Film review: ‘FROZEN 2’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Frozen has become a cinema icon, the most successful animated film of all time and sure to be a pop-cultural touchstone for today’s youngsters to enthuse about with both irony and nostalgia in fast food car parks in years to come. Not surprisingly, it’s sequel Frozen 2 is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Despite some impressive moments, this tonally inconsistent and at times befuddling film doesn’t capture the original’s magic.

Frozen 2 seems to have been constructed by a committee as it awkwardly jumps from Tolkienesque fantasy, to young adult romance, to female empowerment fable, to quirky child-friendly comedy. Unlike the first film, which cleverly intertwined visual pyrotechnics, music and character development in its moving tale of self-discovery, this film meanders about thematically, never gaining the necessary momentum or giving its story a centre.

Here, the first film’s heroines, sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and the magical ice queen Elsa (Idina Mensel), have settled into a relatively comfortable life in a palatial share house arrangement with former woodsman and Shane Watson lookalike Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and their comedy relief snowman buddy Olaf (Josh Gad) in the idealised Nordic kingdom of Arendelle. A mysterious siren song that wafts across the land, however, lures the group into an enchanted forest where a curse seems to have caused its creatures to flee and where a battle looms between two rival groups. It’s up to Anna and Elena to unravel the mysterious forest’s secrets, something that will provide shocking revelations about their family.

The story, is unfortunately a bit of a mess requiring characters to constantly attempt to explain what’s going on; one of the musical set-pieces is actually Olaf unloading a plot summary on the audience. With such an unfocused plot it’s hard to connect with the characters and none of them have the emotional punch they did in the first film although Olaf’s antics had the littlies in the audience shrieking with laughter.

The film, like its predecessor still impresses on a technical level with some stunning animation that conjures a vivid and remarkably realistic fantasy world even if the people look like rubbery figures. Although it screens in 2D, directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck and the special effects crew have imbued the film with a visual depth that almost looks three-dimensional. Whether the elaborate visuals are enough to hold the youngsters’ attention is debatable, though, as there were kiddie conversations breaking out all over the preview screening.

Essential to the first Frozen film were the songs and while the contributors here include artists of the calibre of Weezer, the tunes are mostly middling Disney power ballads; in fact Kristoff’s big showpiece tune sounds like an REO Speedwagon b-side.

It was probably inevitable that expectations for the sequel to such a successful film would be too high but something seems to have gone amiss here. Frozen 2 is by no means a dud but it will leave some fans scratching their heads.

Nick’s rating: **1/2

Genre: Animated fantasy.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck

Release date: 28th Nov 2019.

Running time: 103 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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