So, I finally saw Frozen II. I admit, I was on the fence about seeing it at first. Sequels tend to not be as good as the originals they’re based on, and then there’s the issue of the sequel having to both live up to the original film and be a strong enough story on its own. That being said, a friend of mine saw it before me and said that she enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a chance.
After watching it in the theatre with my boyfriend, I was struck by an amazing realization about my feelings toward this film. This may be a controversial opinion, but I’ve got to be honest.
I actually like Frozen II a lot more than its predecessor.
Now, hear me out. This doesn’t mean that I think Frozen is a bad flick. It’s interesting and offers a unique take on magic that I didn’t expect out of a Disney film. However, there is one major drawback that I can’t overlook.
Hans being the bad guy doesn’t add up – not because he’s a bad villain – but because his villainy was thrown in at the very last minute when, really, the film could have theoretically gotten by without one and just had the conflict be Elsa and Anna trying to figure out how to stop the endless winter.
This is where Frozen II excels. There actually isn’t a recognizable villain in it – not in a straightforward sense, anyway. The conflict is Anna and Elsa trying to figure out how to save Arendelle after Elsa accidentally wakes a powerful, restless spirit the girls’ father told them about when they were children. This allows the two of them to work together to try to appease the spirit so Arendelle can live in peace again. And, since that’s the basic plot, let’s dive in, shall we?
There’s a lot more to unpack here than there would have been if I just decided to review the original Frozen (don’t go looking for it – I never did) but the complexity is one of the things I like about the story.
The first thing I want to discuss is the story the King tells Anna and Elsa in the film’s opening. I really like that the story is tied into the plot almost seamlessly. I do admit, it is much more complex than the plot of the original film, so it’s kind of hard to explain.
Because of the complexity, I felt a little lost hearing the story. Normally, I would consider this a drawback and dock the film for it, but I think the story being vague was intentional, given that there is a big reveal at the end about it.
The dark twist that Elsa finds out about the story was incredible to see! It made the film a lot more mature than the original, and I really like that about it. The film’s obvious self-awareness about this maturity is also great, particularly with Olaf contemplating the idea of growing up.
Elsa’s character arc takes on some mature themes as well. It was nice seeing her struggle with finding herself. I like how it becomes obvious that, in searching for the voice only she can hear, Elsa is trying to find out who she herself is.
Elsa’s journey to find the voice is a lot of fun to see. I particularly enjoyed the sequence of her trying to wade through the ocean. Seeing her tame the water horse spirit and ride it to Ahtohallan was pretty amazing, and I love how it’s seamlessly tied into the rest of the story, to the point where the horse becomes important later on.
Anna’s arc is great, too. I like that it’s tied into her conflict in the first film when she wanted to see Elsa more often. The resulting overprotective nature she has toward Elsa in this film provides clear conflict as Anna has to come to grips with the fact that she may not always be able to protect her.
I also like Anna’s reaction to Elsa and Olaf’s deaths. Seeing her grieve for them was heartbreaking. That being said, seeing her come to grips with the losses and then immediately set out to set things right was really great, showing that Anna is just as important as Elsa in the story.
The maturity of the storyline also made most of the songs more enjoyable than the ones in the first film. Again, it’s not that the songs from the original aren’t enjoyable, it’s just that the songs in Frozen II had a bigger impact on my reaction than the others.
That being said, this is mostly regarding Anna and Elsa’s songs, as I found Olaf and Kristoff’s numbers to be a little annoying. The reason for this is because I kind of felt like they intruded on the main plot and weren’t strong enough to constitute the subplots occurring in the film.
Now, I’ve mentioned that this film is more mature than the original. This darker tone comes in a couple of different instances, and they all were incredible! I like how the story of Anna and Elsa’s grandfather is the first hint of this, as we see the clear conflict the main plot will branch off from.
I love how we’re told just enough about the Northuldran and Arendellian tribes so that we’re invested in the story, but the darker part of that story is kept from us, only to be unraveled by Elsa’s personal journey (no, I’m not revealing that darker twist).
I love how the parents have a clear role in the story as well, and we finally find out why they took that fateful journey in the first film. I didn’t really expect the story to tie so well into the first one, and it’s easily one of the strongest aspects of this sequel!
Now, from a technical standpoint, Frozen II is an improvement over the original. The animation has been upped, the little details are easier to spot, and it makes the film all the more engrossing!
In terms of animation, I love the sequences like the one during “Into the Unknown.” The imagery during said sequence is absolutely breathtaking! It reminded me a lot of a light show, where there’s lit up outlines of things like trees and bushes, and it was awesome!
Speaking of breathtaking visuals, seeing Elsa shed her old dress and – literally – let her hair down in the “Show Yourself” sequence was easily one of the best parts! I wanted to cry in the theatre when that scene was going on, as it showed Elsa finally coming to find herself and what role she plays in the larger story.
As a whole, Frozen II is leagues better than the original in terms of story, animation, and music. It takes the awesome story Frozen tells and expands upon it in unique and beautiful ways. The story is suspenseful, funny, and full of heart, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final credits roll. It is definitely something that I would recommend to any Frozen fan.