Frozen II ★★½

The 58th and most recent release (as of my viewing) in the Disney animated canon, also a sequel to Frozen. At the beginning of 2019, I set the goal to watch all of these movies by the end of 2020 and paced myself to do it all in exactly two years, at least until a pandemic forced me to stay home and I had more time to watch movies and ended up getting through a solid five months early. Neat!
I made a strong effort to go into Frozen with an open mind despite, like I imagine many can relate to, some annoyance (to put it mildly) at the intense hype over it. And I thought Frozen was decent! It had some really good songs and a take on the Disney princess story that felt new and relevant. I went into this film with basically no expectations, really - there haven't been enough official Disney animated theatrical sequels (there's plenty of sequels but most of them are direct to video) to really know what to expect. The one area where this movie definitely nailed it for me is in the visuals, which almost look like an art movie a lot of the time, although for a budget of $150m it had damn better well look good. The actual plot of the film itself is mildly interesting, albeit with a main conceit that is beyond predictable and a major theme that they're so afraid you won't catch that they have the characters say it to each other every 15 minutes or so. The story would be more interesting, frankly, if they spent more time on it, but it feels relegated to occasional exposition dumps that happen periodically between a bunch of bad jokes and reminding you that It's Important That We Do This Together. I know everybody hated Olaf in the first movie, but I really didn't mind him that much because I felt like he wasn't around THAT much. I think this movie increased his screentime and annoyingness by a solid 300%, and while the movie does have a bit of the Disney Snark that I hate so much, the real issue with the dialogue here all feels - and I'm sorry I can't think of a better comparison here - like it was taken from Tumblr text posts. It's all stuff that SOUNDS very deep and wise and emotionally intelligent and, most importantly, quoteable. I really think that's a major priority of Disney's at this point: to be the subject of memes and reaction GIFs. They're a lot more concerned with having individual moments here and there that sound quippy and smart than they are with an overall story that builds up into something really meaningful, at least as far as this movie is concerned. That's not to say that they haven't done anything good lately at all - I loved Zootopia and I liked Moana just fine! But when they get kind of lazy, like I feel like they did here, you can see where they go when they don't want to think too hard.
The very first time Kristoff attempted and failed to propose to Anna, which happens like, 5 minutes into the movie, I could tell where they were going to go with that one. It's lazy! It's lazy and it's obvious and it happens so often that it's not even really that satisfying when it finally does happen. (MINOR SPOILERS STARTING HERE) Likewise, one of the major plot points of the film is that Arendelle is threatened with danger, but none of its citizens will be harmed if the right thing is done, but by the end of the movie when the right thing is done, not even a single building is harmed! This is a film that presents us with low enough stakes to begin with and doesn't even follow through on the very minor threat to the story's equilibrium that it presents. (SPOILERS OVER)
Sequels have their own qualifier separate from other movies - does this movie need to exist? I mean, no movie needs to exist period, but a movie that just continues the story of another movie feels like it has some additional expectations to meet. I don't think this movie really meets them! I liked some parts of it and hated some others, but I never felt like it was really meaningfully expanding on the story of the original Frozen.