Return To Arendelle: Frozen II
Frozen II takes place a short time after Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) comes to power. She has learned to control her ability to freeze anything with just one touch. One autumn day, she starts to hear things that neither Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) nor anyone else can hear. The voices aren't Elsa's imagination, but these voices call to her. When the noises persist, Anna, her beloved Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and snowman friend Olaf (Josh Gad) start showing concern for their queen. The noises soon become voices, which Elsa follows into the Enchanted Forest that lies beyond Arendelle. That awakens forces known as the elementals, and their powers force Elsa to evacuate her kingdom. She leaves her citizens in the care of the Rock Trolls, who can provide a safe haven for the queen's subjects.
Elsa and the others eventually reach a point in the forest where they encounter a barrier. The elementals soon allow them access beyond that point, which contains the isolated kingdom of Northuldra. None of them had ever been to this place previously, but their father, King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) had been there as a boy. His father had commissioned a dam to link Northuldra and Arendelle. As they travel, Elsa encounters a series of ice sculptures that tell the story of what happened that day. Things did not go well, and eventually led to the elementals entrapping all inside the barrier, including some soldiers from Arendelle. Agnarr barely avoided confinement, thanks to a young woman who also escaped. Those two attempted to find Ahtoallan, source of magic for both the Northuldra and Elsa. Elsa gets there, but the elementals threaten to destroy everyone and everything connected to Arendelle.
Frozen II is a respectable sequel to the 2013 film, but the tone of this second entry is heavier than that of the first entry. The first movie did have an outside threat to Arendelle, but the spirits pose an even bigger threat. The elementals can even be seen as a symbol of climate change, and the damage that can be caused by the misuse of natural resources. The Northuldra did respect the good the elementals brought, but Agnarr's father had ulterior motives with regards to the Northuldra. Some of the message comes across as a bit awkward, especially in the portrayal of the Northuldra. They look and dress like Native Americans, and even live in tepees. The voice talent, which includes Martha Plimpton and Jason Ritter, don't really fit the images Disney created here. At another apparent attempt at a greater inclusiveness, Disney introduces Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), the Captain Of The Guard that accompanied the Arendelle royal family some 35 years earlier. The actors do fine, but these new characters seem like a force fit. Once again inspired by "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee were a part of the team who crafted the sequel story, and also assumed directing duties, as they had in the first film.
The real strength of Frozen II is the chemistry between Menzel and Bell as the royal sisters. While it's clear the sisters love one another, each wonders how they can protect the other. Elsa has always kept some distance because she can freeze things, but Anna wants to help her big sister deal with the forces that might destroy their kingdom. They do find a way to work together, though they often investigate the secrets of the elementals separately. Menzel continues to be the protective big sister, while Bell shows that Elsa's concerns will always be Anna's concerns. Groff and Gad provide most of the movie's comic moments. Groff. as Kristoff, spends most of the movie trying to find the right moment trying to ask Anna an important question. Gad is fun as Olaf, the snowman who gets to live throughout the year and remains loyal to his friends, though his knowledge of the film's main issue is not as mature due to his relative youth.
Over the years, Disney has had many formulas for success. Adapting Andersen's works has produced three of its most popular films. Before the Frozen films had huge success, the studio had a hit with The Little Mermaid in 1989. As was the case with The Little Mermaid, audiences have embraced the four main Frozen characters, as well as Kristoff's reindeer Sven. In both Frozen films, Elsa and Anna find a way to deal with a problem, in spite of the concerns their differences pose for one another. In Frozen II, they learn that everything and everyone they hold dear face serious trouble unless they can get to the root cause of the actions of the elementals. The film speaks to the respect of others and of nature with a heavier tone than its predecessor. Once again, the royal sisters are underestimated as they seek a proper resolution. Once again, they find the bonds of trust can overcome their conflicts and concerns.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Frozen II three stars. Into the unknown.
Frozen II trailer
© 2020 Pat Mills