Frozen II ★★★

I kinda get the feeling that Frozen was meant to be a lead-in to a TV series, or at least that Frozen II started off as a few ideas meant to be episodes in a potential series, and that the first movie's bigger-than-expected success led to a second full blown movie being made instead. The sequel is a strange, disjointed Frankenstein of a movie where several unrelated plot threads were tossed together and made to happen at the same time despite none of those ideas coming from the same source.

Each character really feels like they're in a different genre. Elsa is dealing with something straight out of an anime or a JRPG. There's a little bit of Princess Mononoke with the conflict between nature and humanity's "progress" and how her powers are a sign of her being a bridge between the two. There's also a whole lot of early days Final Fantasy with all of this stuff with elements and crystal motifs and going to the literal edges of the world to find your destiny. In the end, Elsa feels like she's one bad day away from becoming one of those Final Fantasy final god bosses who takes up half the screen and has multiple stages of increasingly beautiful and grotesque body horror forms. It's only the fact that she's a Disney Princess that's keeping her from becoming the next Kefka. All the stuff with the various elemental spirits and how she befriends most of them is all pretty odd stuff for a Disney movie. The bit where she battles and tames the water horse while trying to use her ice powers to cross dangerous water is a really cool action set piece that feels very out of place for a Disney flick, and it's all the more awesome for that.

Olaf gets a story kinda reminiscent of Forky's from Toy Story 4. He's becoming all too AWARE of his existence, and he's having a grade school existential crisis where his "everything makes sense and works out in the end" philosophy is being called into question. It doesn't have nearly the same oomph as Forky's story, probably because the Disney proper side of the studio isn't made up of as many middle aged dudes going through mid-life crises as Pixar does, but the threads are pretty similar.

Anna is just sort of there, following and reacting to Elsa and trying to be The Good Sister and all that. The roles are so much reversed from the first movie, where Anna was very much more in the active protagonist role seeking out Elsa and all that, so much as we're seeing Anna go through STUFF to set her up for her ascension to the crown at the end of the movie. She has to DEAL with things to earn it, but it all feels like something of an afterthought.

Then you have Kristoff, who's in the middle of some sort of misunderstanding sitcom plot straight out of Three's Company or Ranma 1/2. He's trying to propose to Anna, but UH OH THINGS GET IN THE WAY *insert pratfall*. He gets what's probably the best song of the movie, but the way it plays like a music video for a bad late 80s power ballad makes it feel like something out of a Dreamworks movie. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Then there's the delving into their parents' past and the sins of their grandfather and all the stuff with the mist, which kinda ties into everything but also feels like it's there to create some sort of overarching conflict. There's no actual villain, save for their grandfather, and all of his actions are in the past. It's all dealing with consequences rather than vanquishing a foe head-on. It's actually pretty cool that they went that way, but it makes what SEEMS like the main plot feel like yet another afterthought.

All of this makes Frozen II far more interesting than it has any right to be, but it's also at the heart of why it doesn't QUITE work as a cohesive whole. Going with the whole anime vibe, it feels like one of those compilation movies where they take several episodes of a TV series, stitch together several major plot threads, edit out some of the "fluff," add in some new animation, and call it a movie. It's as if there was a Frozen TV series, and this is said compilation movie for that nonexistent series.

I'm almost sad that I demanded Olaf's death in my review for Frozen. That was me being snarky for finding him annoying, but then they tried to make him more interesting before turning around and did exactly what I wanted. You know, until they brought him back *spoiler*. They can still kill the rock troll things next time. They're still garbage. Just don't touch my precious fire salamander thing.