Lush musical atmosphere of 'Frozen II' falls flat despite initial hype

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Disney

Forget “Let It Go.” It’s time to get “Lost in the Woods” with “Frozen II.”

“Frozen II” is the highly anticipated sequel to Disney’s animated hit “Frozen.” Fan-favorites Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven return for another chilling adventure, this time venturing into a mysterious, enchanted forest that has been calling to Elsa. “Frozen II” features familiar yet entertaining high jinks accompanied by yet another infectious soundtrack.

Idina Menzel’s Elsa continues to showcase her frozen fury, delivering powerful dialogue and ballads throughout the film. Kristen Bell’s Anna cheerfully compliments Menzel with a witty and ambitious performance. She is given more of a focus this time around, emphasizing her desire to truly be part of Elsa’s adventure, as opposed to just a sidplayer.

Jonathan Groff’s Kristoff is given more time to shine, as he comedically tries to figure out a way to propose to Anna. Olaf, played by Josh Gad, is as oblivious and optimistic as ever, prancing around the perilous dangers of the enchanted forest. He’s always there to lighten the mood, and it certainly works more than it doesn’t.

The animation, as always with Disney films, is absolutely top tier. Lush, natural environments mesh beautifully with the smoothly animated characters. The use of warm color tones in the “Frozen” universe contrasts nicely with the abundant blue, cold visuals. The lighting, animations and whimsicality help bring magical elements to fruition, causing viewers to be wide-eyed with intrigue. At times it feels as if the audience is watching an extravagant musical, complete with a light show that would fit right in at Walt Disney World.

It wouldn’t be a “Frozen” sequel without a slew of catchy tunes. While the first film offered powerful fan-favorites such as “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” “Frozen II” shakes things up a bit with a larger variety of music genres. Standouts include a hilarious homage to retro love songs in the form of Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods” and a ditzy dark humor bop delivered by Olaf with “When I Am Older.” Elsa’s empowering “Into the Unknown” is clearly the intended follow-up to the success of “Let it Go,” but it can’t help but seem as if it is trapped within its shadow.

For a film that has garnered a tremendous amount of fans from all age groups, it’s unfortunate that “Frozen II” continues to play it safe. The plot often feels rushed, with characters quickly progressing through a dangerous journey in order to get from one musical performance to the next. Along the way, characters suffer loss and grieve in some effectively heavy scenarios, but these consequences are often quickly resolved, resulting in an undeserved payoff. It is understandable that a film mainly geared towards children would shy away from truly tackling intensive situations, but as a sequel, it is important to show maturity and risk when it comes to the continued experience of fan-favorite characters.

“Frozen II” is certainly not as revolutionary as its predecessor, often playing it safe within the confines of its preestablished narrative. Regardless, the film is filled to the brim with warmth and heart and ensures that fans will enjoy yet another snow-covered escape into the unknown.

3.5 Olaf dismemberments out of 5