The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Was Not Angry With This Sequel

The Angry Birds Movie 2 Poster

 

Sequels to animated films are seldom as good as the first movie.  Many times the story was not needed, or the masterpiece is diluted for a gimmick that just doesn’t work.  Fortunately, there are some that have paved the way for the potential to add to the story, continuing the world we love, but at the same time making a movie stand on its own.  Tonight, Sony Pictures continues to try the luck with their surprise success of Angry Birds and see if they can get another round of bills to line the pockets.  And for reviewers like me, we are back in the trenches to see how it fairs and do our best to highlight the observations. So let’s get in there and review once more as I take o:

 

Movie: Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)

Director:

Thurop Van Orman

Writers:

Peter Ackerman (screenplay by), Eyal Podell

Stars:

Jason SudeikisJosh GadLeslie Jones

 

 

LIKES:

Voice Acting

Fun

Funny

Stories Intertwining

Good Morals

Cute

Good Use of Characters

Quick

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little too political at times

Not Quite As Unique

A Little Too simplified

Trailers Ruined Much

 

SUMMARY:

  Like the first film, the movie’s cast really shines taking the pun filled writing, simplistic dialogue, and joke filled lines and making it work.  Sudeikis as Red is still the sarcastic champion we loved, Josh Gad comes back in all his adorable energy and opera like singing, and Danny McBride is still the same loud, gruff voice that often fools people into thinking he is Seth Rogen. But the new gang to join adds their own spice to the feathery/leathery cast.  Jones has got her usual energetic motions, Sterling K brown is posh and yet funny, and Awkwafina is the same carefree slacker that somehow works in a variety of settings.  It’s an awesome blend of talent that manages to add some dynamic flow to bring the characters to life.  Past the acting, the story is along the same lines as the last one, a very fun, straightforward adventures with a few good moral lessons baked in to give it another layer.  Taking two stories to try the break up the linearity, the movie should move enough to keep everyone’s attentions, all while jamming in enough fun and laughter to have you rolling in the seats.  Yes, like the first installment the film is all about captivating on the cuteness and jokes to get its gimmicks out and enjoyment.  Yet, the smartest component for me, is that the movie manages to utilize most of its characters very well.  Red and the squad still get adequate screen time despite how many characters they introduced.  And the new characters still get used well, allowing for maximum merchandising.

  In regards to some areas of improvements for me, well it starts with the predictability of the film.  The movie suffers from the simplicity they strived for, not doing well with pushing the boundaries of unique or creativity.  Sure, the app to movie transition gets props, but unlike the Disney and DreamWorks group, they have not quite adapted well in the earth-shattering stories or worlds that the bigger studios dream up.  Instead, the movie tries to push a few political boundaries, which is a noble challenge, but got a little too extreme for this reviewer as the various movements we hear about get their own skin in this movie. It still fits well, but it just wasn’t necessary and I would have liked to see the energy transferred into the creativity mode instead.  Yet, the biggest area that I did not enjoy was how much the trailers ruined the film for me.  Many parts have been not only revealed, but smeared in your face with the multiple airings. While still funny, I think there could have been a lot of surprise and kick to it had it not been so advertised. As such, if you and your kids have seen most of the trailers, you have seen much of the movie as there is not quite as much runtime as I had expected.

 

 

The VERDICT:

            The movie is a decent follow up to a movie that was surprisingly deep and fun.  It still has the same colorful energy, fun atmosphere and voice acting that just capitalizes on the silliness to be had.  The story, while layered, still is simple for most to follow and the characters are utilized beautifully for all fans to enjoy and get the most out of the characters in this world.  Yet, Angry Birds Universe is still a shell of some of the worlds built in the animation land, and struggles to break the creative barrier and expand upon its world. It’s a little too simple in terms of movie overall, and thanks to the trailer ruining much, the film holds little in coming to the theater outside of seeing the predictable ending.  Still, it’s a fun adventure to behold this weekend with your little tykes and smile wide at their delight in the film.  Otherwise, hold out for the home release my friends. 

 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5