'Frozen II' Captures the Same Heart in a Larger, More Supernatural Universe Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Starring Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Evan Rachel Wood
Published Nov 19, 2019Disney's long-awaited sequel to the ridiculously popular animated film Frozen has finally arrived — and with it, an expanded universe, new characters and gargantuan mythological beings.
Opening up Frozen II, everything seems peaceful in Arendelle at last. Elsa (Idina Menzel) is in full control of her cryogenic powers, the castle doors are wide open, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are happily in love and Olaf (Josh Gad) managed to go all summer without melting or having his nose eaten by Sven.
But something is calling Elsa. Literally. From beyond Arendelle lies an ancient power — something that Elsa can sense has the answer to the mystery of her origin. She tries to ignore it, but like a siren (voiced by Norwegian electronic artist Aurora), the power sings to Elsa, and she can only hold back from its call for so long. Seemingly connected elemental forces turn Arendelle into an uninhabitable disaster zone. And so the gang packs up to follow the call wherever it might lead, hoping to help the townspeople back into their homes and set everything straight.
The first act of the sequel, meanwhile, makes way for some shiny new musical numbers. Two of the film's new songs "Some Things Never Change" and "Into the Unknown" (written by returning songwriting power couple Robert and Kristen Lopez) are worthy contenders to 2013's Academy Award-winning "Let It Go," but can't stand up to the original earworm's virality on their own. "All Is Found" (sung by Evan Rachel Wood) acts as a haunting capsule for the film's entire plot, while Josh Gad's "When I Am Older" offers timely comic relief.
The Arendelle quintet unceremoniously split up toward the second act, and are forced to harness their energies separately, while they try desperately to reconfigure their broken world from their own corners of the enchanted forest.
Dark truths are revealed, ushering in social commentary that runs throughout, with the film subtly tackling big topics like colonialism, environmentalism, sisterhood and identity. It does so with grace, gesturing toward the virtues of fairness and social justice without going over the top, all the while throwing in handfuls of Olaf's unintentionally nihilistic one-liners to keep parents entertained.
While the film shoves what could be a three-hour Tolkien-style epic into just two — leaving no time for organic problem solving or deliberation — the directorial team still fit in all the necessary points to develop and expand the Frozen universe (and incidentally open it up for more sequels), while retaining all the best elements from the first film.
Overall, the sequel recaptures all the magic and good-naturedness found in the original, adds depth to the ongoing story of Elsa and Anna, and doesn't come off as the desperate cash grab some cynics might have you believe it to be. Great for kids and adults alike.