It’s time to let ‘Frozen’ go
Disney had dipped its toes in the theme of girl-power before, with classics featuring strong leading ladies like “Mulan,” “Tangled” and “The Princess and the Frog,” but it wasn’t until the premiere of “Frozen” that the phenomenon of female empowerment in animated cinema was truly born. The release of “Frozen” sparked the demand for pale-blue, Elsa-esque dresses and auburn, Anna-style braids and a record of “Let It Go” on a never-ending loop. A revolutionary tale, any “Frozen” sequel was destined to fall short of the original. Despite its memorable, Broadway-quality voiced characters and inventive plotline, “Frozen 2” still feels repetitive and doesn’t quite live up to its iconic predecessor.
Picking up where “Frozen” left off, “Frozen 2” begins in the kingdom of Arendelle, where Elsa’s (Idina Menzel, “Rent”) powers have been embraced by the people, Anna (Kristen Bell, “Veronica Mars”) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff, “Mindhunter”) are happily coupled and sidekicks Olaf (Josh Gad, “Pixels”) and Sven the reindeer are perfectly content. At first, it seems that happily ever after has finally arrived. But when Elsa starts hearing mysterious voices calling to her in the night, it soon becomes clear that something isn’t right, and Arendelle is in jeopardy. To save the Kingdom from impending doom, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven must journey to the enchanted forest, unveiling new truths about their pasts and setting the course for their futures with every step.
Central to the success of “Frozen” were Anna and Elsa’s contrasting personalities and familial tension. Anna was the fun-loving, optimistic and wide-eyed little sister who just wanted love and adoration from her elder sister, whereas Elsa was the troubled, more-seasoned one perpetually trapped in a hero’s journey archetype. While the clash between the sisters was acceptable in “Frozen,” their constant bickering about protecting one another from danger and overall misalignment is tiring in “Frozen 2.” Each sister is always trying to protect the other, justifying irrationality with love. Though at first touching, the back and forth “I love you more” narrative quickly wears down and ultimately weakens the pacing of the film.
Aside from the characters, what “Frozen” was known and loved for was its unforgettable music. Much like the other elements of the film, “Frozen 2” dropped the ball on the music, failing to distinguish any one song as a hit. Despite Menzel and Bell’s outstanding vocals, the majority of numbers throughout the film are, to our disappointment, relatively unmemorable. Only time will tell whether any of the songs will stick, but it doesn’t look like any tunes will be deposing “Let It Go” from its musical throne.
In truth, there wasn’t anything wrong with “Frozen 2.” But it didn’t wow, and that’s a standard all Disney sequels are (with good reason) expected to meet. More than anything, “Frozen 2” proves that it takes more than a new plotline and a fresh set of songs to craft an innovative sequel. While ages 10 and under will likely still appreciate the charm of Disney’s new release, older audiences will grimace at the lack of character evolution and catchy lyrics that it offers.