A more mature, high-stakes story blended with amazing music makes for a near-perfect film
Picture it, if you will: a particular girl has just turned 14 and has spent the entire year obsessing over a little movie called Frozen. It’s what she lives and breathes for a good few months after she finally sees the movie on opening weekend. Whether it was the release of short films like Frozen Fever or the version of Frozen that is currently on Broadway, that phase of her life always came back in full force. Naturally, when the teaser trailer for the sequel dropped last February, that part of her was back again.
In case you haven’t guessed at this point, that particular girl was and is me. Fourteen-year-old me lived and breathed everything Frozen related, latching onto the story in a way that I hadn’t in a while. As the years went on, I watched Frozen Fever (and adored it for its simplicity), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (and loved all the parts that weren’t centred around Olaf) and have rocked out to the original cast recording of the Broadway musical more than I’d care to admit. I had high expectations for this film, to say the least, and knew I had to see it right away (which I did, this past Saturday at 10 p.m. at the Cineplex in Dieppe).
The first Frozen wrapped things up in a neat little bow with just enough lingering questions to keep audiences hooked, and the filmmakers rely heavily on those questions to create the plot of this sequel. Everything is picture-perfect in the kingdom of Arendelle, until Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel, who brings a Broadway-calibre performance to both song and dialogue) begins hearing a mysterious voice calling out to her and only her. In an attempt to answer its call, Elsa awakens the elemental spirits from the enchanted forest that her parents had told her and her sister stories about. In order to save Arendelle, she sets out with Anna (played by Kristen Bell, keeping Anna’s fun nature while also adding in a new layer of protectiveness over her sister), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff, who has significantly more to do plot-wise than in the original), and Olaf (Josh Gad, whose more “mature” snowman gets better jokes that all land while still having touching moments over the course of the film).
Because the film just came out, this is all I’m at liberty to say about the plot. Nobody wants to know exactly what happens in a movie when going in, but that is especially the case here – it needs to be seen to be believed. The story has grown up with its audience in a way I hadn’t expected, and therefore raises the stakes significantly. We do get answers about the main question of the film (where Elsa’s powers come from), but how it’s revealed is such a stunning visual sequence that I urge you to see it as soon as possible so you don’t have it spoiled.
What I can talk about is the soundtrack. Songs are written by the duo behind the first film’s score, Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who not only wrote new songs for the shorts and the Broadway musical, but a slew of new songs for this film as well. While I will say the film uses Into the Unknown the same way as the first did Let It Go (and therefore will probably win the Best Original Song award at the Oscars this year), Elsa’s song from the third act, Show Yourself, is in my opinion a stronger song and has just as much performance potential. Show Yourself changes Elsa’s character in a way I never saw coming, and is the definition of a power ballad.
Speaking of power ballads, Kristoff gets one, and it truly doesn’t disappoint. Lost In The Woods not only gives the male hero a song about his feelings for his love interest, but also gives older audience members a number that is chock-full of fun visuals cut straight from an 80s music video. It’s like if Bon Jovi were in a Disney movie. Anna gets a solo song herself called The Next Right Thing that also comes in the third act, and while I can’t say much, I can say that this song has a powerful message of getting back up again when you’ve reached your lowest point and just how hard that can be.
Did this sequel live up to the hype? Absolutely. Do I think it’s going to catch fire the same way that the first one did? I would be very surprised if it didn’t. This movie has a very strong fan base and is a huge financial win for Disney between the merchandising, the theme parks and the films themselves. Still, don’t let the over-playedness sway you from seeing this movie. It is poignant, funny and clearly isn’t a sequel that was slapped together for the sake of making another movie. This second installment has all the heart and soul of the first one, and so many surprises that, again, I recommend seeing it as soon as possible so you don’t get spoiled by anyone else who is as big a fan of the franchise as I am. Frozen II is a feast for the eyes, ears and heart, and is not to be missed by anyone.