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SYFY WIRE review roundup

Frozen II: Critics warm up to sequel as gorgeous, fun, somewhat safe adventure

By James Comtois
Frozen II characters

The time has come for critics to build a consensus and let go of those early reviews for Frozen II. Most early reviews for the sequel to the 2013 megahit warmly welcome the reunion of these beloved characters, with lush visuals and a bombastic story — even if Disney chose to play it a bit safe with the animated adventure film.

With the sequel trending around a very solid 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, even the lukewarm reviews admit that there’s much to like in the animated children’s film, and the worst that the negative reviews say is that the film is calculated and lacks some of the charm and fun of the original.

Among its champions are Io9’s Germain Lussier, who raves that Frozen II “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.”

“As with snowflakes, no two are alike, and this gorgeous, glittering reunion of siblings Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) proudly flaunts its own identity, even while taking care to incorporate so much of what worked about the original — like a steady stream of wisecracks from wonderstruck snowperson Olaf (Josh Gad),” writes Peter Debruge in his glowing review for Variety.  

Frozen 2 will satisfy fans of the original as it offers big laughs and even bigger songs, and if it doesn't quite match the original, it comes very, very close,” writes Ian Sandwell in his four-star review for DigitalSpy.

Over at The Wrap, Alonso Duralde is mixed-to-positive, admitting that although Frozen II “is a sequel that exists not because there was more story to be told but because there was more money to be made,” there’s still “a lot to like here, from a rich palette of autumn colors to a potentially provocative subplot that will teach children that nations need to acknowledge and atone for their historical sins.”

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw was also mixed (albeit on the side of positive) in this three-star review, calling Frozen II “an entertaining revival, though a thaw is beginning to set in.” He warned that alas, there’s no real sequel to the original’s massively popular anthemic song, “Let it Go.” 

But not all reviewers were fully enchanted. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy opines that Frozen II “has everything you would expect — catchy new songs, more time with easy-to-like characters, striking backdrops, cute little jokes, a voyage of discovery plot and female empowerment galore — except the unexpected,” adding that “Disney has been careful, cautious, conscientious and committed to continuing the franchise with the utmost fidelity to the original, resulting in a sequel that can’t miss with its massive constituency and will make another mint, but at the same time can’t help but feel predictable, safe and beholden to formulaic rules.”

In his two-and-a-half-star review for USA Today, Brian Truitt laments: “If you were holding out hope that Frozen 2 could equal or surpass the original phenomenon, it’s time to let it go,” adding that the sequel “doesn’t have the same pizzazz as the original.”

Richard Lawson’s review for Vanity Fair is particularly chilling, warning that “a dire case of cynical sequelitis plagues Frozen 2. The directors — Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck — and writers — Lee and Allison Schroeder — grasp for a new mythos to match the original’s, but come up woefully short.” Brrrrrr!

Anyway, audiences will get the chance to see for themselves whether Frozen II freezes or warms their hearts when it blasts its way into theatres Nov. 22.