If you have seen enthusiastic little girls singing out “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs, then both you and I are connected to Frozen (2013), and it’s sequel, Frozen 2, at some point in our lives. Rarely there’s any one song that defines a movie so much like “Let It Go” did to Frozen, and if that is not a perfect example, then I am not sure what else will be.
Frozen means so much to little kids now, as much as how the animated Aladdin and The Lion King meant to us as we grew up, if you happen to be an 80’s kid. The story was unique and original. The characters were relentlessly memorable, and the songs were catchy as hell.
If you had some reservations about Frozen 2, judging from how there was a sequel to The Lion King in 1998 that nobody talked about, or the diluted experience in Aladdin 2: Return of Jafar, then your skepticism is warranted. Frozen is an award-winning animated film, and Disney is literally asking for a sequel that can command equal success, or yield even better results than the film which started it all.
And if you want to ask someone to do a favor for you, twice, what’s a better idea than getting that same person to it again for the second time? It’s a true delight to see not just the voice actors, but rather an almost complete list of key persons returning and putting their efforts together for a sequel to their previous masterpiece.
Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel again voiced for Anna and Elsa, respectively, and not too far off the iconic princess-duo, Jonathan Groff provided the voice of Kristoff, the charming iceman. Of course, Olaf the cheeky, mystical snowman returned, with Josh Gad voicing him over, again. What comes next, is an exact mimic of names which appeared in Frozen, and its sufficient to mention that the directors, producer, writers and songwriters all remained the same.
I can’t stress enough how significant that is. Often times, studios sign up a different team to continue the work of a previous one, and the sequels can give varying levels of experience and feel. I don’t have to go lengthy, but the recent ‘true sequel’ of the Terminator franchise would have given you a strong idea.
As soon as the reel starts to unwind, Frozen 2 pulls you back into Arendelle, but it’s noticeably different this time around. After 6 years of film-making advancement, one Golden Globe Award and more than 1.2 billion dollars of revenue, the magical world of Arendelle marched forward correspondingly with better animation details and even yummier color tones. Not that the previous film’s color tones were a slouch, but it’s a little shocking how Frozen 2 has managed to push the limits of animated movies, palette wise, and pixel wise.
Palette wise, I suspect that Olaf were given a carrot nose to complete that ever-so-beautiful “orange and teal” look against many of the films’ backdrops, and this motive continues in Frozen 2. This, together with other creative expressions of color when Olaf is at the backstage, brings a cinematic experience which just couldn’t be attained with any other animated film to date. The color palette accumulates darkness as Elsa and Anna’s journey propels into uncertainty, which gives Frozen 2 a more grown-up appeal as Arendelle’s fate approaches its defining moment. Which, is plenty delightful, as I stand by my long-established theory that film stories or visuals that grow immature towards the ending are hardly anyone’s thing.
Pixels in Frozen 2 grew in density even though the last I checked, my local cinema did not adopt any state-of-the-art projector system. Hence, I attribute the perceived increase of clarity with the animators’ tremendous effort to refine each frame of Frozen 2 which had made it into the final cut. The commitment of the animators and colorists of Frozen 2 have created such a mesmerizing visual spectacle, that the remaining question left in me was how the musical scores and story-line were going to inject soul and character into the already good-looking film.
This, again, led me to the discovery of yet another facet of Frozen 2 that they have done it right. Only time could tell whether “Let It Go”’s spiritual successor, “Into the Unknown”, can achieve that iconic status of the former, but as far as the songs in Frozen 2 are concerned, all of them are sufficiently catchy, with plenty of out-of-the-box surprises. “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” feel undeniably special, or cool even, because both of them were built and layered upon a ‘siren’s call’, which plays an integral part within the plot.
Still, that amount of surprise did not measure up against another occasion when Frozen 2 unleashed a heavily 80’s-inspired song that feels plucked from Bryan Adams’, or Chicago’s album. Was it odd? For sure it was, but considering how the song perfects the scene’s funny, entertaining, nostalgic and naive personality, well, I guess it worked.
And for a genre as feather-light as an animated film, the story does feel responsibly obliged to answer whatever questions that the audience may had after seeing the first film. How does Elsa acquire her magical powers? What happened to her parents prior to their passing? Frozen 2 confidently tackled those questions head-on like an adult, but built the plot upon layers after layers of mystery. While the topical question in Frozen sounds more like “What will happen next?”, Frozen 2 thrives on “What actually happened?”.
In comparison to Frozen, Frozen 2’s script felt more multidimensional because it delves into the past to save something in the present, frequently accompanied by ample dosages of humor, romance and even a slight tinge of horror along the way. Director-cum-writer Jennifer Lee had managed to keep the script lean and with a consistent pace, as the 103 minutes-worth of Frozen 2 seems to fly by effortlessly, never at once felt draggy. Occasionally, the comically rebellious Olaf breaks out of the norm and pulls off some truly hilarious antics, but even then, that is not carelessly overplayed.
Right up to this point, even myself is confused whether I’m actually writing a review or a sales copy for Frozen 2, because quite frankly, it was impossible for me to find faults with the film. I certainly did not expect the film to play out that well, more so after witnessing Elsa’s growing superhero-like powers in the trailers.
With Maleficent: Mistress of Evil becoming the most recent victim of giving up authenticity in favor of mimicking superhero-film extravagance, it was my genuine worry that Frozen 2 would suffer the same fate. Fortunately, I was wrong, and Frozen 2 had all the means to draw a thick, defined line that separates Elsa from Carol Danvers.
Inversely, that moment when Elsa braves through the lightning-lit, stormy dark seas and what happens next have become the most iconic and memorable scene in the film. What’s born right after is a shockingly stylish yet original interconnection between two characters, which is bound to get carried over to the third film if it ever takes shape.
And taking shape gracefully they did, as far as on-screen materials are concerned. The amount of creative proposition found within everything on screen is just mind bending. With the hypnotically well-designed spirits and Elsa’s costumes, it’s hard to look away from the screen, and it remained that way until the credits roll.
Yes. Frozen 2 has done it. Despite the towering status that the first film has achieved, and the tremendous expectation towards this sequel, the Frozen franchise (is that a thing now?) has returned with a more capable sequel that retains the magic of the first one, yet did it better in terms of plot-depth, visuals, humor, and more importantly, style. It’s a living proof of what could possibly be achieved by the same group of talented people that put their minds and efforts together, when the product of their previous hard-work is at stake. Even if animated films are not your cup of tea, I believe that Frozen 2 has enough appeal to break that barrier, and is a rare animated-masterpiece that shouldn’t be missed.–The Film Addict