2013’s ‘Frozen‘ not only became the biggest animated film at the global box office of all time, it was a true pop phenomenon in every household with little children screaming along to Elsa’s rendition of ‘Let It Go’. Six years have passed and Disney is re-visiting Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven who hastily have to leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee are back to direct their sequel and have taken a darker approach to uncover the secrets of the kingdom of Arendelle. Whatever you thought you knew about the past and how this kingdom came to be, isn’t as clean cut as you’d think it is. In an attempt to brighten up things, Olaf (Josh Gad) is still around with a series of incredibly funny jokes. Although, as soon as we arrive at a forest that’s magically clouded in a glittery fog that won’t let anyone enter, this family gets ready to embark on a rollercoaster of elemental proportions. No one is safe and the stakes are higher than ever before.
Don’t fear, this is still Disney and unfortunately this is still a kids-friendly story. ‘Frozen II‘ changes the origin and its dark history behind everything we have learned about Arendelle in ‘Frozen‘. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are still together, Sven is still as loyal as any reindeer could ever be and Olaf is enjoying the sun in his protective permafrost. But nothing lasts forever. An alarming voice (performed by Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora) calling out to Elsa (Idina Menzel) to uncover the origin of her powers, earth giants, uncontrollable fires, mysterious gales spooking an entire community and an unknown menacing force in the water are definitely going to scare the smallest children, and some heartbreaking moments will fly right over their heads, while the adult crowd will try to control their sobbing.
Especially Idina Menzel‘s voice work is almost perfect, with an evolving character arc that goes right back to the start and is beyond impressive. The newest main single “Into the Unknown” (with a radio version performed by Panic at the Disco) is catchy and will get stuck in your head. Where Kristen Bell was the original MVP in ‘Frozen‘, this time her Anna becomes almost annoyingly whiny, and the solo song she’s given is one the weakest on the soundtrack. Jonathan Groff‘s rendition of “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” is a fun mix of 80s/90s rock-pop – visuals and over-the-top musical arrangements included.
Emotionally manipulative and with some heavy context regarding colonialism and in some ways also global warming, ‘Frozen II‘ is much more mature than its predecessor. The songs might not be as grand and memorable as the well known tunes of ‘Frozen‘, but the rest of the film makes up for that loss. Magical, transformative, exulting and one heck of an unforgettable journey.
Review – ‘Frozen II’
Reviewed at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction, Sydney, Nov. 24, 2019. Australian Classification: PG. Running time: 103 min.
PRODUCTION: A Walt Disney Pictures release of a Walt Disney Animation production. Producer: Peter Del Vecho (p.g.a.). Executive producer: Byron Howard.
CREW: Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. Screenplay: Jennifer Lee. Story: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Marc E. Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez. Editor: Jeff Draheim. Music: Christophe Beck.
WITH: (voices) Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews.