News

Frozen II First Reviews: Olaf Is MVP in a More Complex but Still Magical Sequel

Critics say it isn't quite on par with the first, but its dazzling visuals, laugh-out-loud humor, and catchy songs should make fans happy.

by | November 14, 2019 | Comments

Six years have passed since Frozen became one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of the decade (maybe of all time?). Now Disney has finally made a sequel with the same team involved, and it’s sure to be one of the biggest movies of the year (maybe of all time?).

But is Frozen II worth the wait, or is it just a pointless cash grab? The first reviews of the follow-up aren’t as enthusiastic as they were for its predecessor, but most critics agree it’s a worthy new adventure that should dazzle fans with its stunning animation, laugh-out-loud humor, and fun soundtrack.

Here’s what critics are saying about Frozen II:


How does the sequel compare to the original?

“The sequel is not only better than the 2013 original, but it also improves the original film by adding to its mythology and shining a light on the events of that story in a whole new way.” – Germain Lussier, io9

Frozen II is nominally a slight improvement on its predecessor.” – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Frozen II is as magical as its predecessor.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“It’s a sequel that stands toe-to-toe with the original, which isn’t exactly an easy feat to accomplish.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“If it doesn’t quite match the original, it comes very, very close.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“The film itself is a satisfying but very familiar retread of the first movie.” – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


And how does it compare to other Disney sequels?

“It carries the same lackluster energy of one of Disney’s direct-to-video sequels from times past: 1998’s Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, or 1994’s The Return of Jafar.” – David Jenkins, Little White Lies

Frozen 2 gives off the same lackluster dimness that hand-drawn direct-to-video sequels like Return of Jafar and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas did back in their humbler day.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


Walt Disney Studios
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Will fans enjoy it?

“The characters and music plus the gorgeous visuals are enough to make Frozen II a fun film even if it has none of the staying power of its predecessor.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

Frozen II is anything but a mindless remake. Ironically, Frozen fans may secretly be wishing for a more straightforward rehash.” –  Peter Debruge, Variety


Is the new story worth the wait?

Frozen 2 is crammed with material, most of which works.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“The mythology is somehow both overly complicated and oddly perfunctory. Really, the plot is mainly an excuse for the characters to hang out. And why not?” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“The Frozen team is forced to go bigger, grander, more existential, while still keeping things accessible to children. That’s a really tough balancing act, one Frozen 2 can’t manage.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“A lot goes on but nothing really happens…the only surprising thing about this film is how complex and contrived it is.” – David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“Here’s the one problem with Frozen II: the structure of the story…most of it comes in dense, exposition-heavy chunks that are staggered across the film.” – Germain Lussier, io9

“The narrative is a disastrous mess, to a thoroughly disappointing degree, where character and story aren’t appropriately motivated.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction


What about its message?

Frozen II certainly delivers a solid morality tale without being overly moralizing.” – Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

“Female empowerment and finding strength through sisterhood assuredly remain sturdy tethers. There’s also a hearty ecological message instilled about working with nature, not against it.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“All children should see Frozen 2, not just little girls. Because when Kristoff says, ‘I’m here. What do you need?’ that’s worthy of a discussion with everyone.” – Tania Lamb, Lola Lambchops


Walt Disney Pictures
(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

Is it funny?

“Several times I started crying because I was laughing so hard, and once, I had a hard time catching my breath. This movie was funnier than I ever imagined it would be.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“The sequel is funnier, with Olaf stealing the show… even the most die-hard Olaf critics will find him hilarious in this.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“The biggest problem is that Olaf’s lines are all so funny the audience was laughing too hard for me to hear half of them.” – Germain Lussier, io9

“What surprised me most about the film was just how hilarious they make Olaf. He was great in Frozen, but he absolutely steals the entire film this time around.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“Olaf totally steals the show this time as he grows up to ask the serious questions that every child is thinking.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“This time around, [Olaf is] a scene-stealing, joke-dispensing machine from start to finish, and with a pretty good hit-to-miss ratio.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Every time he opens his mouth I felt like doing cartwheels.” – Charlotte O’Sullivan, London Evening Standard


How are the new characters?

“The newbies have their moments and all together make for a grander experience.” – Germain Lussier, io9

“There’s also a handful of new friends to meet, all of which are welcome, many of which are underserved (Sterling K. Brown is the lone newbie who really gets to leave a mark).” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“New sidekicks like playful wind spirit Gale and Bruni the Salamander are fun and cute but don’t add much to the proceedings.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“There are very few new characters of any consequence.” – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush


Walt Disney Pictures
(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

And the visuals?

“The real power of this movie comes through its gorgeous, often jaw-dropping animation… whatever else can be said, Frozen II is truly beautiful.” – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

“Aesthetically speaking, this a dazzling beauty. The animators have created powerful imagery… highly detailed work [that] always shines through the fray.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Frozen 2’s weirdest, and maybe worst, sin is how routinely unpleasant it is to look at. The animation is oddly bland and inert.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“What Disney hasn’t quite solved is its digitally rendered character designs, subtly altered from the earlier movie but still more akin to computer-generated Bratz dolls.” – Peter Debruge, Variety


More importantly, how’s the music?

“The soundtrack is just as fun as the first Frozen.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“When I tell you that this soundtrack is better than the first one, I know it will be hard for you to believe me. But it is true.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“There really is a song for every mood, and I can see myself listening to the soundtrack on repeat.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“The song-writing team’s contribution to the franchise’s success can scarcely be over-estimated.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

“There’s nothing wrong with these songs, per se, but the effort to replicate their previous success weighs down any possibility of letting them shine on their own.” – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“They all sound fine, and are sung with the usual bombast… and yet, not a half-hour after seeing the movie, I couldn’t call up a single melody.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“The creative team have brought in the D-list for songwriting detail… with every song coming across like over-produced, over-polished album track filler with no hooks and no heart.” – David Jenkins, Little White Lies


Walt Disney Pictures
(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

Does it deliver the next “Let It Go?”

“The ‘Let It Go’ of Frozen II is called ‘Into the Unknown’… it’s guaranteed to entrance exhibitionist preschoolers looking for a new song to belt out at the top of their lungs.” – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

“There isn’t one A-plus standout like ‘Let It Go’ from the first film, but this time around, all the songs feel more uniform quality-wise. There isn’t a dud in the bunch.” – Germain Lussier, io9

“The songs don’t have that same punch this time around… there’s nothing in here that I think will take the world by storm like ‘Let It Go.’” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“Although not a single song in this sequel is likely to have the same iconic reach of songs such as ‘Let It Go’ or ‘Love Is An Open Door,’ there is still plenty here to shout about.” – Linda Marric, HeyUGuys


Is it still a good time for families?

“For the most part, the kids seemed to think Frozen 2 was pretty great — pretty exciting, pretty funny, pretty transporting.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Tip: the youngest Frozen fans might need some warm hugs to get through a fraught final act.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Frozen II is arguably a darker, more mature film… it feels like it’s marketed to a slightly older fanbase than the first – perhaps the kids who grew up loving the initial entry.” – Hannah Lodge, The Beat

Frozen II is the must-see movie for families this year.” – Tania Lamb, Lola Lambchops


Frozen II is in theaters November 22. 

#1

Frozen II (2019)
77%

#1
Adjusted Score: 91.138%
Critics Consensus: Frozen II can't quite recapture the showstopping feel of its predecessor, but it remains a dazzling adventure into the unknown.
Synopsis: Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff,... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Dark Horse Comics book children's TV Song of Ice and Fire Shondaland Valentine's Day Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt television NYCC documentary biography south america Horror psycho Super Bowl foreign Crackle doctor who Sundance TV canceled Columbia Pictures Winners The CW Writers Guild of America war historical drama slashers Lionsgate CBS Drama animated TNT ghosts canceled TV shows 2020 Sci-Fi Rocky jamie lee curtis See It Skip It LGBT Pet Sematary Premiere Dates Film Paramount FXX Cartoon Network Crunchyroll breaking bad festivals spy thriller Travel Channel Mystery Biopics green book Mudbound medical drama Apple TV Plus Black Mirror streaming DC Universe DirecTV GIFs spanish language Emmys SDCC Ellie Kemper game show CNN Sony Pictures ABC spinoff thriller hispanic RT History CW Seed 2015 MTV Rock DGA strong female leads Shudder The Arrangement blockbuster Tomatazos Countdown Photos cults Lifetime comic reboot Amazon Studios President YouTube Premium HBO Max true crime dceu sequel series cooking Polls and Games mutant Academy Awards Superheroe Set visit A24 hist Brie Larson free movies casting San Diego Comic-Con E! HBO cartoon Spectrum Originals quibi Emmy Nominations anime Netflix Christmas movies talk show DC streaming service 007 Election 2019 The Witch Chernobyl TLC IFC Films universal monsters supernatural scary movies Starz dramedy Endgame franchise MCU Epix IFC Comics on TV aliens Warner Bros. revenge transformers serial killer Pixar Paramount Network Captain marvel Rom-Com Hallmark screenings cinemax USA Network TIFF Disney+ Disney Plus Discovery Channel theme song boxoffice Musicals Acorn TV WarnerMedia Animation 71st Emmy Awards BET Esquire Amazon Ghostbusters Disney Channel American Society of Cinematographers stand-up comedy miniseries disaster Hulu Box Office TCA Winter 2020 New York Comic Con Calendar Amazon Prime Video Walt Disney Pictures politics Holidays video VICE YA Disney Marvel Apple TV+ science fiction nature blaxploitation award winner 20th Century Fox Black History Month WGN Ovation Freeform period drama MSNBC OWN Awards Tour Video Games Winter TV GLAAD Podcast crossover Baby Yoda Watching Series ratings political drama dogs ESPN First Reviews Thanksgiving werewolf NBC Infographic Awards Fox News Interview Hallmark Christmas movies Turner Star Trek discovery binge Apple Pop TV Year in Review USA Summer TCM romance comics Syfy Sundance Trailer vampires Star Wars Universal Food Network Fall TV Grammys robots Lifetime Christmas movies Creative Arts Emmys Spike TV Kids & Family zero dark thirty Avengers Opinion cars ITV based on movie Nat Geo Character Guide The Walking Dead Mary Tyler Moore Logo Rocketman teaser Netflix Pride Month indie Elton John Quiz YouTube ABC Family anthology Funimation TBS tv talk zombie Sundance Now kids Trivia Pirates composers Vudu Nominations Peacock witnail Mary poppins Comedy Lucasfilm docudrama BBC America spain name the review Arrowverse Musical National Geographic spider-man sag awards GoT harry potter dc First Look Extras TruTV crime thriller Christmas Country Schedule 45 El Rey reviews Toys CMT unscripted 21st Century Fox adaptation Spring TV Oscars psychological thriller Cosplay sports Classic Film travel justice league Fantasy latino Disney Plus technology 2018 Western social media Marvel Studios movies Heroines A&E zombies OneApp DC Comics Pop toy story batman 24 frames The Purge APB Martial Arts YouTube Red directors cancelled TV shows christmas movies what to watch cancelled TV series CBS All Access Tumblr Music Red Carpet History Television Academy VH1 cancelled FOX Trophy Talk crime drama golden globes natural history TV Land Comedy Central facebook space LGBTQ 2016 Britbox Masterpiece screen actors guild Reality Tarantino movie Mindy Kaling adventure Superheroes versus Tubi Cannes diversity X-Men Nickelodeon Marvel Television Disney streaming service SXSW Family Women's History Month richard e. Grant Best and Worst PaleyFest Showtime renewed TV shows finale TV renewals Marathons Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dragons halloween joker Comic Book 2017 singing competition FX TCA 2017 comiccon sitcom Bravo Binge Guide cancelled television Action Adult Swim Holiday independent SundanceTV Mary Poppins Returns AMC BBC cats cops elevated horror Anna Paquin Film Festival Turner Classic Movies mockumentary Sneak Peek romantic comedy Teen Certified Fresh Reality Competition PBS game of thrones police drama Amazon Prime rotten movies we love TCA RT21 E3 Stephen King crime FX on Hulu