'Frozen 2' isn't very good, not that it matters

Brad Keefe
"Frozen 2"

Every Disney movie is constructed to be a hit, but no one could have predicted the runaway success of “Frozen.”

It looked like a second-tier animated movie for Disney, but audiences flocked to it, merchandise went flying off the shelves and future classrooms will likely have more than one “Elsa.”

Success breeds this inevitability: Of course, there will be a sequel, whether it’s needed or not.

It’s not really fair to expect the makers of “Frozen” to capture lightning in a bottle twice, nor are many of the kiddos helping to sell out theaters this weekend going to be disappointed in the least with “Frozen 2.” But an overcomplicated story proves that more isn’t necessarily better. If you’re expecting this sequel to be on the same level you need to let it go, let it gooooo!

Now that Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) has fully embraced her role as queen of Arendelle and everyone has lived happily ever after, new complications have to arise. Her sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), is looking for love, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is hanging with his reindeer, and Olaf (Josh Gad) is still chilling. But a connection to the sisters’ past brings the gang to an enchanted forest kingdom for a new set of adventures.

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee return with a bigger budget and bigger expectations. “Frozen 2” is a visual upgrade with plenty of oohs and ahhs from both sweeping scenery and action set pieces. But the more focused story of “Frozen” was both simpler and sweeter, a tale of estranged sisters finding themselves and each other again.

In fact, when Gad’s cheery snowman Olaf provides a focused recap of the first movie’s plot, you realize how much simpler it was. Much like “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the plot seems to serve the big moments better than it advances the story of these now-beloved characters.

The voice cast is still cheerily game with Bell’s sweet and goofy charms, Menzel’s gravitas (and those legendary pipes) and Gad taking advantage of his breakout character’s added screentime.

But did anyone think “Frozen” needed to be a bit more like “Game of Thrones”? Cultural conflicts, love stories and betrayal make the whole thing a bit of a forgettable blur.

The songs are also an impossible act to follow, and there’s definitely not another “Let It Go,” although a hilarious ’80s power ballad by Groff’s Kristoff is a highlight.

The fact that “Frozen” was so well self-contained made it a stretch for a sequel, but don’t expect anything but long lines for weeks for this one. Disney knows what it’s doing.

It’s a little more intense, but kids who’ve watched the original on repeat should be OK, although there’s some emotional moments that may bring some tears and questions. Don’t worry; they’ll like it more than a grouchy old movie critic.

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2 stars out of 5

“Frozen 2”