Surprisingly, my life isn’t 100% consumed by movies. When I’m not watching movies, I am also a major sports fan. No sport is safe for my viewing, as I will watch anything from baseball, basketball, and golf to bizarre sports you might find on ESPN 8: The Ocho. One of the narratives that’s always interested me in sports is when great players retire and the players who fill their position the following season. I’m thinking of when Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1998 and being replaced by Brent Barry at shooting guard the following season. Or Derek Jeter retiring from the New York Yankees in 2014 and Didi Gregorious replacing him at short stop. After years of being so used to having greatness at one position, the player replacing a legend had the pressure of following greatness.
2013’s Frozen was an absolute juggernaut. Making $400 million at the domestic box office (and $1.4 billion world wide, respectively) and winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, along with capturing the hearts of every little girl across America who still, six years later, still belt out “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs. Frozen was and is still a cultural phenomenon, which only means one thing: we were getting a sequel.
Frozen II faced the issue that I mentioned above with Brent Barry and Didi Gregorious in that it had to follow in the footsteps of greatness. No matter your opinion of the film, there is no denying how big of a movie Frozen was and how much people, both adults and kids, like it. I myself am a big fan of the film and think it holds up really well on repeated viewings. Trying to make a sequel that reached the height of the first one was going to be an almost impossible task.
Frozen II fails to reach the heights of the first one but it is far from a bad movie. There are a lot of aspects to like, such as the animation and the story elements, but the film’s attempt to replicate “Let It Go” and the overly ambitious plot ultimately hurt the film.
Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathon Groff), and Sven are all living peacefully in Arendelle. Anna likes that things are consistently the same and that everyone is happy. However, there is a change on the horizon. Kristoff is contemplating proposing to Anna but can’t seem to find the right words, Olaf is learning more about life, and Elsa feels there is more she can do with her powers. When a mysterious spirit nearly destroys Arendelle, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven go on a journey to discover an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. Their journey takes them on an adventure that reveals the origin of Elsa’s powers and how she might be the key to saving Arendelle.
One of the best parts about Frozen was that it wasn’t a romantic love story but a love story about the bond between sisters. This idea is also one of the best parts of Frozen II. Frozen II looks at the relationship between Anna and Elsa as the two have grown up and how the two are forced to grow apart. With Elsa being essentially a superhero, she can do more things than Anna can and take more risks, which forces her to do some things on her own that Anna cannot do. Anna refuses to accept this and still believes that her and Elsa are to do everything together no matter how dangerous or her limitations. Anna also has Kristoff in her life, a part of her life that is more important than she thinks. Frozen II looks at the bond of sisterhood and how when we grow older and mature, we can’t be dependent on the one’s we are closest too and must accept that everything won’t be always be the same forever.
The animation is gorgeous. The color pallet, especially in the new enchanted forrest, lights up the screen. The animation team also gets really creative in some scenes, especially when the film leaves Arrendale and the enchanted forest to a mysterious island. There are some pretty intense action scenes, too, that really give the film a spark. I was particularly impressed by the sequence in which Elsa crosses the Dark Sea and must battle a spirit horse that is made entirely out of water.
The plot gets a little messy at the end, but what Frozen II is really missing is that killer song. They tried their hardest to replicate “Let It Go”, so much so that the melody to a couple of the songs sound very similar to “Let It Go”, but I was never blown away like I was with “Let It Go”, a scene and song that still give me chills to this day. “Into the Unknown” is catchy enough that it will probably be the song little girls latch on to, as well as be the song that gets nominated for the Oscar. But the standout song is surprisingly Kristoff’s 80’s power ballad, “Lost in the Woods”, which is so fun and sweet and also animated like a cheesy 80’s music video which gives the whole number a nice touch.
Though missing that legendary tune and lacking some more emotional weight, Frozen II is a movie that is endlessly entertaining, exciting, gorgeous, and continues its themes of the relationship between sisters. It might not be a Hall of Famer like the first one, but fans will be pleased with this sequel.
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