I was skeptical when I saw the trailer for ‘Frozen II.’ I loved the first and I felt it was a complete story as it is. I didn’t think I wanted to see more from Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, happy with how their story concluded and the wonderful message ‘Frozen’ had for everyone who came to see it, both young and old. But directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (with a screenplay by Jennifer Lee) build from the first movie and expanded the lore of Arendelle and further developed the relationship of the sisters.
They didn’t just build a snowman. They went on an adventure to uncover the truth of their past, save the kingdom of Arendelle from a mystical spirit, and in the process, grow and strengthen their relationship without sacrificing their own individuality.
‘Frozen II’ plays out like a straight-up fantasy adventure where our heroines have to take on a quest to save their kingdom by entering into a mystical forest to uncover the truth about a strange voice that is calling to Elsa. This call has something to do with an enchanted forest that they’ve heard about as children, and now it will come to test Elsa’s gifts while realigning the sisters’ relationship with each other.
While the movie is filled with gorgeous visuals and imagery with some of the most captivating animation, the true magic of ‘Frozen II’ is the inherent humanity in the characters and the care all the animators took to really make the animated princesses feel and act human.
The enchanted forest has it share of magical creatures and even a brand new cute and perfect-as-a-toy character for the kids (and the kids-at-heart) to fawn over, but what really gets me are the very human moments that the film generously peppers the narrative with that keeps the story grounded.
As Elsa embarks on her quest, Anna refuses to let her go on her own. From body language to the marvellous voice acting work from Kristen Bell, it really makes Anna’s love for her sister shine through. While the way Elsa’s eyes dart to and fro, always surveying the area, always reading the room (alongside Idina Menzel’s voice portrayal) really allows us into the conflict that plays out in Elsa’s story. While Kristoff is there to be with Anna, his own subplot is wonderfully portrayed that it really reinforces the humanity of the film without taking away from the big adventure story that is on everybody’s mind.
This is what is exemplary from ‘Frozen II.’ It does not rest on its laurels and just gives us more of the same. It’s not centered around the quest nor is it focused on just building the relationship of the royal sisters. Each character — from Elsa to Anna to Kristoff and even Olaf — all have their individual moments, one that is integral to the quest and one that is personal to their own arcs. And the film still manages to be funny, to be romantic, to be empowering, and wonderfully human.
In fact, one of the strongest scenes in the whole film is set up for the call to action when our heroes are playing a game of charades. It’s really a transitory scene but it really gives us a feel for these people as people. It becomes a foundation for the kind of emotional journeys each one will take in their big quest. It’s such a simple, funny scene but it imbues the movie with so much heart that everything else is just a bonus.
It’s wonderful to see that the people in Disney didn’t go for a cash grab with this sequel. They brought back Buck and Lee and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and didn’t settle for just any script for these lovely Disney royal family. There’s no point in talking about the powerful message of women empowerment and the importance of celebrating sisterhood and family. It’s embedded into the DNA of this franchise that they don’t have to underline it or highlight. It’s there. It will always be the strongest element of ‘Frozen.’
I’m really glad I got to see it and that my initial thoughts were unfounded. ‘Frozen II’ is a wonderful epic adventure that is filled with a gorgeous magical heart, and I’d gladly build a snowman with these characters again.