Thursday, November 14, 2019

Frozen II - Movie Review

The Movie: Frozen II

The Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

The Cast: Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Jason Ritter, Idina Menzel, Sterling K. Brown, Alan Tudyk, Josh Gad, Rachel Matthews, Ciarán Hinds, Alfred Molina

The Story: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their kingdom.

The Review:
Frozen debuted in theaters all the way back in 2013 blowing away box office expectations and having a run of success that quite honestly never really ended. The movie was filled with stunning visuals and a roster of musical numbers that had audiences singing along, buying soundtracks, and going crazy over that one song we all either love or hate but none of us could find a way to let it go. Yes, that one. Pun intended, of course.

Now it's 2019 and Disney animation is back with a new story for sisters Elsa and Anna, visuals that are even more stunning to look at, and another song list that will be filling karaoke machines for years to come. All of that was expected because that's what Disney does so what I was really looking forward to was the story the film makers would be telling this time around. Taking one of the studio's most iconic and beloved stories of the modern animation era and expanding on it with new ideas had to be no easy task.

One thing you always want to do is bet on Disney when it comes to their animated features. There is absolutely a formula in place and a method to the madness, both of which exist to not only entertain but to also maximize sales at the box office as well as in their expansive and all encompassing merchandise department. None of that part of the Disney machinery diminishes the impressive story telling put together by a roster of talented writers and the directing team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Characters are given new arcs that genuinely push their individual stories forward and everyone, even Olaf he snowman gets to have their moments in the spotlight.

It seems like every time a new Disney or Pixar movie comes out, I am impressed with the quality of the animation and I can honestly say that this movie takes an even bigger leap forward in what is possible within this incredible medium. The landscapes are beautiful, the fall color pallet used for the movie is so lush and gorgeous, and the level of detail is jaw dropping at times especially when it comes to the characters and how expressive they are.

It's amazing to see how the animators are able to stick to a very specific visual stylization while also bringing what seems like photo realistic emotion to the character's faces. These achievements in digital animation help to sell the the character performances in ways that have never been available before and I look forward to seeing how this technology and artistry gets developed even further.

Of course this wouldn't be Disney animation without some catchy tunes to keep you toe tapping and singing along from beginning to end. Two of the songs especially stuck out to me for carrying the tradition of the big, power ballad type song like the iconic Let it Go from the first movie. Into the Unknown is Idina Menzel's big moment as Elsa to throw down on a song that is tailor made for her impressive talents and then Kristen Bell, as Anna, gets her turn with The Next Right Thing, a song that has such a wonderful message, not just for girls but for anyone who needs a little inspiration in their lives.

The Verdict:
Frozen II is a triumph in the world of animation and I'm sure will be a huge success with children of all ages as the holiday movie season gets under way. Breathtaking animation, captivating musical numbers, meaningful metaphors, positive messaging, and a story that is genuinely funny and filled with tons of emotion. This movie has it all.

Before this review gets completely thawed out, it's time for contributor Van Thu Nguyen aka "Mini Van" (Spoiler alert: she's not tall) to chime in as she will be making guest appearances from time to time with her very own thoughts on the movies that we see together.

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