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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Movie Review: ‘Frozen II’ freezes over

Friday, December 20, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Frozen II” is an impressive animation feature film highlighted by inspiring artwork and excellent songs sequences.

“Frozen II” was seen in the 3D format for this movie review. “Frozen II” is worth paying the 3D premium ticket price to see the film. The animation glistens, glows and shimmers. That’s partly because of the film’s predominantly winter setting. The ice is the icing on the animation cake of “Frozen II.”

In the 3D format, snowflakes seem to float before your eyes. It’s almost as if you are inside a giant snow globe.

There are magnificent scenes of mountains, lakes and landscapes. There’s a sequence that takes the film’s characters down a raging river as giant rocks awaken to become huge creatures. In other scenes, characters clamber inside caves. In yet another, a character rides a horse of ice. The animation is breathtaking.

The effect of the majestic animation in “Frozen II” is at times reminiscent of the Disney classic, “Fantasia” (1940). Look for an Oscar animated film nomination for “Frozen.”

The storyline and the character animation in “Frozen II,” a sequel to “Frozen,” released in 2013, does not match the level of artistry of the sequel’s overall look.

The plot, which is on thin ice, has to do with Elsa and Anna on a quest to free the Enchanted Forest of a foreboding mist. With battling tribes with names like Northuldra and Arendellian, the destination of the quest named Ahtohallan, plus explanations of the reasons for the spirits of earth, fire, water, and air, I felt as lost as Elsa and Anna.

That’s OK. I enjoyed “Frozen II” for the phenomenal beauty, imagination and artistry of its animation.

The character voice actors are fine, including Idina Menzel (Queen Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna, Princess of Arendelle), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gad (Olaf), Evan Rachel Wood (Iduna, Elsa’s and Anna’s mother) and Sterling K. Brown (Mattias).

The songs are impressive. To be sure, there’s no “Let It Go,” the terrific Academy Award- and Grammy-winning song that parents have been hearing on demand by their children for the past six years, by the songwriting team of husband and wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

The songs by the Lopezes in “Frozen II” and the singing and production of them is memorable nonetheless, including “Some Things Never Change” (Kristen Bell), “The Next Right Thing” (Kristen Bell), “All Is Found” (Evan Rachel Wood) and “Into The Unknown” (Idina Menzel, Evan Rachel Wood”).

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (animation feature film Oscar recipients, “Frozen,” 2013) work from a screenplay by Lee and a story by Lee, Buck, Marc E. Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The “Frozen” films are inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen.”

The screenplay is lacking in the usual quppy cartoon fare, which is not altogether a bad thing. Cracking wise can be wearisome. The screenplay is also deficient in business typical to acting technique that would make the characters more relatable.

The lead characters seem to be distanced from the audience. Emotionally, I couldn’t relate to any of them except Olaf. I chalk that up to a generational difference. Plus, I think the main characters in “Frozen” are designed to be tabula rasas on which young fans can project their own personalities and emotions.

The animation style of the character’s faces and bodies in “Frozen II” is similar to that of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (1991). The eyes of the main characters seem as big as cell phone screens. The faces are very expressive. The characters’ body movements appear more measured, more adult and reserved. A new character, a salamander, resembles a character from “Lilo & Stitch” (2002).

“Frozen II” is an entertaining film that should please pre-school and elementary school children, and occupy their accompanying parents and guardians.

“Frozen II,” MPAA rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.) for action, peril and some thematic elements; Genre: Animation, Adventure, Musical, Comedy; Run Time: 1 hr., 43 min.; Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: During the “Frozen II” end credits, Panic at the Disco sings a version of “Into The Unknown” and Weezer sings a version of “Lost In The Woods.” Stay to the very, very end, to see Olaf in a scene where he recounts the film’s highlights. If only the rest of the movie had been as much fun.

Box Office, Dec. 13-15: “Jumanji: The Next Level,” the sequel to the 2017 film again starring Freedom High School graduate Dwayne Johnson and Philadelphia native Kevin Hart, opened at No. 1 with $60.1 million, melting “Frozen II” from its three-week straight hold on No. 1, dropping one place to No. 2 with $19.1 million, $366.5 million, four weeks, as “Knives Out” dropped one place to No. 3 with $9.2 million, $78.9 million, three weeks; “Richard Jewell,” director Clint Eastwood’s take on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, opened at No. 4 with $5 million, and “Black Christmas” opened at No. 5 with $4.4 million.

6. “Ford v Ferrari” dropped three places with $4.1 million, $98.2 million, five weeks. 7. “Queen & Slim” moved down three places, $3.6 million, $33.1 million, three weeks. 8. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” dropped three places, $3.3 million, $49.3 million, four weeks. 9. “Dark Waters” dropped three places, $2 million, $8.8 million, four weeks. 10. “21 Bridges” dropped three places, $1.1 million, $26.3 million, four weeks.

According to the Box Office Mojo web site, “Frozen II” is Disney’s sixth $1-billion-plus global release of 2019; the third Walt Disney Animations Studios release to top $1 billion, along with “Frozen” and “Zootopia”; the seventh biggest animated release worldwide, and the 10th biggest animated release domestically.

Unreel, Dec. 20:

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” PG-13: J.J. Abrams directs Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Issac, Lupita Nyong’o, Billy Dee Williams, Richard E. Grant and John Boyega in the Science-Fiction Action Film. The Resistance faces the First Order in what’s said to be the final chapter of the saga.

“Cats,” PG: Tom Hooper directs Idris Elba, Francesca Hayward, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson and Jason Derulo in the Musical Fantasy. A tribe of cats sing and dance their way from the Broadway stage to the big screen.

“Bombshell,” R: Tom Hooper directs Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Alice Eve, Nicole Kidman in the Biography Drama concerning sexual harassment allegations against Fox News Network head Roger Ailes.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes