By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf return in a new adventure that amuses and entertains, but lacks a solid story as its foundation. It is a simple case of sequelitis that keeps this new installment from achieving the same heights of greatness and passion, but it is an enjoyable journey nevertheless. Still, Frozen II probably should’ve been one of those lesser Disney sequels more suitable for only the video/streaming market. Heck, Disney + just made its official debut recently and this movie would have been perfect as a launching vehicle.

Some time has passed after the events of the first film and things seem to have gone mostly well as the magical Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) reigned over the kingdom of Arendelle. However, this proves to be the calm before the storm, and I actually mean a literal one. The forces of nature are not at all happy with Elsa’s kingdom and the source of their apparent anger remains a mystery. In order to guarantee the safety of her people, Elsa, Anna (Kristen Bell), Christoff (Jonathan Groff), and Olaf (Josh Gad)embark on an arduous journey which uncovers a dark and unsettled secret that sheds a most unfavorable light on their kingdom’s history.

Though, the filmmakers obviously have good intentions to teach some valuable lessons to young audience members, their approach to the material fails to make a powerful statement. Also, a particular choice with the story’s clinax nearly derails the stakes that are supposedly involved. Still, directors Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and their screenwriters manage to make this wonky morality lesson fun and amusing. The song and music choices, along with the jokes and visual gags make the movie are going to be what keep audiences involved, rather than their prosaic attempts at a moral.

Helping to keep these characters interesting are the returning voice talents whicvh include Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad. Once again, Gad is the real standout as he voices the sweet and jolly snowman Olaf with much earnestness and excellent comic timing. New talents include Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, and Jeremy Sisto. All of these new cast members perform solidly in their respective roles.

So, even though I very much enjoyed Frozen II, I cannot highly recommend it as a must see in the theater. It is a good enough sequel to enjoy, but just doesn’t have the same level of magic and awe as the first installment. Should Disney decide to.go forth with a sequel, they better try harder. Otherwise, they are better off debuting it on their streaming service.

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