Frozen 2 builds upon the story, characters, and world of Frozen, the 2013 film that became a worldwide phenomenon. When the inevitable news came out about a sequel, many wondered if Frozen 2 would live up to the original. Is Frozen 2 worth the hype? Is Frozen 2 as good as the original Frozen? Keep reading this Frozen 2 review to find out!
In Frozen 2, six years have passed since the event of the first film and the denizens of Arendelle live peacefully with the ice queen, Elsa (Idina Menzel) as their ruler. When a voice that only Elsa can hear beckons her into the unknown, Elsa heads on an adventure to the enchanted forest, with her sister, Anna (Kristen Bell); her sister’s boyfriend, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff); and talking snowman pal, Olaf (Josh Gad) in tow.
Decades prior, mysterious events led to a sudden clash between the Arendellians and the nomadic people, the Northuldra. The result caused a mist to surround the enchanted forest, trapping everyone inside with no way in or out. Elsa, called to the mist, is able to break through to discover its secrets, which she also finds also may explain more about her powers.
Frozen 2 features all the characters you know and love from the first film; Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven are back, with a few new players introduced here and there, such as Arendellian Lieutenant Destin Mattias (Sterling K. Brown) and Yelana (Martha Plimpton), unspoken leader of the Northuldra. For the most part, the new characters mix it up and add some diversity, but the original crew steals the show and is the main focus of the film.
While not new characters per say, the film explores the backstory and disappearance of Anna and Elsa’s parents, Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood) and King Agnarr (Alfred Molina). These two are by far are the most interesting characters (outside of the main quintet) because of they hold the answers to so many unanswered and new questions. However we only see glimpses of them in a few flashbacks and through stuck-in-time ice sculptures that Elsa is able to conjure up, leaving the audience wishing that we got a true prequel instead.
Anna and Elsa are the main stars, receiving the most screen time and character development. Many have asked, “Where did Elsa get her powers?”, so the filmmakers make an effort to answer that as part of Elsa’s quest. While Elsa continues to grow and understand more about her supernatural powers, Anna doesn’t seem to have any big problems to overcome, other than when her sister abandons her (yet again) to discover who she really is. Kristoff and Olaf are also still (occasionally) around so are given one-note subplots that drag on and get wrapped up too nicely in the end.
The songs in Frozen 2, written by Frozen veterans Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, are grand, epic, and catchy. While early, it seems we have another set of Disney classics on our hands, equal to the original and to Alan Menken’s work from the 90s. However, unlike the Disney Renaissance, the music of Frozen 2 is modern with every more Broadway fanfare, bringing freshness to the sequel’s soundtrack.
The musical range of the songs is impressive. From the flashback opener “All is Found”, a lullaby folktune Queen Iduna uses to sing to her girls to sleep, to “Some Things Never Change”, which reintroduces the main cast and serves as an opportunity to lay out all their struggles and emotions. Unexpectedly, the best song (and crowd favorite) is Kristoff’s “Show Yourself”, an 80s power ballad, complete with guitar riffs, hilarious music video visuals, and singing reindeer.
While Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” has been touted as the song to dethrone “Let It Go”, it’s really the powerful “Show Yourself” that takes the crown. This new song parallels “Let It Go” in many ways, from its absolutely stunning visuals as Elsa is exploring the limits of her powers to another icy dress and hair transformation. If you’ve ever wondered what Elsa looks like with her hair down, get ready because the reveal is worth the wait. While it is an obvious attempt to be the next “Let It Go”, the song is one of the pinnacles of the film.
Anna has a song near the end, “The Next Right Thing”, which helps keep the movie from being so front-loaded with songs, something from which the first film suffered. It’s a powerful anthem with a message that will resonate with those struggling to get the strength to how to move forward when the worst times come.
Not all the songs are a hit though. Olaf’s “When I Am Older” is a throwaway number that feels tacked on just like “In Summer” from the original film. In Frozen, Olaf’s obsession was heat; in Frozen 2, it’s all about getting older. This song gives him a chance to tell the audience about this fascination (as if he hadn’t been talking about it constantly throughout the film), but falls on deaf ears.
Visually, Frozen 2 wows yet again. The film juxtaposes the cool, icy palette of the first film with a warmer, Fall palette and is a welcome change. The animation, lighting, and special effects are top notch, showing the technological improvements made over the past six years. The visualization of Elsa’s magic and the advancements in animating ice and snow are especially dazzling to watch.
The scene where Elsa attempts to cross the sea is just as breathtaking as it was in the teaser trailer, carrying even more emotional weight as you now understand what she’s trying to accomplish. The Nokk, a mystical water horse that Elsa encounters on her journey, is fascinating and beautifully animated as well.
The character designs of Anna and Elsa get very subtle facelifts to show the age progression. The costumes are ornate and gorgeous, as always, and are certain to fly off store shelves once the film is released. The sisters have countless outfit changes throughout the film, making one thing that the Disney crew just couldn’t help themselves as they were designing costumes for everyone’s favorite princess pair.
Frozen 2 is a great film that continues to build the characters, world, and mythology that established so well in Frozen. It will surely satisfy fans, leaving them jumping for joy and singing the new songs for months to come. While the film tries to uncover the mystery behind Elsa’s powers and what happened to the princesses’ parents, it stumbles a few times along the way and leaves more unanswered questions than it answers. It’s not quite as emotional and satisfying as the first film, but it’s still a delight.