In 2013, the world was taken by storm with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ fairy tale musical based on the classic Nordic story by Hans Christian Andersen. Frozen has been one of the most profitable animated features in Disney history, holding the position of highest-grossing animated film for nearly 3 years (it was surpassed by Finding Dory in Summer 2016). The Frozen craze took over all parts of Disney: the amusement parks in Anaheim and Orlando were rethemed to celebrate the film for nearly two years, the Norway Pavillion in EPCOT had their attraction redesigned for the film. Before 2017’s Pixar film, Coco, there was an animated short that served as a sequel to the film called Frozen Forever After that had Elsa create mini ice monsters with her sneezes. There is even a Broadway musical based on the movie! For a couple of years, it felt like Frozen was here to stay and I was not on board with the change.
I was not a fan of Frozen when it came out in 2013. I found the movie to be mediocre, and I did not understand its popularity (I always found Tangled to be a much more enjoyable film). Walking into the theater for its sequel, I made sure to put my previous judgment aside and to enter with an open mind. My only thought was this: please be good. It is with great pleasure that I write a review praising this exceptional film! In every way that I did not connect with the first Frozen film, I bonded with this sequel. Without further ado, here is my honest, spoiler-free review of Frozen 2.
Disclaimer: This is not an opinion-free review. While this review does not contain spoilers for the overall film, I allude to particular scenes and plot points in my overall evaluation of the film. Continue at your own risk.
One thing that you may have heard since the first trailer for Frozen 2 is one word: dark. The shots of Elsa struggling to walk on water over crashing waves by a shoreline, purple fire chasing Olaf, and Anna leaping from one cliff to another. These are just a few of the moments shown that have had fans of the first film raise an eyebrow. But this is a good thing!
The story continues a few months after Elsa has lifted the curse of the Eternal Winter in Arendelle. Set in the Autumn season, the story reflects the one word that describes the season: change. In many ways, the story pivots from a focus of sisterly love to a story of generational change. Don’t get me wrong; Elsa’s and Anna’s relationship is rekindled and the shared trauma they have experienced is at the forefront of this film. Unlike the first film, Frozen 2 is not afraid to challenge its audience to think about more complex topics.
Much of the film is surrounded by the mystery of an Enchanted Forest that our heroes find themselves in. While they discover the truth of where they are and its significance to Arendelle, the plot develops from a sing-song holiday movie to an epic fairy tale. Director/Writer Jennifer Lee has said in multiple interviews that she and the creative team viewed Frozen 2 as Act II of the overall play that is the Frozen franchise. Much like in the works of classical theater, the “Act II” of the Frozen story holds more emotional weight than the first act.
Minor Spoiler: There is one line that Olaf repeats a phrase several times through the movie: “The Enchanted Forest is a place of transformation. I wonder what will happen to us!” This quote from the film perfectly summarizes the character development for each protagonist. This is reflected in each of the character’s “moment” of the film.
Unlike the first film, where the main characters were Elsa & Anna, each character has their turn in the limelight. This is particular true for Kristoff and Sven. Kristoff (voiced by Johnathan Groff) transforms from Mountain Man to a sentimental gentleman who’s a role model to all young boys and young men. Of all the character developments in this film, I was most impressed with Kristoff’s development. It felt natural and genuine, all while not distracting the audience from the narrative of the story.
The visuals of Frozen 2 are incredible. The fire effects and water effects are eerily realistic, redefining the term “animation”. There is a moment where Elsa falls in a body of water (if you’ve seen the trailers, then you can figure out what scene I’m referring to), and her head is drenched from the splash. The visuals of her freckles shimmering in the moonlight, her off-white blonde hair tied back reacts to her movement seamlessly (and physically accurate, unlike her hair in “Let It Go”).
Elsa’s ice powers are beautiful, creating chillingly stunning looks. Olaf’s snow looks fluffy, Sven’s fur looks warm, and Kristoff’s coat looks comfy. The story is greatly affected by the shift from cool colors in Frozen to the warm Autumn colors of Frozen 2. Not only has the color palette transformed for the character outfits, but also for the world around them. Anna has ditched her bright purple winter hat for a darker maroon coat and a burgundy scarf.
If it weren’t for the stunning visuals, the movie would not have left such a positive impact on my view of the movie.
All in all, Frozen 2 is a fantastic follow-up to Part 1 of the story of the sister princesses the world fell in love with six years ago. I would be remiss to not reiterate how impressed I was with this sequel. Frozen 2 broke all the rules of a sequel as it pushed the conversation with complex storytelling, all while maintaining the level of humor and fun from the original. It is to my much-delighted surprise that I write this review with a high level of recommendation for moviegoers to watch this film.
Now it’s time for you to go Into The Unknown and see Frozen 2 in theaters starting on Friday, November 22nd!