At the end of Disney’s “Frozen” we were left with a story of sisterly love being strong enough to save a kingdom and an album of songs we couldn’t get out of our head. There were also a number of unanswered questions from the film including, where did Elsa’s powers come from, what really happened to Anna & Elsa’s parents, where are all the other reindeer, and would Kristoff finally get his own solo number. This Thanksgiving we can be thankful for getting an answer to all those questions and more in “Frozen 2.”
The creators of “Frozen 2” have expanded the world of Arendelle in a believable way. There’s a northern land, an indigenous tribe of people whose songs and stories literally run through the culture of Arendelle, and elemental magic that seems closely related to Elsa’s. There is also a dark past that must be confronted before the people of the kingdom can progress.
By adding an expansionist backstory and the resolution (which I’ll avoid due to spoilers), the movie sheds light on issues we’re all still dealing with as western cultures. It’s important criticism of how the imperialist mindset can wreck havoc with indigenous peoples, destroy our natural resources, and even risk destroying our own way of life. Just ignoring the problem won’t make it go away either.
If that’s not a metaphor for today, I don’t know what is. In many ways I think it makes “Frozen 2” even more subversive than its predecessor.
All that serves as the impetus behind Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) next adventure. Elsa is feeling the call to find out more about who she is and the answer lies in the “enchanted forest” a place her parents warned her could cause a lot of harm. Elsa, accompanied by her sister and friends, knowing she must go into the unknown to get the answers she needs, set off on a quest where everything is at risk for her and the kingdom of Arendelle.
In some ways, Frozen 2 is the most GenX animated film to come from Disney. There’s the 80’s-inspired power ballad “Lost in the Woods” sung by Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and covered by Weezer in the credits music (could it be any more GenX?), Anna and Elsa have to confront the sins of previous generations if they want to learn to govern, and Olaf (Josh Gad) dials up the goofiness including a song about how things will make sense when he’s older (even though every GenXer in the audience knows things will never make sense).
Disney being in the business of making money, there are also plenty of new merchandise opportunities, including a little newt that may steal the hearts of movie goers. While the movie doesn’t have any songs that appear to have the massive earworm generating powers of “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” they are all strong numbers from family of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez who brought you the original Oscar winning music.
Together “Frozen 2” adds up to an film that works on many levels. You can sit back and enjoy it for the strong musical numbers (of which there are many more than the original, which kind of forgot it was a musical in the 2nd half), follow it for the sense of adventure, there’s a lot more sisterly love on display, and there’s plenty of trademark Disney humor that kids take in one way but adults understand in another deeper more human way.
Disney’s “Frozen 2” is out in theaters now.