As winter approaches, a chilling new film from Disney blows into theaters; Frozen II was released nearly six years after the widely acclaimed animated film Frozen took the world by storm. Highly anticipated due to its stunning predecessor, the movie has had wild success in the box office, bringing in $430 million in its release week alone. While it is still aimed at young audiences, we appreciated the fact that the plot was much darker and more action-filled compared to its relatively light-hearted prequel, recognizing that a significant portion of its viewers are six years older than when they saw the first film. This story is more focused on Elsa discovering her inner self and less focused on the bond between the sisters displayed in the previous movie.
The plot revolves around Elsa, Anna, and their friends’ journey to an enchanted forest, which supposedly vanished after a long-ago conflict between their grandfather’s Arendellian forces and the mystical Northuldra tribe, native to the forest. The magical forest was reopened by Elsa after listening to a strange voice beckoning her with a haunting tune, and the disrupted spirits of nature wreak havoc on Arendelle. All the while, the protagonists are absorbed with their personal concerns; Olaf is worrying about things changing, Anna is determined to keep her optimism, Kristoff is nervous about proposing to Anna, and Elsa keeps hearing the mysterious voice.
One of the first things that we noticed about the film was the significant improvement in the animation. The first film was praised for its realistic rendition of snow and ice, which the animators created new animation programs for. Developing movies such as Moana and Zootopia created a vast, new set of technology for Disney to utilize, and the animators of Frozen II were able to expand the storyline to include multiple natural elements, such as wind, fire, rivers, and rocks. The motions and facial features of the characters were also visibly smoother; Elsa’s twirling and strutting in the song Let It Go seem almost clunky compared to her graceful leaps in the new song Show Yourself.
The songs resembled music that would be in a Broadway musical as compared to a Disney movie, and we really enjoyed them. Into the Unknown and Show Yourself mirrored Let It Go as they were both solos by Elsa revealing herself and trying to discover a hidden truth. When I’m Older, sung by Olaf, retained the comical aspect of In Summer, while also adding significantly more reflective thoughts. Kristoff’s song about his relationship with Anna, Lost in the Woods, had older members of the audience wracked with laughter, as it was heavily based on boy band songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s, complete with reindeer backup singers. The song that really stood out to us the most was All is Found, a lullaby from the tribe of Northuldra that Elsa and Anna’s mother sing to them. Although it is a relatively simple lullaby, it contains a hidden meaning, and cleverly foreshadows the rest of the movie. The only criticism we have for the songs in general is that they were less memorable than those that were featured in Frozen I.
As for the characters themselves, we were slightly disappointed about Kristoff not having as prominent of a role as he did in the previous film. In Frozen, he was heavily involved in the action, but in this movie, all he worries about is proposing to Anna and is barely involved in the action until the very end. Even though he had a solid “solo” in this film, most of his presence in the movie was just comic relief. Despite this, there was a significant development in the characters of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. Elsa had a journey of self-discovery where she found out where her powers came from and where she truly belonged. A less optimistic side was added to Anna in this movie, contrasting with her reckless naivety in the first film. Although Olaf was his usual comical and naive self, there was a heavy emphasis on him maturing and becoming more thoughtful about life and its mysteries.
The plot of Frozen II is more complex than the average animated film, and it could potentially be confusing to younger audiences. However, the breathtaking visual effects and stellar songs still exemplify the wonder and magic that defines Disney movies. We highly encourage you to step into the unknown, and show yourself at the movie theater to watch this film.