I didn’t walk into the theater with many expectations, but Frozen II still managed to disappoint me- here’s why.
Virtually every reason why I didn’t enjoy this movie comes down to the very simple fact that it is a sequel. First, and foremost, I didn’t think Frozen needed a sequel. It was a perfectly fine standalone Disney Princess film with a fair conclusion. That should have been it. I generally have a distaste for the movie industry and consistently rehashing the same ideas over and over again through sequels. Sequels are quite frankly, lazy: they’re honestly just a surefire cash-grab banking off of the success of the original film, and ultimately fall short of their predecessors.
A side note- I won’t consider the visual quality of this film at all. It’s Disney, of course, it’s going to be good. I expect that out of a multibillion-dollar corporation’s animation studio.
With that aside, come explore the not-so-magical world of Frozen II. Major spoilers ahead!
Let’s begin with the basic premise of the film. Remember Arendelle? This wonderful kingdom with a new sovereign queen as established in the last film? Well, it just so turns out that there’s another civilization nearby across the treacherous Enchanted Forest. As to why this place has literally never been referenced before in this world: well, it’s a sequel! They have to make a new plotline somehow. How did Disney decide to introduce this tribe in a manner that it feels interconnected and fitting in this universe? By starting the movie with a flashback.
King Agnarr (Anna and Elsa’s father) has been to this new location, the tribe of Northuldra. Essentially, Agnarr’s father, Runeard, made a treaty with this tribe a long time ago and built a dam bridge to connect the two civilizations. They’re all friends! Until they’re not! The two groups start fighting for no apparent reason. This upsets the ancient elemental evils of the forest: fire, earth, water, and air. As to why they literally decided to put Avatar: The Last Airbender into this film I really couldn’t tell you. Runeard is killed alongside a lot of others from each side, and Agnarr is saved by some unknown figure. Bedtime story ends and this forced exposition comes to a close.
Three years after where the first movie left off, Arendelle is celebrating Autumn? Why? Everyone is having a grand old’ time except for Elsa, who now hears otherworldly voices in her head. After some useless scenes aside, we get to a point where Elsa decides to not only hide these weird noises from her kingdom but furthermore awaken the elements of the forest. Literally, everyone is forced to evacuate Arendelle and now the main gang is going to travel to the Enchanted Forest to find out what’s wrong. At least the rock people are here to govern this entire kingdom with no apparent ruler.
The entire forest scene feels very out of place, and the focus primarily rests on these weird creatures that control the four elements. But wait! There are actually five spirits! But let’s push this idea to the side after just introducing it. Apparently, everyone from the original battle was still just trapped inside of the forest mist (because magic!) and needs a recap as to what is going on. Olaf somehow manages to salvage the lackluster humor in this film with his summary of the first movie (and with a few more jokes later in the film). We find out that king Agnarr was saved by a Northuldran who is actually Queen Iduna.
Anna, Elsa, and Olaf continue to Ahtohallan, a mythical river told by their mother to contain all explanations of the past. Elsa thinks it’s too dangerous and send the other two back for them to ultimately end up in a cave with no way out. Also, Olaf literally dies here because “the magic leaves his body”. Reaching Ahtohallan, Elsa discovers that the voice was the call of Iduna; and that her powers were gifted by the magic of nature because of Iduna’s selfless act of saving Agnarr, thus making Elsa the fifth spirit. Remember Runeard? He’s also apparently the bad guy and created the dam to weaken Northuldra and become more powerful, subsequently killing their leader.
In simple terms: Mom saves dad, daughter becomes an ice lady, daughter is now a metaphorical bridge between the supernatural and humanity and further destined to right the wrongs of grandfather’s evil intentions. You would assume they would come up with something that makes a bit more sense, but no! Magic!
To wrap things up, Anna receives some supernatural message from Elsa, uses some earth golems to destroy the dam, Elsa is back now and freezes the deluge headed towards Arendelle, and finally, peace is restored to all.
This movie really didn’t need to happen. Alongside the already spontaneous new lore they wrote into the worldbuilding, every character has this awful motif to them. Olaf is apparently aging and struggling with the increasing complexity of life, Kristoff struggles to propose to Anna in a cliche, uninteresting running gag, and Elsa refuses to share anything with her sister, no matter how important. It is a children’s movie, so I won’t judge too harshly on the humor. I did enjoy a lot of Olaf’s presence in this film, and his comedic relief managed to lighten up the bleaker parts of the movie. There were also a decent amount of songs, but ultimately, I’m indifferent to all of them. This isn’t the case for everyone though, so if you like some classic Disney flair then you’ll thoroughly enjoy them.
My main issue with Frozen II comes down to the fact that this movie has little to nothing to do with the original. Northuldra and the dam feel like such a forced concept, and the new characters introduced aren’t memorable at all. It might have actually been decent if the ideas were repurposed into a separate standalone film. But no! The story is just irrelevant nonsense with the original Frozen Cast slapped into it for easy marketing. The only correlation this has to the original film is the explanation of the King and Queen’s death, which surmounted to nothing but “They didn’t shipwreck here, they shipwrecked there!”. I would’ve been perfectly fine with the previous (official) notion that they both shipwrecked on a deserted island and had a son named Tarzan. Instead, we are given a story that excuses all plot holes with magic. Not all sequels are created equal, but Disney really needs to let this one go.