by Kai Charles
Why FROZEN 2? It’s a question I asked myself immediately after the film was announced. FROZEN had record-breaking worldwide success and two Oscar wins, inspiring a generation of singers with the song “Let It Go”. It’s also a very solid standalone film. So, where does FROZEN 2 take its audience? Into the forest. Onto a path that reveals the past and paves the way for a brighter future.
FROZEN 2 Synopsis
Writer and Director Jennifer Lee describes FROZEN 2 as “the day after happily ever after”. This is beautifully illustrated in the opening scenes where we see Olaf laying on a blanket in a sunlight grove. Olaf has been given the gift of permafrost by Elsa, which gives him the ability to fully enjoy all seasons. As fall leaves surround him Olaf is reflecting on the changing seasons and the passage of time.
Anna confirms Olaf’s observations but also reminds him of the security of home and family in the song “Some Things Never Change”, as they walk through the castle grounds.
Three years have passed since we last visited Arendelle. Olaf now views the world with a toddler’s simplicity and questioning spirit. Arendelle is thriving, Anna and Kristoff are still a couple and Elsa is reveling in her freedom, finding joy in the daily pleasures of being surrounded by loved ones.
Amongst the main three however, hidden feelings are limiting their growth. Kristoff can’t seem to find the words to propose, Anna can’t fully focus on her own life because she is consumed with making sure her sister is safe and happy, and Elsa is trying to ignore a call that will lead her away from the kingdom and possibly put herself at risk.
It takes a threat to Arendelle to lead the sisters and their beloved companions to the edge of their home and to a forest that will force them to face the secrets of their past and to fight for their futures.
FROZEN 2 Reactions
What surprised me most about this film was how it peeled back the layers of every part of what came before to reveal deeper and darker truths. The call Elsa hears reveals new facets of her powers and also feeds a reckless streak Anna is very uncomfortable with.
Anna struggles with finding out who she is if Elsa no longer needs her. It’s so consuming to her that she doesn’t even think of what Kristoff might be feeling.
Kristoff’s journey in this film bravely explores themes not often explored in the male lead. In a musical moment titled “Lost in the Woods,” Kristoff sings about how Anna’s choices often leave him left on the wayside. He wonders how long he can go on chasing after her. The emotions of the song are very heartfelt but the creators give the number an 80’s ballad motif to add some moments of levity.
All of these story threads are tied together with a series of revelations about the origin of Elsa’s magic, the fate of the sister’s parents and what action from their ancestors severed two kingdoms. It’s heavy stuff, and quite a risk for Walt Disney Studios. The character arcs in this film are very dependent on the fact that fans of the original film have grown along with the characters.
That doesn’t mean that the film lacks fun. Olaf anchors the fun and humor throughout every facet of the movie and he even has a small but important moment where he identifies and expresses his feelings.
FROZEN 2 – The Songs
FROZEN is synonymous with fantastic music, and it’s very important to temper expectations and comparisons to what has come before. When I recall the film in my head, full-blown lyrics don’t spring to mind but the emotional resonance of performances still sticks with me. For many Anna’s ballad “The Next Right Thing” will become and anthem for living through what feels unlivable.
Elsa explores her growing powers with two songs “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself”. Both of these songs are a deeper telegraphing of her emotions, and the gifts she receives from being open to knowing the truth about her past.
The potential for a universal smash hit song from this film however is very doubtful in my opinion, and that’s okay. I respect this film for having a mission and following through on it to its completion. At its heart FROZEN 2 is a story of love. The love we have for ourselves and for others.
Along the way the story also manages to smoothly integrate new diverse characters, and showcase the power that comes from knowing your history, but not letting it define the choices of your future. How audiences respond to this film will vary but one truth remains. Olaf will always be universally loved.
FROZEN 2 arrives in US Theaters on November 22, 2019. Have you seen it? Do you agree with this review? Please let us know in the comments below, or follow @SkywalkingPod on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to share your thoughts.