SINGAPORE — It's hard being a sequel. Not only do you have to live up to the expectations of the original film, but you also have to tell your own tale and be your own film, and good sequels manage to be self-contained movies so that audiences don't have to do additional "work" before coming into the theatre. Frozen 2 tries its very best to be all of the above, even when it lacks a strong reason for being — with mixed results.
Frozen 2 is the sequel to Frozen (which came out in 2013), and follows the adventures of magical ice queen Elsa and her sister Anna. A new force arises to threaten the kingdom of Arendelle and Elsa is lured north by an irresistible song. In order to save their land, the sisters must uncover a decades-old mystery and put old ghosts to rest.
The film reminds you every five minutes of its major theme. In fact, the word "change", "transform", "adapt" and numerous other synonyms are uttered by the characters in virtually every scene, no matter how awkwardly shoehorned it is. It's almost as if the head writer, when doing one last pass of the script, decided to force the word "change" into every five pages of the script, lest the audience forget what Frozen 2's message is all about. It's a little on-the-nose and tiresome by the time the second Act rolls around.
It's also compounded by some plot issues, especially the way the main characters travel all around the lands bordering Arendelle. Midway through the film, a map of the continent Arendelle is shown, to give you a sense of location and progression of the character's whereabouts. And it makes sense, since it's an arduous journey into unknown lands. But in the second half of the film, the characters zip around the map at the speed of plot, as if they were travelling by... magic (which they are, but still). Nevertheless, the internal inconsistency nags at you, especially when you wonder how some characters are virtually teleporting all around the map.
But then there's the music, right? Frozen 2's songs are fun bubblegum pop with some nice musical parodies thrown in (for the adults), but none of them have the emotional punch or earworm qualities of Frozen's “Let It Go”. And that's one of the defining traits of Frozen — powerful, moving songs that are unforgettable. This may prove to be a fortunate thing for some parents (especially when your child is singing Let It Go for the 723rd time), but it doesn't elevate this movie.
Kids will probably love Olaf (Josh Gad), especially since he's now this curious wunderkind... but adults are going to want to strangle the smartypants snowman. His constant spouting of facts and general knowledge doesn't quite work because he doesn't say it in a cute enough way, nor are his comments that insightful to begin with. Worst of all, Olaf doesn't sound like a kid — he literally sounds like an adult doing his best impression of a kid, which makes the whole characterisation even more grating.
However, the lore and world-building for the Frozen franchise is wonderful. The portrayal of the elements as primal forces that are sometimes intangible makes for a nice contrast to the human characters, and a refreshing take on elementals (who are usually represented as humans made of fire/water/air/earth). There's this subtle message of nature and sustainability, but what makes it all work is how the elements are shown to be inexorable forces which can be incomprehensible to humans. It also works in conjunction with Elsa's characterisation, especially since she's been shown to be so different (and hence, a little incomprehensible) from other humans.
Frozen 2 is a sequel that didn't really need to exist (the first Frozen was a self-contained movie that didn't leave any obvious plotlines dangling or sequel hooks, which is rare but good in today's world of endless film franchises), but the writers tried their best to make it grander in scope yet more personal in depth than the first. While all the checkboxes are ticked off, it feels a little factory-made and lacks the magic of the first, since it has no real raison d'etre. However, that doesn't preclude it from being an enjoyable return to Arendelle, and it was intriguing to learn more about the mythology of this frozen world. Remember to stay back for a cute (but unimportant) post-credits scene.
Running time: 103 min
Frozen 2 is a 3D animated fantasy musical. It is a sequel to 2013's Frozen.
It is directed and written by Jennifer Lee, with directing credits for Chris Buck and story credits for Chris Buck, Marc E. Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Robert Lopez. It features the voice talents of Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gad (Olaf), Sterling K. Brown (Lieutenant Destin Mattias), Martha Plimpton (Yelana), Evan Rachel Wood (Queen Iduna), and Alfred Molina (King Agnarr).
Frozen 2 opens in cinemas:
- 21 November 2019 (Singapore)
- 21 November, 2019 (Malaysia)
- 20 November, 2019 (Philippines)
Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.
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