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. 


Frozen II (2019)

Adjusted Score: 91.335%
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

cars independent toy story Sci-Fi Amazon Prime Video Hulu concert Walt Disney Pictures cooking 99% Apple TV Plus VH1 documentaries Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Mary Poppins Returns reboot franchise best hist Comic Book mutant Black Mirror MSNBC The Academy Song of Ice and Fire Musicals Paramount Network USA adaptation christmas movies spy thriller Red Carpet Sundance Disney streaming service Martial Arts BBC One TCA Creative Arts Emmys Trophy Talk boxoffice TruTV classics Best and Worst romantic comedy miniseries The Arrangement Rom-Com dceu canceled E! Ghostbusters ghosts award winner stand-up comedy die hard renewed TV shows TBS thriller Food Network dramedy 21st Century Fox ABC Family New York Comic Con Spike versus Peacock Britbox Tomatazos Family 2020 Nominations Awards rotten robots Dark Horse Comics Lifetime YA serial killer LGBTQ Sony Pictures science fiction dc finale Shudder Logo San Diego Comic-Con Television Critics Association Starz Interview Brie Larson DC Comics Kids & Family cops Apple true crime HBO Go Box Office films talk show worst movies sitcom Polls and Games based on movie Animation Tarantino Alien MTV Warner Bros. Baby Yoda Superheroes Fantasy cinemax golden globes chucky festival LGBT comiccon ITV First Reviews Fox Searchlight Lucasfilm deadpool 2017 police drama 45 spain anthology Funimation CNN WarnerMedia politics Superheroe El Rey First Look Freeform elevated horror Pop ratings Election Netflix game show The CW venice OneApp stop motion remakes unscripted nature spider-man stoner Video Games GoT theme song kids Ovation indie crossover rt archives jamie lee curtis Marvel ESPN hollywood Year in Review superhero Crunchyroll 20th Century Fox Hallmark cults Heroines comedies YouTube Musical Emmy Nominations Discovery Channel justice league The Walking Dead BAFTA Emmys Anna Paquin directors facebook free movies nfl emmy awards Nat Geo CBS All Access Thanksgiving Western Grammys TCM Trivia aliens video on demand Television Academy CW Seed Infographic composers Marathons sequel dogs blockbuster werewolf Film Festival Mudbound halloween tv Crackle Certified Fresh 71st Emmy Awards DC streaming service Apple TV+ romance Quiz streaming A24 french CBS Holidays comic books Rocketman cancelled screen actors guild Mary Tyler Moore comics docudrama movie CMT MCU Adult Swim Netflix Christmas movies vampires See It Skip It Amazon Studios space 24 frames cancelled TV shows 2019 Valentine's Day crime Set visit spinoff Ellie Kemper breaking bad harry potter witnail Syfy scorecard Rock video Pop TV HBO Max mission: impossible psychological thriller A&E laika fast and furious GLAAD SXSW Film Women's History Month singing competition Disney foreign movies criterion 2015 book zero dark thirty Black History Month TCA Awards period drama news black TLC transformers political drama Avengers Columbia Pictures ID WGN television mockumentary RT History Cannes spanish Comedy Trailer 2018 name the review USA Network Extras Spectrum Originals GIFs Winners PBS Reality Competition Teen Summer DC Universe Music Star Wars Writers Guild of America TCA 2017 Mary poppins hispanic twilight AMC indiana jones DGA NBC Countdown BBC America child's play Shondaland BET dark Action Vudu Podcast Fall TV Amazon Prime President Nickelodeon Turner Tumblr Tubi animated IFC Films VOD TV Land Spring TV anime BET Awards APB E3 nbcuniversal Biopics social media Classic Film Mindy Kaling what to watch technology sports OWN archives canceled TV shows Chernobyl Drama satire disaster war Premiere Dates rotten movies we love cartoon teaser Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Opinion boxing biography Country latino football crime drama PaleyFest parents TIFF natural history Christmas slashers strong female leads japanese zombie Fox News DirecTV Cartoon Network sag awards discovery binge james bond Comedy Central doctor who Marvel Television RT21 NYCC FXX Photos italian VICE National Geographic Oscars TCA Winter 2020 zombies revenge Sundance TV Star Trek Hallmark Christmas movies asian-american Bravo historical drama batman TNT 72 Emmy Awards fresh FOX Showtime FX Schedule History Pixar universal monsters casting Winter TV Character Guide all-time Academy Awards richard e. Grant Disney Channel SundanceTV spanish language X-Men Hear Us Out critics PlayStation HBO The Purge cancelled TV series psycho Pirates Toys cats Elton John comic Masterpiece American Society of Cinematographers sequels Pride Month cancelled television Cosplay 4/20 Awards Tour 2016 game of thrones blaxploitation series scary movies a nightmare on elm street medical drama Watching Series diversity Paramount supernatural Disney+ Disney Plus south america 007 Lifetime Christmas movies worst Universal travel Amazon halloween The Witch Arrowverse festivals YouTube Red Epix Stephen King tv talk obituary quibi Lionsgate Binge Guide TV renewals Travel Channel Endgame Captain marvel SDCC Horror Acorn TV Esquire reviews FX on Hulu IFC Sneak Peek Comics on TV australia TV Sundance Now Disney Plus adventure green book ABC children's TV YouTube Premium Pet Sematary Mystery joker dragons Super Bowl documentary Rocky toronto Calendar screenings BBC Turner Classic Movies Reality Holiday crime thriller Marvel Studios