovative and quite stunning.
At the center of the effects is the music. The songs are provided by husband and wife duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. They wrote all of the music from the 2013 original. What they don’t give you this time around is one of those can’t-get-it-out-of-your-mind songs like the first movie’s Oscar-winning Let it Go.
Just as grating on your senses is what passes for the movie’s plot. As young children Elsa and Anna’s mom and dad told them about a forest filled with indigenous people. They and nature commune in magical ways. The people and leaders of Arendelle built them a dam to hold back the water and benefit all.
At the celebration of the building of the dam, their father — then a boy — got distracted and wanders off and when he looked back a battle had broken out between the villagers and the people of the forest. He is rescued but everyone else disappears when a fog forms and hides the forest away forever.
No one can get in and no one can get out.
Elsa starts hearing a song from the forest. She can’t ignore it and must follow where it leads. And it leads to a decades old mystery. Apparently, she can get into the forest and with her entry, Anna and friends follow.
Anna — meanwhile — has a crisis. She refuses to let Elsa do anything on her own. In her mind they’re a team and must always solve things together. Panic sets in when they don’t.
Everyone is back from the original. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel do the dialogue and singing for Anna and Elsa. The acting from all is up to par. As for the music, Mensel and Bell are amazing singers whose singing skill manages to make intolerable tunes somewhat tolerable. Jonathan Groff gives voice to Kristoff. He’s competent. Josh Gad plays Olaf and provides what passes as the movie’s humor.
The laughs are few and far between, and considering the story is about magic there’s nothing magical in Lee’s screenplay and other than the animation, there isn’t much magic in this sequel.
That leads us back to the story. If you see this and bring your children, expect them to be restless. Especially the very youngest. The more patient older children will do a bit better. Ironically, they’ll likely do better with all that monotonous music and the pathetic plot than their parents and grandparents who’ll see this more as a brain freeze than brain food.
At least my six-year old and four-year old grandchildren did.
Director: Marielle Heller
Stars: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Christine Lahti
Rated PG for mature themes. Frozen II has none of the magic of Frozen. All that saves it from being a total bust is fabulous animation. I was bored. Give this a 3 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.