Frozen really didn’t need a sequel, but $1.2 billion at the box office (and arguably the defining Disney anthem of a generation) meant we were pretty much guaranteed to get one. Frozen II can’t quite recapture the lightning its predecessor managed to bottle, but it’s still an entertaining ride that goes to some interesting places.
Songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez return with another set of Broadway-ready tunes, and while none of them are as instantly iconic as that song, they’re elevated by the impressive vocals of the cast and some surprising visual flair. Idina Menzel belts out not one but two empowerment anthems, the ever-charming Josh Gad’s charming snowman Olaf puts the ‘This is Fine’ meme to music, and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) gets a proper ’80s power ballad complete with cheesy cross-fades.
Still, for all Elsa’s talk of wanting to head ‘Into the Unknown’, the film itself seems reluctant to stray too far from the path. There’s some subtext about postcolonial guilt that stops just shy of actually saying anything interesting, and while it’s nice to spend more time with these characters, the lack of a real villain to conquer means the resolution can’t help but feel anticlimactic. It’s also sad, though probably not that surprising, that Disney can’t find the courage to lean into readings of Elsa as a queer character, despite making more than a few nudges and winks to that effect.
While it’s interesting to see a Disney sequel borrow parts of its plot from The Fifth Element, of all things, Frozen II ultimately doesn’t go anywhere we don’t expect it to. Let’s hope that the inevitable Part III is willing to take a few more risks.
CAST: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K Brown, Evan Rachel Wood
DIRECTORS: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
WRITER: Jennifer Lee
SYNOPSIS: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.