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What The Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Are Saying About Frozen 2

The latest chapter in Disney's chilliest saga is warming the hearts of critics.

Reviews are rolling in for Frozen 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to the Mouse House's 2013 instant classic Frozen, and the news is good. While reviewers generally agree that the continuation doesn't quite hit the heights of the original, the flick is still being hailed as a worthy addition to the Disney library.

Frozen 2 had a high bar to live up to; the original flick not only won over the hearts of fans worldwide, it also added a modern-day standard to the annals of Disney tunes with the ubiquitous "Let It Go." The song functioned as a character-defining soliloquy for Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose mysterious magical ability to create ice and snow had been at the center of a childhood incident — the accidental injuring of her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) — which had led to a period of exile from her kingdom of Arendelle.

Upon her return, Elsa was kept separate from her sister, whose memory of the incident had been magically erased — but the situation was complicated by the deaths of their parents at sea during a vicious storm. When Elsa's increasingly unstable powers asserted themselves during her coronation as Queen of Arendelle, she isolated herself in a fortress of ice, inadvertently causing an eternal winter to descend upon the kingdom.

In an effort to remedy the situation, Anna enlisted the help of ice merchant Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer buddy Sven, and cheerful snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) to find her sister and break the spell. The film ended on an upbeat note, with Anna and Elsa reunited and the latter's powers largely under control — but screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee had more story to tell. Frozen 2 deals with Elsa's quest to find out exactly where her powers came from, so that she may better understand them in case they should ever pose a threat to Arendelle again.

The entire original cast is along for the ride, and the flick even sports a potential successor to "Let It Go" in the ballad "Into the Unknown," which is already picking up steam thanks to a cover version by Panic! At the Disco. All of the pieces are in place for Disney to register another massive smash hit with Frozen 2 — and if the flick's critical reception is any indication, it should have no trouble putting Hollywood's recent box office woes on ice.

How does Frozen 2 stack up to the original?

First off, it should be noted that crafting a worthwhile sequel to a beloved animated musical film has historically been a dicey proposition for Disney, which was astutely noted by the New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski in his review. "Over the past 25 years, the studio has released a heap of direct-to-video follow-ups to its biggest hits... All of them have been forgettable at best," he wrote. "But the curse has been lifted. The second Frozen is even better than the first, with dazzling animation and a more mature and tuneful score. Call it The Icicle Strikes Back."

We're not going to call it that, because we don't want it to gain even the slightest bit of traction, but we appreciate the sentiment. CBR's Brandon Zachary was among a handful of critics who agreed that Frozen 2 represented a step up from the original, writing that the film "breaks from the traditional Disney film structure, delivering a surprisingly reflective and decidedly feminist fantasy epic. It not only feels original from anything else Disney has released in recent years, [it] stands above the previous Frozen as one of the studio's most interesting and compelling films."

Even among those critics who doled out positive notices for Frozen 2, though, many couldn't help but note that its decidedly darker narrative felt like a bit too well-worn of an approach. "The film is stronger in terms of character interaction and themes than it is in terms of telling a story, settling on a weirdly generic 'dark sequel' template that barely bothers to focus on specifics," wrote Scott Mendelson of Forbes. "That said, it's rarely less than entertaining and is a visual knockout."

Most of the movie's positive reviews, however, offered largely unqualified praise — not only for the returning cast and a story that resolutely refuses to simply rehash that of the first film, but for Frozen 2's willingness to expand on its predecessor's themes. "[The film] lives up to the incredibly large hype that's surrounding it," wrote Business Insider's Jason Guerrasio. "Does the sequel try to capitalize on inside jokes and themes from the first movie? Absolutely. Its major flaw is that it thinks it has to remind the audience that there was a previous movie. But there's one thing Frozen 2 doubles down on from the first, and I'm happy it did: its firm stance on individuality."

Of course, not all critics were so taken with the flick. While its negative notices generally had praise for Frozen 2's dazzling animation, critics who panned the film mostly did so due to what they saw as a muddled and undercooked story. "Narratively, Frozen 2 is a mess, an avalanche of half-formed ideas which might have been more suited to a spin-off novel or a video game," wrote Nicholas Barber of the BBC. "When your story relies on snow statues coming to life at convenient moments and acting out arguments that took place 30 years earlier, that's probably a sign that your screenplay could do with another two or three drafts."

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy, meanwhile, was in the distinct minority in opining that the movie felt like an obligatory, cash-grabby sequel rather than a story that needed to be told. "When you've made an original film that became the biggest-grossing animated movie of all time... any temptation to mess with success would be deep-sixed in an instant," he wrote. "So, yes, 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."

For the most part, though, Frozen 2 was received warmly (sorry, we couldn't resist), with Charlotte O'Sullivan of the London Evening Standard summing it up best. "It's hard to carp, given the amount of technical invention, not to mention wit and emotion, crammed into every set-piece," she wrote. "[Frozen 2 is] going to make a lot of money. It will also have millions of people counting the hours till Frozen 3. I. Just. Can't. Wait."

Grab a sweater, Disney faithful: Frozen 2 hits the big screen on November 22.