Friday, November 22

Frozen II Review

Frozen II

Dir: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, and Alfred Molina

Happily, Ever After. Disney has used this sentiment to build an illustrious career of animated feature films filled with fairy godmothers, poison apples, singing mermaids, and, in the case of “Frozen”, a magical snow queen. All these stories come with enchantment, romance, and their fair share of evil villains, but they also have near-perfect happy endings. 

“Frozen”, released in 2013, ended with two sisters reunited, the kingdom of Arendelle saved from eternal winter, the snowman Olaf finding a family, and every young audience member singing “Let it Go” for the next 6 years. It was as perfect an ending as one would expect from Disney.

So why continue the story of Elsa and Anna? “Frozen II” doesn’t need to exist but it does, and the result is a better than expected tale of growing up, becoming mature, and dealing with change. 

Arendelle has found peace with Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) in power, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are growing closer in their budding relationship, and Olaf (Josh Gad) is soaking up human life while learning as much as possible. But Elsa’s magical power grows stronger and echoes from the past start to call for answers. Arendelle is threatened and Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf must travel to an enchanted kingdom to find a solution.

“Frozen II” does a great job of utilizing its strongest assets which is the cast of characters. The story makes that a point of emphasis, initially, by focusing on the interconnected storylines the characters all have with one another. Specifically, Elsa and Anna’s connection as sisters, but also as powerful women in leadership positions, is more prominent throughout the film. Olaf, who mostly plays the comedic relief, is also provided with more matured character traits that assist in both offering levity but also insight with the characters along their journey. Even Kristoff is provided with more to do to assist Anna and Elsa through the major changes happening in the film.

The narrative works best when the theme of dealing with change is at the forefront. Sequels struggle with showing how characters grow, we become so familiar with great characters in the first film that often the sequel fails to offer the conflict that allows the characters to mature and handle change. “Frozen II” keeps that in mind as Elsa searches for answers about her past and gaining an understanding of how to handle her powers. The real admirable focus, surprisingly, is the development of Anna who must handle the more realistic, world-weary struggles of growing up and taking control of the complications that arise in life. 

Unfortunately, the general journey of the story, the trip into the enchanted autumnal land with walking giant stone people, progresses in dull and predictable ways. While this shouldn’t be a surprise for an animated Disney feature, the progression just falls flat as the story follows the same familiar fairytale formula. Also, the plot introduction of an indigenous forest group in the enchanted land, who were betrayed in the past, offers an opportunity to introduce elements associated with the trauma found throughout history (heavy material but important subject matter conversations for young viewers) but it never follows through on these points. However, the composition of these environments, the dense fog-laden forest and one exquisite scene involving a water horse, keep the story interesting to look at.

There is a lot for young people to enjoy in “Frozen II”, while many of the songs don’t reach the heights of “Let it Go”, there are few notable songs, specifically a number that feels straight out the ‘80s, that will please. Still, the heart established by the characters and the focus on maturity and change keeps this sequel interesting and enjoyable.  If “Frozen” was about gaining the confidence to “let it go”, “Frozen II” is about the process of “letting go” and grasping the change that is in front of you. That’s a good lesson to share.

Monte’s Rating

3.25 out of 5.00

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