Like many other curious movie-goers, I saw Frozen in theaters only after being relentlessly pelted with hype. I found, despite its rather half-baked story line, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Idina Menzel’s soaring Broadway vocals were as genuinely as thrilling as Kristen Bell’s delicate melodies. The finale of true love saving the day being the familial bond between sisters subverted the dozens of Disney animated antecedents and was legitimately refreshing.
However, even after my many, many sessions of trying my best to Let It Go as the soundtrack played in my car, I still could not get over the plot holes. Why did Elsa have magic? Why didn’t Anna? Why did their parents leave? Why did they go to the trolls only to completely ignore their advice and purposefully traumatize their own children?
Like any respectable sequel, Frozen 2 not only attempts answers some of these questions, but also expands on the world of Arendelle. We’re treated to more magical lore and a deepening of Arendelle history, and story lines with character development for our three favorite humans and singular magical snowman. We are witness as each of our main cast begins to experience growing pains as they travel through a literal forest of transformation.
Elsa (Idina Menzel) is a ball of nerves, always trying to what is best for the kingdom, but ignoring what is best for her. She hears a call of magic and does everything she can to deny the pull. Anna (Kristen Bell) is so constantly worried for her sister and her powers she’s afraid to have her own life away from Elsa. Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is coming to the realization that his feelings for Anna are something more and he struggles to find the right way and time to propose marriage. Olaf (Jonathan Groff), the closest to any child character, begins to wonder about the permanence of things and if any of what he’s experiencing will make sense when he’s older.
While many of the questions from Frozen are answered, Frozen 2 presents us with a new avalanche of questions and themes. What do you do when you find out your ancestors committed horrific acts of betrayal? How do you handle new, negative emotions in the confusion of growing up? How do you push through the grief after a devastating loss? How do you deal with the vulnerabilities of being in love and how can you be a good partner and model healthy behavior when your loved one needs help with a situation that doesn’t center you? These themes and questions are undoubtedly more mature than than those presented in Frozen, but in the six years since its release the audience has matured as well. And as I’m sure all parents are very aware of, there will be repeat viewings, during which these themes and answers will hopefully stick.
Much like the themes and characters, the music of Frozen 2 is more complex than that of its predecessor. These songs do far more with melody, lyric, humor, and heart. Elsa’s duet with the forest spirits on Into the Unknown, is nothing short of magical. Kristoff’s Lost in the Woods, a send up of 80’s rock ballads, complete with hair tossing and guitar riffs had the audience in stitches and The Next Right Thing will definitely make it on to more than a few adults’ playlists. As a whole and as seperate pieces they’re all much stronger and more satisfying, but there isn’t one clear, immediate stand out that could dethrone Let It Go.
Frozen 2 a visual treat. The animated states of water, diamond like droplets, sharp shards of ice, giant crashing waves, and frost, are truly stunning. A hilarious and heart-filled sequel that surprises with the daring and complex themes it chooses to tackle. The music and writing have dramatically increased in quality, making Frozen 2 the rare sequel to surpass it’s predecessor.