But "Into the Unknown" also feels like a high hit a little too early in the narrative, and that fear bears out once the adventure actually gets going. The whole crew heads out to the forest to support Elsa on her quest, and when they pierce the mist they find a stranded community made up of people from both Northuldra and Arendelle. It's a haunting scene that's quickly interrupted by some Olaf antics and a throwback-style love song for Kristoff (and Sven). Thank goodness Broadway star Groff gets a chance to belt this time around, even if the sequence is decidedly goofy in a way that feels at odds with everything save for Olaf.
Ah, yes, Olaf. One of Frozen's strengths is its restraint in using Olaf, who doesn't show up until halfway through the movie. Here, he's given center stage -- to the delight of children and agony of any adult in a 10-mile radius. At the screening I attended we were told to stick around for a post-credits scene. Guess what? It's more Olaf, recounting the plot of the movie we all had just seen.
Frozen 2 is quick to veer into sensory overload, touching on various allegories without ever committing to one. There are nods to climate change and the destruction of indigenous people's lands, but ultimately it ends up slightly tweaking the themes of the first film. Elsa, in gleaning her family's history, must come to accept the full extent of her powers; Anna must learn to love Elsa for who she is.
Every so often, a moment in Frozen 2 cuts through the noise of the stilted dialogue and overwrought backstory. The animation fractures into art deco crystals, and the score hits on a soaring strain. Elsa tames a spirit in the form of a horse made out of water. But too often this sequel just proves that sometimes simplicity is stronger than a whole lot of lore.