Have any of you watched any ‘making of’ docs or featurettes on Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom? If you have, after seeing FROZEN II, you might be already getting the point I’m about to make, but if you haven’t, let me clue you in a little on the big reveal from those little insights into the darkest chapter of the Indiana Jones franchise. It is revealed from Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, and even Lucas himself that most of Temple of Doom is just jumbled up unused ideas, themes, and scenes left on the cutting room floor from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The beginning at Club Obi-Wan through the jumping out of an airplane on an inflatable raft scene to the fast and furious mine cart chase near the climax of the film, all little unused ideas. Probably the reason why I don’t re-watch that film quite as much as the others (don’t worry, I still think Crystal Skull is still the worst of the four). What I’m trying to get at is that FROZEN II felt the exact same way for me, a bunch of unused messages, themes, and ideas that they probably had for the first movie but had to not include due to it not working with the flow of the first film. This film only feels like a half realized idea. In my opinion, the film is also way too dark and depressing for children, the songs aren’t memorable at all, the adults won’t get into the story and may even be bored by it, and they should’ve just left everything about the first movie alone. This didn’t need a sequel.
The film isn’t terrible, I just found it boring and unnecessary. After watching it and being ultimately disappointed by what I saw, and then went and did some research about when the first one came out (6 years ago) and how long they took to make it (a year and a half to come up with the story, much longer to create each and every animated frame), I came up with a personal (yet arguable conclusion): Disney forced the filmmakers to make this sequel when they didn’t have any solid story ideas or any justifiable reason for doing another adventure other than Disney just wanted more box office bucks and licensing to sell more toys. I bet you anything that the filmmakers had other original ideas up their sleeves, but when brought to Disney, they didn’t even take a look, they just shook their heads, tapped their watches, and asked when they would develop a sequel to one of their most successful animated films of all time. The creators probably didn’t want to do it, but Disney kept adding those 0s to their contracts, and after the last and final no, Disney exclaimed, “okay, if you won’t make it, someone else will.” It is then that the filmmakers didn’t want anybody else in control of their “baby,” and finally said yes, even though their hearts weren’t truly into it like they were with the first one. Not only truly into it, but they felt rushed to get a completed project out into the world by a certain date. Now keep in mind that this is just my heavy duty conjecture just to give the creators an excuse of why I was personally let down by this sequel. Because if none of that is true, and their hearts were completely into it and they had more than enough time with their songs and ideas and didn’t feel rushed at all…then that just makes this film worse in my mind.
I know a lot of people find the first film overrated, but that is because they didn’t watch until long after the crazed hype it received right after it was released. I personally still love the first movie, not just because I saw it the first night it came out before the casual moviegoer obsession began but also because I’ve watched it a thousand times with my young one, who gives his undivided attention to each and every viewing, and points and shouts with glee every time he sees one of the characters outside of home. To give a point of reference to my screening that I had over the weekend, I took my young one with my wife to a Camp Cinemark showing of the sequel, which kids are allowed to talk a little and move around a little (or a lot with both in some cases); a screening that die hard fans and non interrupted folk should stay far away from. With my son, I’ve learned to tolerate the distractions, and wasn’t really upset with my screening, and was confident coming out of it that I didn’t miss any of the movie. My son was the perfect little moviegoer during his screening, making me wish we had just went to a regular one as he leaned his head on my arm and paid attention to most of the entire thing. But I’m glad I ended up going to that show in the long run, because with my new found powers of heightened peripheral vision, hearing and side attention techniques I developed having having my first child, I was able to read the room with what they thought of the sequel as well, and it wasn’t good.
Kids barely paid attention to it, several of them saying out loud that they were bored or wanted to watch the original again, others screamed or cried during the really dark or sad parts of the movie, I heard adults whispering to themselves that they weren’t enjoying the sequel at all and that the songs weren’t very good, looking at their phone clocks to see how much time they had left in that miserable experience. When the film was over, there was not a clap of enjoyment, not even from my 2 year old son who claps when the credits roll on ANYTHING, and only a handful of people stayed for the songs during the credits or to even witness a half way decent after credits scene. To summarize: children and adults, at least in my screening, weren’t having it. And please believe me, I TRIED to give this sequel a chance, but after the first song I was like…”uh oh.” During the first movie, I had each and every song already stuck in my head before the next one played across the screen, already knowing and humming the words as I left the theater into the many days and weeks and years after to present day. I know the whole damn first movie by heart because of my son’s love for the film (not a bad thing.) I knew that there was no way a sequel could top or maybe even getting close to the magic of the first film, but I was hoping upon hope that I could be proven wrong. Alas, 3/4ths into the film, into the incredibly dark and depressing third act, I had given my hopes up.
Telling you any of the story would probably be considered spoilers, but I’m going to try so I can get my point of disappointment across. The first thing you should know is that the grand adventure advertised in the trailers and tv spots is nowhere to be found. Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven find this small, magical, closed off place in the forest and spend some time in there dealing with past shit, all the while Kristoff is trying to find a time and place to propose marriage to Anna. Not much happens, but that’s all I can really say without spoiling the film. The “not much happens “parts, to be very vague, are just messages and themes already explored in the first film that just felt repetitive all combined in the giant melting pot of a ‘reparations’ story line we’ve seen time and again from other and much, much better films. There are new characters in the film, but none of them get much screen time, leading to each and every single one of them feeling one note, the characterization all surface level, nothing deep. They only learn and change their attitudes instantly with several lines of dialogue the main characters give them at the drop of a hat. The center and arguably single stage only allows Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf to have character development, but instead of learning more about their inner selves like the script should’ve done, they only learn more about their untold surrounding history. All of this leads to revelations and fates they already experienced or should have experienced in the first film. The very, very ending fate of one of the main characters that happens in this sequel I had predicted would happen at the end of the first film while watching it for the first time, but was wrong. It happening in this film is part of the feeling I had about recycled or unused ideas I mentioned in my first paragraph.
None of the songs are memorable except for Kristoff’s funny love ballad, but that is mostly due to the visuals and the reindeer. But even with that song I wasn’t humming it nor was it stuck in my had afterward. None of them were, I can’t only remember the title of the song ‘Into The Unknown,’ because those three words were repeating over and over and over and over and over again for most of the song. To go even one step further with my complaints, some of the songs seems to borrow too much not only visually, but narratively from the first film. One song, ‘Show Yourself,’ copies almost verbatim visually from when Elsa belted out ‘Let It Go’ from the first one, all the way down to when she makes herself a new outfit using her powers. Then something happens to her that was narratively verbatim to what happened to a different character in the first film. It all just felt like unused or recycled shit, but in new gift wrapping, with a new pretty bow. Make no mistake, this film is visually, very, very well done. Everything looks gorgeous, some parts even breathtakingly beautiful. But special effects do not make a film. You should know that already because of Michael Bay and Transformers. Or James Cameron’s Avatar.
And the voice acting of course is still great. Everybody involved, Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, and even with little to do, Sterling K. Brown, Even Rachel Wood, and Alfred Molina, all do a fantastic job. The singing, sound mixing, sound editing, score, all perfect, it’s just packaged in a story I could never quite get invested in. And since I didn’t care about the story, or the songs, I didn’t care about the characters, which made me just not really care for the entire product. And if their heart wasn’t it in, they didn’t try hard enough, but if their heart was, then they tried way too hard. Sometimes with sequels, even though you want to do something drastically different, if its a kids movie, you can still do it, but you have to keep it simple. The story, themes, and sad parts in this film I feel are wayyyy too dark and depressing for the target audience that Disney was intending. They shouldn’t be making a movie for the ones that enjoyed the original film six years ago, they needed to make it for the ages of what all of us were (young and older) back then. A sequel to bring in a new audience but still fun, light, and bright like the original. It tried to mature way too much. Disney has always been able to ride that fine line (tightrope) between a kid movie and an adult movie, so precise in fact that it gives a film for everyone to enjoy. This film tripped over itself too much into the adult category, much like Ralph Breaks The Internet did (although I enjoyed that sequel so much more than this one, the story and character development were very strong and kept my undivided attention.)
All of this ends with someone asking me, “did you like Frozen 2?” and I answer with a crunched up meh face, a shake of my head and a shrug of my shoulders. It’s not something I’m going to get upset over if people really like it and think I’m wrong (I’m already tapped out of that after Joker). And if your kids like it, wonderful, I hope it brings them hours of repeat joy in the future. I have one more nitpick about the movie, but it goes vastly into spoiler territory, and it also just happens to be some bullshit I’m probably pulling out of my ass because it’s politically related, and I’m just tired of seeing that influence in films that don’t need to have those kinds of messages in them. Scroll way down for me just running my mouth. I just personally didn’t really like the movie, I think its a very mediocre sequel, and I think once the people that really like it give it enough time, the flaws will start to seep through the cracks. Especially when what happens when the second one hits home video and you’ve watched the first one a thousand times, put the sequel in, only get about halfway through it only to eject and put the first one on a thousand more times. There is way too much hardship in this movie. Ultimately, Frozen II tries too hard to be what The Empire Strikes Back did for Star Wars and instead it should’ve been something more akin to the Ewok sequences in Return of the Jedi.
**one spoiler paragraph warning** Okay, so this nitpick I’m pulling out of my ass as I probably read too much into films these days as seeing all these articles about movies containing references to today’s political climate or supporting social justice warrior’s agendas and all that crap. So take what I theorize with a grain of salt. It reveals in the film that this small place in the forest cut off from everyone so long ago has two group of people trapped within its magical borders: old Arendelle soldiers and magic Nomad people. t\They all hate each other because of Anna and Elsa’s grandfather, who basically was a fucking asshole bigot (Trump anyone?). For the two groups of people to get out of this purgatory-like place and break the magic spell trapping all of them there not able to leave, not only do they have to like and respect each other, but there is a dam that, if destroyed, will break the spell and let everyone escape. But also to destroy this dam would also completely flood and destroy Arendelle in the process. As Anna finds out that her parents were basically the Romeo and Juliet of these two groups, Anna also realizes the dam must be destroyed as a reparation of sorts for the sins of their grandfather and what he did to these spiritual magical nomads long ago (killed them). She gets these magic rock giant beings to throw giant boulders at it to break open the dam, but Elsa comes in on a horse (quite literally) and saves Arendelle from being destroyed anyway. The whole time I was just thinking, “Oh God, is this an anti-Trump, anti-Trump border wall movie? Are you fucking kidding me?” I don’t like Trump as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong, I’m just tired of seeing these type of messages taken from our political climate put inside a kids movie. They need to not do that. Now if that wasn’t the intention of the filmmakers, I apologize for trying to tie threads together that don’t exist and instead of trying to read too hard for these kinds of messages in these movies, I need to just….let it go. But if our politics today influenced this story at all in any way, and I’m right about some of my theories, shame on you filmmakers, come up with something more original and less preachy next time please. Thanks. **end of spoiler paragraph and the real end of the review**