Frozen II is the most confused I’ve been at the movies all year, and it’s an odd beast to tango with. It is not a bad film by any means (I guess), but it also has me wondering “how did you fuck up this badly” (and with that line we are no longer family friendly, don’t worry I don’t fly too off the handle but we do have to keep the COPPA Choppers of my tail). Frozen II honestly presents an interesting thought experiment as the problem with this movie is honestly this: everything you’d want in a movie is great but everything a film needs either is completely missing or haphazardly done.
Gorgeously animated: yep, fantastic and whimsical music: (Initially thought it was passable and suffered from too many showstoppers, but it grows on you) sure, likable cast of characters with diverse personalities and inner conflicts to navigate absolutely. All of this sounds pretty good, until you realize that the film just forgets to do some of the essentials. These essentials being: having a plot, character development, conflict, tension, a climax, cause and effect that either gives consequences to actions of a character or the end result feeling that it was a logical conclusion of events that transpired and not just made up on a whim.
This movie feels like it was not structured to even tell a story, but that 5 people just sat around and came up with ideas of what should happen and then one of them just took all those ideas and compiled them into a screenplay. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration and the fact that this movie does have 5 story by credits and one screenplay by is purely coincidental. All right let’s just bust those open doors wide open and see if my criticisms are legit or if I should just…. …… …. LET IT GO. I’m sorry.
(BIG WARNING A BETTER REVIEWER WOULD HAVE A LONGER NO SPOILER SECTION, BUT ALL MY TALKING POINTS INVOLVE MAJOR HAPPENINGS FROM THE 2ND HALF OF THE FILM, SO I CAN’T DANCE AROUND THAT. EVERY SECTION BEYOND THIS POINT WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS SO ONLY READ IT IF YOU’VE SEEN THE FLICK OR ARE APATHETIC TOWARDS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FILM. THANK YOU, PLEASE ENJOY)
My bold prediction is that “Show Yourself” is going to get an Oscar nomination, it’s only not as big now because it is the more spoilery song by Elsa. It’s the one moment of the movie that feels as big and monumental as it tries to be. Besides for trying a little too hard to replicate the success of Let it Go (dress transformation, hair down, slow build up, powerful vocals, self-revelation moment, etc.), this song works, but the moment also just has me going, WHAT? HUH?
This whole time Elsa’s inner conflict has been: I’m misunderstood, and there’s nobody who quite understands what it’s like to be me. She’s beckoned by this source of magic and she hopes that there’s someone who can give her answers. She hears of these legendary elemental spirits, but they all turn out to be not exactly what she’s looking for. The fire spirit is cute animal companion #909, the wind spirit is a ghost, the water spirit is a forgettable movie from 2007, and the rock spirit is unclear. Her only shot is for the avatar, the master that ties these elements together to be someone just like her. Elsa travels all the way to retcon island and discovers that the voice that’s been calling her this whole time was her dead mom, who just wanted to tell Elsa that she’s pretty cool, and as a result Elsa gets to die for 10 minutes. She also doesn’t find it at any point bittersweet that she technically didn’t find what she was looking for.
Here’s the thing along with many of the problems I have, this could have been easily fixed if they just thought about what they were doing before it was too late (or maybe they just didn’t care, this thing was guaranteed to crack a billion).
The beginning of the movie focuses more on Elsa’s status as Queen of Arendelle. With this maybe establish two things: Elsa feels that she can solve all her problems with her ice powers and that the people of Arendelle favor Anna over Elsa. This makes sense as while people might be warming up to Elsa, they still have known Anna longer and Anna is generally more outgoing. Elsa also has always seen her ice powers as what defines her so it makes sense that she sees them as how to fix everything. When Arendelle must be evacuated Elsa is trying to maintain order with her ice-powers but she fails miserably.
Instead of being motivated by a vague sense of adventure and wanting to find someone who understands her, the big motivation is that she has to save her people. A noble pursuit, Elsa realizes that her powers isn’t enough and when the stupid rock trolls tell her, “yo, legend has it the avatar exists in the woods, maybe they can help”. Then surprise the movie plays out like it did, the Wizard of Oz isn’t going to solve your problems, but you know who can Elsa? You can, not with just your powers but with who you are. You are the one you’ve been waiting for to save the day.
I feel like someone is going to call me out for nitpicking because it seems like I’m just performing wishful thinking. I don’t think questioning the flaws in the character motives and the cause and effect of the plot is nitpicking at all. I’m using these hypothetical scenarios to reinforce and exemplify why things didn’t work for me or how things could have shaped up instead of just blindly going, “well it would have been better if they did it my way”.
Kristoff gets Lost in the Woods
I don’t think there’s a single review out there that doesn’t comment on Kristoff’s involvement in Frozen II. It makes sense that a character that everyone noticed just kind of disappears for about half an hour and reappears abruptly is sure to create some thoughts. From what we did see, I’m sure you could conclude that it was pointless and meandering, or so bizarre and quirky that it’s one of the highlights of the film. My take: …yes?
Let’s be honest nobody bought a ticket to see Kristoff so the fact that he is treated as an afterthought throughout this film seems completely fair. However, if you are going to give him a character arc…. You should complete it. So, Kristoff’s set-up is, kind of genius. Kristoff’s big deal is that he wants to propose to Anna. Aww how cute? I’m using vague time jump to justify that Anna, who was heavily criticized for “marrying a guy she just met” in the last one would look like nothing was learned from that. But it’s okay because she has been with Kristoff for… a vague amount of time, and that makes it acceptable. Cliché, yeah kind of; but it’s rather brilliant because it really contrasts the goals of Anna and Elsa who really are too busy with this “epic” adventure that they got no romance on their minds (sorry Elsa GF fandom). It’s also an earnest down to earth problem, I can’t relate to magic and impending doom of my kingdom, but I can relate to Kristoff’s deal. Everyone should to some degree.
So naturally with this whole set up and Anna and Kristoff being the original pair that everyone enjoyed their banter from the last time… have like 8 minutes of screen time together. Anna just kind of floats around dealing with everyone else’s story line until there’s only 10 minutes left in the movie and they decide to give her something to do (more on that). Instead Kristoff spends a lot of time with “dipper pines” I don’t remember his real name I think I’ll add an image with all the names of the unimportant characters who do nothing in case anyone wants to know.
While Kristoff tries to propose the plot literally continues on without him, so he’s left to do nothing but perform an 80’s love ballad… why, not. It’s interesting because the film doesn’t let you know when the lyrics of the music is the meat of the scene as in Show Yourself… or when it’s just words like this one. What I mean is, Kristoff is expressing himself, and therefore is setting up what the conflict is. This is very basic, and you can pick any Disney movie and you’ll see the songs explaining what the character’s motivations are:
Hercules– Go the Distance- Leads into Hercules going forth to train with Phil, become a hero
Moana – How Far I’ll Go – I don’t feel comfortable on this island so I’m going to journey beyond some day
The Little Mermaid-Part of Your World- I’m curious about the world above so I’m going to do whatever it takes to find out.
None of the songs have any lyrics that contradicts the actions of the character. So when Kristoff’s big finish is:
“But I’ll wait, for a sign. That I’m your path, cause you are mine. Until then I’m lost in the woods”
So when you sing a song about the insecurity in your relationship, that reveals uncertainty about whether it’s right for you to propose at the time… with the 1 CAVEAT that you’ll wait for a sign… …. what was that sign? I mean you saw the movie too, you can answer this one, c’mon?
Anna and Kristoff have one brief interaction where he asks her “what do you need” and then after the day is saved thanks to the magic ice girl, Kristoff’s sign is maybe the run-time and he knew he needed to wrap things up.
The real shame of it is this…. Do you know how easy it would have been to fix this? One line. The problem is Anna never gives Kristoff any affirmation that she likes him, at all. How about, when Kristoff runs in and helps her, Anna gives a reply like, “wow, you’re always there when I need you, ” or something along those lines. That not only gives Kristoff his pivotal sign he yearns from Anna, but it also sends a message (it currently doesn’t have one?) that love isn’t necessarily always being by someone’s side 24/7, it’s who’s around when you need them to be. I think Disney should be kind of embarrassed that they just kind of half-baked what should have been a simple character arc. If we are being honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if a line like this existing in one of the 18 drafts at some point and then some genius executive behind the Wreck-It-Ralph 2 Princess scene saw there was a single line that insinuated that Anna needs a big strong man in her life and had a reaction that kinda played out like this:
When will you learn that your actions have consequences, teaching young children to rely on their significant others in their time of need, unacceptable. But a sly BDSM kink joke in a children’s movie… that’s fine.
I want to thank you all for joining me, apparently my thoughts on Frozen II go on, but I don’t want to take up any more of your time. So, I will continue this post tomorrow. Be sure to follow, if you’d like to continue with my thoughts on the Villain of Frozen II and the wild ending? That is it, take care, have a good one, and I will see you at the movies!
If you want to continue on the Frozen 2 train, but want a more likable personality or a deeper dive into the full tale I recommend checking these reviews out: