Review by Father James DiLuzio
Elsa and Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are off on a new adventure and the Disney animators have outdone themselves in visuals. I saw Frozen II in IMAX and the vistas and panoramas of Arendelle, Forests, Glaziers and Canyons are stunning, and the characterizations, especially emotive eyes of the protagonists prove totally captivating. The story (credited to five writers, including the sole screenwriter Jennifer Lee who is also co-director with Christ Buck, another story contributor) offer solid psychological, emotional and spiritual growth drama for Elsa and Anna. Each woman is voiced by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, respectively in top form. This new script gives Anna a little more depth and develops Elsa more readily courageous then before. The animation matches their voice portrayals perfectly and both voice portrayals are first-rate. In their supporting comic roles, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff returning as Olaf and Kristoff are equally enjoyable. The script gives Olaf a dandy new twist spouting “fun-facts” and philosophical maxims. Most are clever and amusing and worth more than a few chuckles, although a couple notes about death seem surprisingly beyond Disney’s purview. Evidently, the screenwriters overly indulged their inner adult!
Overall, FROZEN II offers a satisfying movie experience, although the songs by husband and wife team Kristen Anderson Lopez Robert Lopez (who also contributed to the story) don’t reach the heights of their work in the original FROZEN. Perhaps they needed more fallow time before returning to these characters and situations. Elsa’s big ballads INTO THE UNKOWN and SHOW YOURSELF miss the magnetism of LET IT GO even as the orchestral arrangements build to climactic proportions. The most memorable and effective songs were the quieter ones, especially a folk-like ballad ALL IS FOUND sweetly sung by Evan Rachel Wood in a flashback voicing Queen Iduna, the princesses’ mother. (The song is repeated in the credits by Kacey Musgraves.) Notwithstanding their appropriate character revelations and plot advancements, several songs don’t seem to flow organically from the dialogue and situations the way they do in other Anderson/Lopez scores. Olaf’s WHEN I’M OLDER and Kristoff’s LOST IN THE WOODS, fine but not remarkable as stand-alone numbers, seem to pop into the script at not quite the right moments. This is the biggest surprise and a rare flaw in a Disney animated musical feature. The orchestrated musical score, however, by Christopher Beck is excellent.
I would recommend the film for families with kids 10 and older due to some of the darker elements in the script. The story team has provided well-developed themes of sisterhood, friendship, maturation and best of all: the importance of discovering and confronting the ill effects of the past on both the human psyche and the natural world. A nice surprise and an essential timely lesson for us all.