Trusted reindeer Sven and curious snowman Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) are up for an adventure in "Frozen 2." They join Kristoff, Anna and Elsa on a journey into the unknown in search of answers about the past.
The original Frozen film captured the imagination
with quirky and interesting characters, a charming world full of magic and
lore, and catchy songs that would be belted out with gusto from tiny mouths in
countless backseats around the world. All of that is missing in Frozen II.
Nevertheless, this sequel is entertaining in its own right; it just doesn’t
live up to expectations.
As children, Anna (voiced by Hadley Gannaway) and Elsa (voiced
by Mattea Conforti), were told a story by their father about an enchanted
forest where a tribe of people known as the Northuldra lived. The Arendellians
coexisted with them peacefully until war broke out unexpectedly one day. Only
Anna and Elsa’s father escaped the skirmish before the enchanted forest sealed
itself and everyone inside away from the rest of the world behind a magical and
As adults, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced by
Idina Menzel), adjust to their now mundane lives. However, Elsa can’t ignore a
voice on the wind that calls to her randomly but constantly. She decides to
follow it, and her sister and friends, including Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff)
and Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), follow Elsa. Together, they discover new lands,
new friends, and an old family history that will surprise them all.
Frozen II’s plot is incomprehensible, but that doesn’t matter when the film is taken as a whole. Why Elsa is only hearing the call now or why she has the power to penetrate the fog of the enchanted forest is never explained. Other phenomena – like elemental powers coming out of nowhere to push the Arendellians out of their home – are only partially explained. And that partial explanation doesn’t make sense in retrospect. A major character also goes through a significant change, but there’s no setup for the change, and there’s no expectation for the transformation either, so when it happens it’s difficult to know how to feel. Still, with such loveable characters getting into hijinks, facing struggles, and overcoming obstacles, the unanswered questions don’t really matter.
It is odd, however, that the film explores a whole new lore
with the addition of the enchanted forest instead of developing existing lore
further, like the Trolls as an example. Instead, audiences are forced to learn
about the Northuldra and the four natural elements that govern the forest. But
those elements aren’t always simply elements as everyone knows them. Sometimes
they’re living creatures, like a lizard. Other times, like in the case of
water, it’s half living and half elemental as it manifests itself in the form
of a horse. Why does it have shape? And why a horse? Audiences will never know,
and it’s not important to know ultimately.
What it lacks in coherence, the film makes up for in
stunning visuals. The aforementioned water horse has a mane made of water that
drips like a fountain. It’s breathtaking character design. And when Elsa does
anything with her ice powers, it’s beautiful to behold and are some of the film’s
best set pieces.
The songs, however, are forgettable, which is probably due to the story that’s hard to connect with emotionally. Fortunately, there are two numbers that stand out. The first is Olaf’s “When I’m Older”, which is cute in its ironic self-awareness. The second is Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods”, but the song itself isn’t what makes it memorable, but rather the visual presentation of the performance that only adults of a certain age will appreciate. While none of the songs are catchy, that fact will probably be appreciated by parents of young children on long drives.
Despite all of the ways that Frozen II falls short of
being a satisfying sequel to Frozen, the film is still entertaining, beautiful,
and extremely well-crafted. It just feels like a property unto itself. If this
had been a brand-new world with its own characters and lore, then there would
be no expectations to live up to. Regrettably, the bar is set and Frozen II doesn’t