A Story All Ages Can Warm Up To: A Review Of Frozen II


via imdb.com

One of the promotional posters for Disney’s “Frozen II,” depicting Elsa blasting ice through purple fire.

Cherise Kim , Editor-In-Chief

It has been six years since Disney gifted audiences with the pop culture phenomenon that became of 2013’s “Frozen.”

Featuring chart-topping songs such as “Let It Go,” glitzy animated sequences and a plot twist subverting the typical “true love” trope that Disney has become synonymous with, “Frozen” quickly became a staple of both film critics’ circles and young girls’ Halloween costumes.

So when Disney announced a sequel to this beloved movie in 2015, expectations were certain to be high. And though it would be another four years until the new film hit theaters, anticipation grew increasingly palpable as audiences longed to reconnect with the magic of Arendelle.

This anticipation clearly showed in the volume of presales, which set records on mobile ticket sellers Fandango and Atom for being the fastest-selling tickets of any animated movie on either platform.

And though animated features from Disney are typically marketed as being affairs for families and children, “Frozen II” is an enjoyable experience for every age group who watches it.

“There’s adult humor,” said senior Luke Isler with a laugh. “And the songs are good.”

With various subtle jokes and a complex plotline that fosters an emotional investment into the characters’ fates, the film certainly supersedes its classification as a spectacle for children.

“I’m 16 and I enjoyed it, and my mom enjoyed it,” said sophomore Sareena Lidhar.

But the ultimate question for all sequels, and in particular for “Frozen II” as such a highly anticipated one, remains: does it live up to the standard set by the first movie?

The short answer to this question is yes, but there are a few certain caveats to the claim that “Frozen II” is just as good as its predecessor.

In terms of plot, “Frozen II” aims to pull back the curtain of mystery around the movie’s fictional universe with a heavy emphasis on Arendellian lore and Elsa and Anna’s royal lineage.

This entails multiple flashback sequences and heavy worldbuilding to build the backstory of both their kingdom of Arendelle and the indigenous people surrounding it, as well as the untimely fate met by Elsa and Anna’s parents early in the first film.

While this increased level of plot sophistication was another element that allowed it to hold the attention of more mature audiences, it gave this movie a far different feel to the straightforward story of “Frozen.”

“The original had a better plot structure,” said Lidhar. “[Frozen II] was good, but the original movie is always gonna be the best.”

Isler believes the emphasis on mythology and lore felt more contrived than authentic.

“[Disney] didn’t want to do a sequel, so the first fifteen minutes was just setting up the story,” said Isler.

While most of the extensive background the writers insert into the plot does fit quite naturally with the characters’ progression, there is only so much worldbuilding that can fit into a 103-minute runtime.

Lidhar believes “it focused more on Elsa and her story than an actual plot structure.”

In order to truly meet viewers’ expectations, though, one more element had to be perfect: the music.

The songs of the first “Frozen,” which were a standout part of the film with the soundtrack spending 13 weeks on the Billboard album chart, certainly created a high bar to meet.

Elsa’s solo from “Frozen,” “Let It Go,” became a global sensation. It was certified platinum twice, selling over one million copies and becoming a radio-station favorite.

In “Frozen II,” songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez attempt to recreate some of the grandeur of “Let It Go” with another self-discovery solo ballad for Elsa: “Into the Unknown.”

“‘Into the Unknown’ is the classic song of this movie, like ‘Let It Go’ was for the first one,” said Lidhar.

Seeing Elsa performing a call-and-response with a mysterious siren call only able to be heard by her, “Into the Unknown” is a grand, spiraling musical number with an impressive animation sequence to match the vocal chops of Elsa’s voice actor, Broadway legend Idina Menzel.

The true standout song of “Frozen II,” though, is “The Next Right Thing,” performed by Kristen Bell’s Princess Anna.

The song comes at a pivotal point in the film’s plot when Anna is lost, alone and desperate upon seemingly losing both her sister and Olaf. It is the point at which she must find the strength to continue even without those upon whom she relied for guidance and companionship.

This song reveals Anna as the true protagonist of the movie, and creates a deeply emotional yet solitary moment as the apex of the storyline.

The film’s other songs generally mimic those of the first one, with yet another jazzy, comedic feature sung by Josh Gad’s Olaf. The first “Frozen” had “In Summer,” about all the fun a snowman can have in the summertime, and the second had “When I Am Older,” a comedic bit about Olaf growing up.

However, some songs differ from the first, with more emotional ventures into the characters’ psyches. “The Next Right Thing” is one such song, as is “Lost In the Woods.”

“Lost In the Woods,” a love ballad by Kristoff accompanied by a dramatic sequence almost reminiscent of an exaggerated R&B music video from the early 2000’s, provides some comic relief for the audience while attempting to garner sympathy for voice actor Jonathan Groff’s portrayal of a forlorn loverboy.

However, while most of the film’s music was heartfelt, entertaining and catchy, songs such as “When I Am Older” and “Lost In the Woods” ultimately detracted from the overall plot. While the music and sequences themselves were plenty of fun, it was often difficult to find much actual value in relation to what was happening at that point in the story.

“The music felt, in the first one, more in sync with the plotline,” English teacher Suzanne Wren said of the music in comparison to the first film. “The second one did [sync with the plotline], but it just wasn’t as strong.”

“Frozen II” ultimately does fall short in certain areas, with substantial worldbuilding and an intricate plot that feels weighed down with lore at times, and songs that — while heavy in entertainment value — lacked much contribution to the actual plot.

However, as a whole, “Frozen II” was a highly enjoyable experience that left the audience stunned by the visuals, score and story.

And though many do see the film with family, they leave the theater pleasantly surprised at its ability to entertain audiences of all ages.

“I saw it with my eight-year-old granddaughter and she absolutely loved it, but I don’t think she loved it more than I did,” said Wren.