By Shannon McGrew
FROZEN 2 is the much anticipated animated follow up to 2013’s Frozen, from director Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. The film centers around Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven as they leave Arendelle in search of an enchanted forest that may hold the dark secrets surrounding the origins of Elsa’s powers. The film includes voice acting from Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Evan Rachel Wood (Iduna), Sterling K. Brown (Ryder) and Josh Gad (Olaf).
To best describe the plot, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In ‘Frozen’, Elsa feared her powers were too much in the world. In FROZEN 2, she must hope they are enough.”
I would say that in the grand scheme of Disney films, I’m in the minority when it comes to my dislike of Frozen. I can’t exactly put my finger on why that is, but since its release in 2013, I’ve gradually become more and more put off by the film. I’m sure you are wondering why I bring all of this up and the answer is because I didn’t have high hopes for the sequel and made the assumption that I would be left feeling just as disappointed as I did with the first one. That said, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my expectations for FROZEN 2.
FROZEN 2 is a much darker film than its predecessor. Though filled with ample amounts of magic and wonder, a lot of the story is actually quite grounded in reality with situations that many of us can easily relate to. The film begins with Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) feeling much more comfortable with her powers since we first saw her in Frozen but yearning for more than just being the Queen of Arendelle. She begins to hear a mysterious voice singing and beckoning her and she decides to go investigate after an unexplainable event happens in Arendelle. Remembering the story her parents told her and Anna as children about an enchanted forest, they, along with Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf, decide to go on a journey to locate the forest. Once found, Elsa and Anna come into contact with the Northuldra tribe, as well as a group of Arendellian soldiers, who have all been missing after being trapped in the forest for decades. As Elsa begins to investigate the reasoning behind this while searching for the unknown singing voice, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) begins to show just how overprotective she is of Elsa; so much so, that it starts to have an effect on her relationship with Kristoff. As Elsa dives deeper into the mystifying circumstances surrounding the forest, Anna must learn to truly “let go” and trust that Elsa knows what is best for herself.
Besides the darker tones and themes presented in the film (which I will get to in a minute), I really appreciated how the movie, for the most part, respectfully featured indigenous people when portraying the Northuldra tribe (which you can read more about here). I really loved the inclusion of the tribe especially in regards to them being the ones to educate Elsa, Anna, and the rest about the magic that nature possesses and the respect that it deserves. I felt like the presence of the Northuldra tribe really elevated the story and gave viewers insight into another culture, by respecting the Sámi leaders in which they were portraying for the film. My only issue with this is I wish actors that were from indigenous communities were given the chance to do the voice acting for Northuldra tribe instead of falling back on Hollywood names.
In terms of the visuals and themes, this is another area of the film that I felt truly shined. As with most Disney animated films, the animation is impeccable with sweeping shots that fully immerse the viewer into the world surrounding Arendelle. Just as there are plenty of bright colors to elicit happiness and joy, there are also gray and ice blue tones to elicit feelings such as isolation and despair. Themes such as depression, guilt, acceptance, and being true to oneself are showcased in a way that is easily digestible for viewers while also making sense to the plot. I didn’t feel like any of the themes were used gratuitously but instead felt like they were used to show growth and understanding within our characters. When I think of change, I always look at it as the calm before the storm and that was something I felt was portrayed brilliantly with Elsa and Anna’s intertwining story plots. They both had to face their demons, in a way, which resulted in a story that felt much more powerful and impactful. Plus, the film has giants and who doesn’t love seeing rock giants stomping about?
All in all, I think FROZEN 2 really brings the story of Elsa and Anna’s relationship full circle, making it much deeper and emotional. However, the film isn’t all doom and gloom, as Olfa (voiced by Josh Gad), mainly, along with Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), gave us some much needed comic relief. Honestly, I actually thought Olaf stole the show with the fire-lizard being a close second (you’ll understand more once you see the movie). None of the music is as mind-numbing as “Let It Go” (thank God), though the film does take a jab at itself which I appreciated. That said, I do think fans will enjoy Elsa’s impressive performance of “Into the Unknown” as well as Kristoff’s hilarious performance of “Lost in the Woods.” FROZEN 2 might not win everyone over with its use of somber tones and darker imagery, but there’s something to be said about a kid’s film that shows how positive change and acceptance of oneself is something to never ignore. FROZEN 2 arrives in theaters Friday, November 22, 2019.
(All Images Courtesy of Disney)