Frozen II (2019) is the long-awaited sequel to Disney’s 2013 musical hit that took the world by storm with its showstopping theme “Let It Go” performed by Broadway star Idina Menzel (Wicked). The film features the return of Menzel to the role of Queen Elsa and actress Kristen Bell (The Good Place) to the role of her sister Princess Anna. Others who returned are Jonathan Drew Groff (Glee) and Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast).
Director Chris Buck also returns to helm the project with writer-director Jennifer Lee at his side. With them, composer Christophe Beck returns to score while Robert and Kristen Lopez return in attempt to recreate the wonder that was the aforementioned theme of the previous film.
Three years after the events of the first film, Elsa is stalked by a mysterious voice that calls to her. Having inadvertently awakened the elemental spirits, the Queen of Arendelle along with her sister and her friends must travel to the heart of the Enchanted Forrest and past the mystical wall of mist to unravel the truth of about their kingdom’s past.
Avatar: The Legend of Elsa moves away from the romance and trademark-Disney drama of the original, instead opting to reinvigorate the sequel with a fresh breath of action and adventure. Frozen II felt like it was written by a dungeon master who wanted to adapt the original modern classic into a campaign for Dungeons & Dragons – adapting more of Scandinavian and early Germanic folklore to weave a tale akin to that of fantasy epics.
True to that, the film forgoes the self-referential humor and meta-commentary on the Disney princess formula in favor of a flavor more akin to that of Hercules (1997) or The Lion King (1994) – a true-to-form hero’s journey of which both main characters must embark on.
Menzel seamlessly reembodies the character of Elsa, who has a more active role in this film. The Queen of Arendelle was undoubtedly an instant fan-favorite after (and even before) the first Frozen. Despite being the crux of that first story, most her character development occurred in musical introspection and as a spectator to her sister Anna’s rise-to-action, which inspired her to… well, let it go – for real that time.
But in Frozen II, she’s brought to the forefront of story so much more than last time. Now as an active protagonist, Elsa drives the story in a different way. Instead of merely reacting to what’s happening – she activity chooses to drive headfirst into the unknown to find out the truth of her magic and to save her kingdom. This change made her a far more interesting character, so much more than she already was.
In contrast, her sister Anna, who Bell did a fantastic job voicing again, experiences a more internal struggle than she did the last time. She faces the fear of potentially losing her sister again and, while I can’t say that she’s been downplayed to be as passive to the events as Elsa was in the first film, Anna does take a more reactive stance to the events – being pushed in directions in ways that she has no control over.
A low point of the film in terms of characters is the sequel’s use of Kristoff. The character has always played a supporting role to Anna’s character but despite this, he’s always been useful to both Anna and the plot itself. But in Frozen II, he could be written out completely and it wouldn’t change a darn thing. While this might have been necessary for Anna’s arc from a narrative standpoint, it’s an injustice, to say the least, to a character who’s relatively likable in his own way.
Despite being a little predictable, the film as a whole tries to be a little more complex and mature with its plot – presumably to grow with the audience it found in the original. There’s nothing wrong with predictability or complexity on its own and it certainly doesn’t determine a plot’s quality more than execution does. But I would say that, despite multiple fumbles and unreasonable conveniences, the film was, overall, understandable and entertaining enough to be considered passable in my book.
A strong point in favor of Frozen II is most definitely the film’s undeniably attractive visuals. In terms of costume and character design, I would as far as to say that the sequel holds that above the original. The animation, most of all, delivers a stylistic yet life-like aesthetic to the film with its great attention to visual details. It totally compliments the more action-driven and visually-intricate scenes, which were arguably the best parts of the movie.
As important as the plot is in Disney films is the soundtrack. Topping the original Frozen‘s soundtrack, which included instant hits such as Let It Go and For The First Time In Forever, was always going to be near impossible task. But while Into The Unknown and Some Things Never Change weren’t as instantly catchy as those hits, they did successfully capture the themes and emotions of the film.
A personal favorite was Show Yourself (performed by Menzel and Evan Rachel Wood) – the song that signaled the film’s final-third. It was equal parts somber and powerful and it was the perfect summation of Elsa’s character arc.
On the bottom of the pile is Kristoff’s Lost in the Woods, a rock ballad that would’ve much more significant if the whole proposal subplot was given a little more importance. And because it it wasn’t, the song felt out of place. Add to that its visuals, which were awkward to say the least.
Overall, the soundtrack to Frozen II had a lot of hits and a number of misses. But despite the lack the catchiness compared to that of the original’s, most of them do well enough to enhance specific moments and show an introspective look into the character’s emotions but not much else.
It’s not the sequel one would expect. In many ways, it’s a far cry from the original in both good and bad ways. Frozen II features a soundtrack that fails to deliver the same impact as its original. It misuses some major characters and brushes them off to the sidelines as a means to an end. But the film does do well in its world-building – expending the pre-established lore in interesting ways – and in its development of its main characters. While unnecessary, it was still very much entertaining.
What were your thoughts on the sequel? Do you agree with the review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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