Even those of us who are not parents did not have to make much effort to see how much of a cultural impact the original Frozen film made back in 2013. It came out just in time before the beginning of the live action remake wave that Disney is now on, gave a lot of kids (especially girls) life lessons to learn, and songs that were stuck in their heads (as well as their parents’) for so long afterward I feel we may have forgotten how good it was to begin with. The only true negative about the film was that it made Disney produce Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which would have been fine had it not been played before 2017’s Coco as a “short” (it was 20 minutes long), resulting in a theater experience I still am recovering from.
Still, we now come to Frozen 2, which (thankfully) does not reference anything to Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. As children, Elsa and Anna are told by their parents (who we know died in the first film) that the people of Arendelle were once sent to the forest to make a form of peace with the dwellers of the forest, where the spirits of earth, wind, water, and fire would dwell (kind of like that film The Last Airbender, without the awfulness). In the present, Elsa (Idina Menzel) begins hearing voices, leading her to the forest where an immense fog has made the way completely impassable. She is joined, of course, by her little sister Anna (Kristen Bell) and Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Kristoff’s loyal reindeer Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad), destined to go down as one of the best supporting comic relief characters in Disney’s long history.
As is the case with nearly all animated sequels (Disney or otherwise), the returning characters are accompanied with some fresh new faces, including Sterling K. Brown ( from This is Us) as a long-time loyal guard to Arendel. Other voice talents include Alfred Molina, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jason Ritter. My favorite new addition was that of a speechless and small (yet powerful) small toad that is befriended by Elsa.
The story is (mostly) solid, and kids can walk away learning about how we all play a part in the grand scheme of things, as well as helping out your friends/family. One thing I regret to say adults will not like is that the songs of this film are not as up to par as those from the original. That is not to say they are totally bad, but I for one did not find myself humming hardly any tunes from this film (unlike the first film, which made “Let it Go” one of the most overplayed songs in the history mankind.)
An example of this would be the song “Into the Unknown”, which is being marketed as the sequel’s “Let it Go”, sung by Menzel’s character Elsa. I recall the first feelings I had when I sat in the theater during the first film and got chills (so to speak) when “Let it Go” was performed. Vibes were sent through me that truly reminded me of Menzel’s true iconic song, “Defying Gravity” (from the musical Wicked). I did not get this sense here and would argue it is not even the best song of the film (I was more into Elsa singing “Show yourself” and Kristoff singing “Lost in the Woods”.) Matters are made even worse when the credits role, and “Into the Unknown” is sung by Panic at the Disco.
Even the solo song by Olaf is rather disappointing. In the first film, we truly believed that his character was certain to be having a future life “In Summer”. Here, he sings about how all things will make sense “When I am Older”. All well and good, but the song seems like the makers just said “Quick, we need a song for Olaf!”, and did not stop to realize it is not part of the story at all.
Parents, this is easily one movie you will probably end up taking your kids to, since I am certain many have been begging there parents for ages about it. There are some dark moments, but nothing most kids can’t handle.
Will kids enjoy Frozen 2? More than likely (at least those under the age of 7 or so). The little girl sitting behind me (around five or six years old) surely did, when she said at one point “I want that dress!”. Parents are another story (though Olaf does give all ages plenty to laugh about). The first film enthralled us with stunning animation, catchy songs, and intriguing new characters. No one would have predicted before the first film came out that it would become the entity it is today, which was mainly due to engaging the imaginations of all ages of the audience (something that Disney is arguably the best at doing in any form of entertainment).
For Frozen 2, the movie does try to go into newer territory, but it did not take as many original risks as the first film. It would have been a better film if it truly did venture into the unknown.