What parents everywhere may have feared most, the sequel “Frozen II” revives the stories of Anna and Elsa in a new film that will entertain all but the coldest of heart. An engaging story and good songs continue the evolution of the characters from the original movie.
The action begins with a scene of the two young sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) playing in their bedroom when their parents walk in. Presumably this is before the action of the first picture where the two are separated.
King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) tells a bedtime story based in fact. At first, I thought that this flashback was going to be the core of the story but it is in fact just a setup for the later events of the film.
A people called the Northuldra lived in an enchanted forest. They had a magical relationship with nature. Agnarr’s father King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto) built them a dam to help them out of kindness.
A celebration was planned between the leaders of Arendelle and the Northuldrans in the forest. But something went terribly wrong—a battle between the two groups broke out. King Runeard was killed but Prince Agnarr was saved by an unknown young woman. Since then a mysterious mist prevents anyone from entering or leaving the forest.
Cut to the present day. Elsa is now Queen of Arendelle, a place that looks like something out of a Renaissance Faire. Anna resides in the castle. Their friends Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven are there as well to provide companionship and good times.
In a tedious subplot, Kristoff is planning to propose to Anna. Every time he tries this throughout the movie, he bungles the situation.
Elsa keeps hearing this strange vocal melody, which nobody else can hear. It seems to be beckoning her, but to where? Then the town is suddenly beset by the four forces of Earth, Air, Fire and Water which leave Arendelle uninhabitable. The townsfolk retreat up a cliff.
The five stalwart friends decide to go to the forest to figure out what is going on. Surprisingly they are granted admittance through the mist. Inside, they encounter the remnants of the Arendelle army led by Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), and the Northuldrans led by Yelana (Martha Plimpton). Relations between the two groups are tense as you can imagine after their botched celebration.
New characters are introduced such as Bruni, a fire salamander, who is cute as a button. We meet Earth Giants who are composed of rocks and thunder across the landscape.
Anna, Elsa and Olaf depart on their quest to find answers to the summoning sound Elsa hears. Kristoff is left behind as he sings a hilarious boy band takeoff. The women encounter their parents’ abandoned ship. The King and Queen did not die in the South Seas as the women had been told.
What is the mystery of the origin of Elsa’s magic? What has caused the mist to envelop the forest and the destruction of Arendelle? What secrets are hidden in the family of Elsa and Anna?
The original “Frozen” had some dark themes in it: the separation of siblings, a false romance, a sister in exile, and a sister with a frozen heart. This sequel brings a new kind of shadow: a family action in the past that tarnishes the legacy of Arendelle. It is interesting to see how the filmmakers deal with the issues of accepting responsibility for the consequences and atoning for the actions of others to set things right.
There also is an element of determinism in the new picture. As you can imagine, unless you live in a non-Disney state of mind, things work out in the end. But these end results, which are considered beneficent, could not have occurred without the sometimes negative actions of others and this particular confluence of events. It is as if the magic happening in the movie is not limited to just displays of prestidigitation but also controls the destinies of the characters.
The story had elements that reminded me of the television series “Lost.” When the women discover the abandoned ship, all I could think of was the “Black Rock” from that show. Other similar elements include entering a mysterious forest (island in “Lost”) and the magical Northuldrans (the Others in “Lost”).
Aside from these comparisons, the complexity of the plotline is excellent. There are enough twists and turns to keep one interested. There are several moments where all seems bleak, but the ingenuity evinced in recovering from these moments is inspiring.
Besides the annoying marriage proposal subplot, another troubling theme was Anna’s clinginess to Elsa. It soon degenerated into tedium.
The songs are well-written and performed as one would expect. I didn’t hear any that would warrant the success of “Let It Go” from the original. The closest is the tune “Show Yourself,” which is a true show-stopper both for the music and the animated effects which accompany the performance.
The animation is superb and I would have expected nothing less. The colors are bold, the landscapes are extraordinary, and the visual effects are wonderful.
Parents should know that at one point Olaf disintegrates into possible non-existence. Grandfathers do not come off well. There are some intense action sequences, but nothing that is too violent or gory.
All in all, this is an inventive, thoughtful film that should entertain all ages. It is a good continuation of the characters’ lives from the first film and a logical one. Will there be a Frozen 3? As Olaf would say, water has memory.
Three and a half out of five stars
Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough.
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad
Directed By: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Screenplay By: Jennifer Lee
Songs & Music By: Christophe Beck