November 20, 2019 Frozen II (Movie Review)
Nearly six years have passed since Disney released their global smash hit Frozen in late 2013. An ice-covered musical fairy tale based on a beloved Hans Christian Andersen story, Frozen subverted typical tropes about love and featured some incredible female characters who have now become solidified as Disney icons. Parents everywhere have no doubt endured endless repeats of the original’s earwormy soundtrack featuring the now-infamous “Let It Go,” and images of princesses Elsa, Anna, and Olaf adorn merchandise all over the world. Now, Director Chris Buck and Writer/Director Jennifer Lee return to release Frozen II worldwide on Friday, November 22nd, but does it live up to the almost insurmountable hype surrounding the first film?
In short: yes! After dozens of forgettable follow-ups to fan-favorite films, Disney has finally created a sequel that far surpasses the original. Frozen II is a refreshing change from its predecessor, taking these beloved characters and building a brand new story that plunges them into the unknown. This film is not afraid to take risks—it is much darker than the original, and shows that Disney is not afraid to tread new ground. Combine all that with stunning animation, memorable performances, and a soundtrack that you will actually want to hear hundreds of times, and you have got a recipe for one of Disney’s best films of the past few years.
When we last left Arendelle, Elsa (Idina Menzel: Rent 2005, Frozen 2013) was established as queen, and after using her icy magic to save the kingdom, it seemed as though the story would end happily ever after for Elsa and her sister Anna (Kristen Bell: Veronica Mars series, Frozen 2013). With Frozen II, audiences find Elsa, Anna, and friends Kristoff (Jonathan Groff: Looking series, Mindhunter series), Sven the reindeer, and Olaf the magical snowman (Josh Gad: Beauty and the Beast 2017, Little Monsters 2019) three years after Frozen’s conclusion.
As autumn approaches Arendelle, Elsa, surrounded by her beloved friends and family, seems as though she has everything—but something is not quite right. A mysterious siren call that only she can hear entices her to leave her perfect life behind and dive into a a dark, unknown world in order to right a past wrong and save her kingdom. Of course, it would not be an adventure without Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf joining forces with Elsa to journey north—and discover a dark truth about their family’s past.
Frozen II’s story has a much darker, grittier tone than its predecessor, both visually and thematically. As the group travels to a mist-shrouded Northuldra, they discover a magical curse caused by a past betrayal that upends life as they know it and sets each character to face a frightening new world alone. By tackling issues like grief, loneliness, family, and doing the right thing, this film features themes and ideas that have matured along with its characters and audience.
That said, those tense, touching moments are perfectly balanced with hysterical comedy. Much of that is thanks to Gad’s performance as Olaf, who wrestles with newfound maturity and understanding, making this once insufferable character feel like the heart of the film. Groff also given much more opportunity to show off his skills—he finally gets to sing—providing us with the hilarious power ballad “Lost in the Woods,” a scene guaranteed to make you cackle from start to finish. Plus, as always, Bell and Menzel shine in their roles with some unforgettable vocal performances.
Thanks to Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Frozen II’s soundtrack feels more mature. “Into the Unknown” is sure to be a hit, and “The Next Right Thing” will definitely resonate with audiences thanks to an unforgettable, nuanced performance from Bell. Not to mention, the soundtrack features versions of these songs from artists like Panic! at the Disco, Weezer, and Kacey Musgraves. Even if Frozen might not be your thing, be sure to head to your favorite streaming platform and check out a few of these tracks.
Each of these songs is blended and paced beautifully with the film’s incredible animation. Thanks to the billion-plus dollar earnings of the original, Walt Disney Animation Studios clearly spared no expense making each frame of Frozen II polished to perfection; the most minute details are masterfully rendered, making the film a joy to watch on the big screen. Even those who have somehow managed not to have seen Frozen can jump right in with Frozen II, as the film contains all the context you need to enjoy.
Kids, teens, and adults can all find something special to take away from this film, and it is exciting to think of where Disney will take the story from here. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Frozen II 5 out of 5 stars.