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Frozen II – Movie Review

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Frozen II – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

With Frozen, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and the artists at Walt Disney Animation made a fairy tale in the studio’s classic tradition, with memorable songs, princesses to root for, a funny sidekick and stunning animation. The film also worked due to its exploration of Elsa the Snow Queen trying to hide her magical abilities and what arises from this. Making a sequel to a fairy tale with a definitive end can be tricky, as also proven by the many direct-to-video sequels Disney used to produce. Thankfully, Frozen II is able to continue developing the characters with Anna getting the strongest arc this time. Buck and Lee also use the sequel as an opportunity to further explore Norwegian culture. While the first film is arguably better, Frozen II retains the enchantment we have come to expect from Disney’s animated output.

Anna and Elsa’s sisterly bond was an important part of Frozen and the movie makes a good decision to jump ahead a few years to show how they have somewhat matured since the first film. In Frozen II, Elsa seeks to understand her past, while Anna is trying to navigate her future. Kristoff is also given his own compelling story arc, even if it’s mostly played for laughs. Olaf continues to serve as an entertaining comic relief, although the filmmakers are smart in when to use him. The central conflict that affects Arrendelle in the sequel provides the needed drama that gets the plot moving. There’s a particular emphasis on facing one’s own history and the Disney artists have come up with imaginative ways of showing this.

Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are probably aware they can’t replicate what they accomplished with the first film, which leads to a bit of experimentation in Frozen II. The best song surprisingly belongs to Kristoff, who sings an ‘80s-style rock ballad that is hilarious and also effectively shows the emotions he’s feeling. One could argue Elsa’s song “Show Yourself” is the film’s equivalent to “Let It Go”, but the Lopezes are still able to give it a different sound. Meanwhile, Olaf gets a fun little ditty about dealing with the strange and new. The sequel’s songs give Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell a real workout and both should be commended for their impressive performances.

The animation team has gone all out with the visuals, helped by the variety of colour palettes in the new locations. Frozen II opts for an autumn setting, giving the film a slightly different look from its predecessor. Buck and Lee take even more inspiration from the legends of Norwegian mythology, which adds to the imagination here. On a similar note, Frozen II nicely embraces Sámi culture, which was only briefly alluded to in the first film. The effects artists are given the task of expanding on Elsa’s ice powers and visually conveying the new sources of magic presented to us. Their efforts lead to some amazing imagery. The character animators have also stepped up their game, with Anna serving at the stand-out. She has to emotionally go through a lot in Frozen II, all of which are properly conveyed through her facial expressions.

Frozen II doesn’t have quite the tightness of the blockbuster movie that came before it, but Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee still prove to have a real understanding of their characters and successfully explore new avenues for them. The imagination often associated with Disney’s animated productions comes through, especially when witnessing the remarkable animation created by the artists. This is a sequel that doesn’t attempt to repeat the successful story beats that were already successful before. Frozen II does take some chances and brings Anna and Elsa to the next logical point in their journey.

Stefan Ellison

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