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Rather Than Taking the Easy Way, ‘Frozen II’ Finds its Own Path

November 25, 2019

When it comes to the world of ‘Frozen,’ there are two certainties:

  1. Disney knows how to craft an incredibly enjoyable story around these characters and this world.

  2. You are the only one who thinks it’s cute to dress your kid up like Elsa and share videos of them singing on social media … I cannot stress this enough.

In Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Frozen 2," Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) finds herself in an enchanted forest that is surrounded by a mysterious and magical mist. (© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

‘Frozen II’ starts out with a flashback of Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) as children (before any of the events from the first movie). Their father, the still-alive King Agnarr, tells them a story about their grandfather and how he formed a bond – and a peace treaty – with a “magical” tribe of people in the mysterious Enchanted Forest, which sits just outside Arendelle. Like most ancient treaties, this one doesn’t end well for anyone … although nobody knows why.

 

Fast forward to 3 years after the end of ‘Frozen,’ and we find Queen Elsa adjusting to her new role as matriarch of Arendelle – the ice is gone, the gates open, and the people happy. Her bond with Anna and boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), reindeer Sven, and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) has grown strong and the quintet make up an unlikely, but loving and supportive family.

 

However, like all good things, Elsa’s familial bliss comes crashing down when she starts hearing a mysterious voice calling to her from the Enchanted Forest, and her response leaves her kingdom in jeopardy.

 

With the help of her family, Elsa sets off to find the source of the voice and to save Arendelle before it’s too late.

Curious and cute, this salamander inhabits the Enchanted Forest. Though shy at first, Bruni can't help but be drawn to Elsa's icy magic and enjoys the cool snowflake treats she creates. (© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

In general, it’s a tough task to make a good sequel. That task becomes even more difficult when the original is as financially successful ($1.2 billion + at the worldwide box office) and beloved as ‘Frozen.’

 

But directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (who wrote the screenplay), did an excellent job of retaining the basic elements that made ‘Frozen’ so popular without simply recycling them. The characters have grown and evolved, but not so much that they’re not the same at their core. The same is true of the story – themes of finding one’s own path, love, inner strength, acceptance, and forgiveness are still prevalent, but they’re presented in a way that doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of the original.

 

That’s not to say ‘Frozen II’ is a perfect sequel, because it’s not – the story’s not quite as powerful, the songs not nearly as catchy and memorable. But I think that’s to be expected and it’s OK. Rather than simply rehash what we’ve already seen and heard, they carved out new paths, and while the scenery on those paths aren’t quite as good, they get you to where you need to be.

Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) venture far from Arendelle in a dangerous but remarkable journey to help Elsa find answers about the past. (© 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

 

The fact that the falloff from ‘Frozen’ to ‘Frozen II’ is so minimal speaks wonders about the importance of continuity in terms of writers, directors, etc. Kudos to Disney for (finally) realizing this and keeping the team in place.

 

I read a tweet over the weekend by writer Danimal Krossingsmith (@kibblesmith) that sums it up perfectly: “In my day, Frozen 2 would’ve been released directly to VHS with a new Olaf who sounds weird, and we would’ve been GRATEFUL.”

 

And we are, thanks to ‘Frozen II’ standing on its own, rather than in the overwhelming shadow of its predecessor.

 

★★★★ of ★★★★★

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