Unsettled by the voice calling to her from the North, Elsa ventures out of Arendelle to learn more about the origin of her powers. She is joined by Anna, Kristof, Sven, and Olaf as together they piece together lost history and work to save a kingdom overtaken by this mysterious magic.
Spoiler Level: Light
The wind blows a little bit colder,
and we’re all getting older,
and the clouds are moving on with
every Autumn breeze
With six years in between the release of Frozen and its sequel Frozen II, those who were first introduced to the series as children are now starting to transition into high school and early adulthood. Frozen II takes advantage of this by aging the series ever so slightly. Everything about this movie dives deeper, be it into Arendalle history, into our impact on the world around us, or into the emotion that drives us. The themes are familiar, but more mature. Mixed with beautiful compositions, heartwarming new characters, and a show of truly stellar animation, the formula that worked so well for the first film almost works as well for the second.
The most notable difference is that there are fewer surprises. There is no Hans of the Southern Isles plot twist. There is no unconventional act of true love. From top to bottom, it is designed to be clear and comfortable, even in the many moments of uncertainty.
Frozen II instead works a longer story line, keeping it transparent throughout—and with good reason. Given that the film focuses primarily on the heavy topic of societal reparation, it is understandable why there might be a desire to eliminate any kind of uncertainty or alternative interpretations. The film takes audiences step-by-step through the history of Arendalle’s colonization of the local indigenous people. Though it may present the situation in an overly simplistic manner, it is the first necessary step in creating empathy around the Thanksgiving table and will give people of all ages, especially middle grade children, the language with which to have deeper discussions on the topic.
At the same time, the film continues to emphasize the importance of love, acceptance, and patience through the further development of Anna and Elsa’s relationship. Having already experienced so much growth in the original film, it’s difficult to craft another story that has an equally satisfying character arc, but Frozen II just barely manages to scratch that itch. As the sisters learn more about their history, they also learn more about themselves and each other. It’s just enough to keep adult audiences entertained, especially since Kristoff has been demoted to stagnant comedic relief and Olaf is being crushed under the weight of his own existentialism.
The ladies really carry the show, exploring heavy story lines that might come as something of a shock to those familiar with the original. To quote the little girl who sat beside me in the theater, “That was so sad.” And she was right. Anna has an entire musical number about the grief that comes with the death of a loved one. Elsa relives and adopts the guilt from her parents’ demise. While there were moments of fear and loss in the original, Frozen II takes the time to really digest them. It’s a fantastic way to mature the story. However, those with highly sensitive children may want to hold off on this one until it can be watched from the safety of home.
The entire movie is about transformation and the pain that often accompanies it. While the little ones will certainly enjoy it (Olaf makes certain of that, with plenty of goofs to go around), it is a movie that is really going to hit home with those of us who are going through transitional periods in our lives—a middle schooler entering her freshman year, a college graduate trying to find his first job, a new parent, or a veteran parent with new challenges. Frozen II is just as much for us as it is for all the little Annas and Elsas bouncing up and down in their chairs.
The sequel to Disney’s Frozen could not possibly live up to the hype of the original, and so it doesn’t try. While the story maintains its familiarity by holding true to the same themes, it takes audiences on a brand new adventure that delves deeper into the curiosities of a largely unexplored world.
Frozen II: Clear and Comfortable
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Music - 10/1010/10
- Production - 10/1010/10
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