For the first time in forever — six years to be exact — the world of “Frozen” has been brought back to the big screen.
“Frozen 2” picks up where the 2013 movie left off with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf as one big, happy family. But as Elsa begins hearing a siren’s voice, the movie quickly pivots toward a riveting plotline. This new “family” gets trapped in the Enchanted Forest after Elsa accidentally awakens the elements earth, wind, fire and water. The sisters must tame the elements, discover the truth about the past and find the fifth element — the voice that calls to Elsa — to free the people who were trapped in the Enchanted Forest by an impenetrable fog for more than 30 years.
The “Frozen 2” plot is significantly more advanced with darker scenes and more intense challenges, which helps keep the original fans — now older — as captivated as the first time around. While the storyline is well thought out and has excellent build-up, the solution to the characters’ challenge of bridging the gap between mankind and the elements seems a little too simple for all the time spent leading up to it. There was only one challenging task to solve everything; I expected a more difficult road from the climax to the resolution.
The movie opens with a flashback to when Elsa and Anna were younger. Little Anna’s exorbitant energy, fascination with stories and child-like need to ask questions captures the Anna at this age from the original movie. However, the actresses’ voices sounds different. Turns out, the actresses are the same as the original, but their change in voices in the six years between the movies is noticeable. Livvy Stubenrauch, young Anna, was eight when “Frozen” came out and 14 at the release of “Frozen 2.” Eva Bella, young Elsa, is now 17 and was 11 in 2013 for the first movie.
Older Elsa, played by Idina Menzel, reflects the same characteristics as she originally did: stubbornness, independence and unwillingness to let others get hurt because of her. Anna, played by Kristen Bell, is still as cute and goofy as in “Frozen” but with an even more headstrong and serious side when the plot calls for it.
Olaf, played by Josh Gad, is the star of the show. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck capitalized on this character after seeing the reaction to this ridiculous snowman in the first movie. As a nice touch, instead of having his own “personal flurries” like at the end of “Frozen,” Olaf now has permafrost, reflective snowflakes on his body that keep him from melting.
His new motto is that when he’s older, he’ll understand everything that’s happening, juxtaposed with adult-like statistics that he pulls out of thin air at the oddest moments. This includes his theory that water has memory, which becomes a central idea in the film. This makes him the perfect mix between an innocent child and a sophisticated adult who has nothing but love in him.
His best moment, though, is when he reenacts the first movie using incomplete, nonsensical phrases and abstract acting to try and fill in new characters who don’t know what happened prior to this scene. To anyone who doesn’t know the first movie, this is bound to be the most confusing explanation of the plot in history, but for avid fans, this is the most magnificent performance to date. Go ahead and try to hold in the laughter during this scene.
On a depressing note, snow starts flurrying away from Olaf when Elsa is in trouble until there’s nothing left of him. Flowers land on his pile of flurries like a grave, and Anna is left to assume the worst. While it’s obvious that Disney wouldn’t let two of the main characters die in a children’s movie, this scene is still a little too dark for the younger audience, and it wasn’t the only depressing scene. In another, the sisters see their parents clinging to each other moments before their death, an image that’s hard to look at — and not just for the characters.
Kristoff, played by Jonathan Groff, is as clumsy as always. From start to finish, he attempts to propose to Anna and gets held up by saying the wrong words or starting to ask at the wrong time. While this is an adorable touch that leaves the viewer feeling sorry for Kristoff every time he tries and fails, there’s one scene in particular that throws his character completely off.
This is when he has a solo in the woods. The song and performance are straight out of a cringe-worthy ’90s boyband music video. And to make it worse, Sven and other reindeer can suddenly talk for just this scene and sing backup, which makes no sense. I was really hoping this scene was a joke that they’d snap out of at the end of the song. To my disappointment, this wasn’t the case. More than anything, I’d like to know what was going through Lee and Buck’s heads and how this atrocious, corny scene wasn’t cut.
On a more positive note, the movie implements a new color scheme to match the plot. Instead of mainly light blues from the first film, earthy tones such as purples, browns and oranges are used instead. This is fitting since the plot is element-centric. The theme comes through the most in the characters’ clothing.
Elsa, famous for her glorious outfit switch from her coronation dress to her shimmering blue gown, has four major dress changes this time around. Anna also has four outfit changes, all with significance to the plot. This is especially meaningful and intentional in a Disney movie since Disney characters typically remain in one outfit per movie.
After the opening flashback, Anna begins the movie in a cream-colored and smooth-lined dress with tan and purple marks of Arendelle flaring out from her waistline — a pattern that matches Kristoff’s first outfit. This dress paired with a necklace and earrings shows Anna’s soft and playful nature while reflecting her growth from the first movie. Elsa starts out in a simple, lilac dress with a necklace. This off-the-shoulder look paired with her iconic braid from her original transformation shows how Elsa is free like she was in her ice castle, but this time, she’s back in Arendelle.
The sisters switch into their pajamas early on, with Elsa in a plum-colored nightgown and Anna in a green one, which is reminiscent of her green dress from “Frozen.” This casual wear shows their new comfort around each other after they mend their relationship in the first movie.
After this, Elsa changes into a three-quarter-length blue dress and thin coat with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Anna switches to a black three-quarter-length dress with a plum, sleeveless cloak — another outfit that matches Kristoff — and her hair down in a more natural look for scenes taking place in nature itself. Both sisters remove their cloaks while doing physically demanding tasks such as sprinting into the Dark Sea or jumping across cliffs to reveal pants beneath their dresses. This is a less stereotypical “princess” look and more of a realistic wardrobe attire for the challenges they’re overcoming, making “Frozen 2” yet another Disney movie that has a step in the right direction for women.
Finally, the fourth wardrobe change comes for Elsa in a climactic moment that mirrors her “Let It Go” transformation. This time, she ends up in a sparkling white gown with crystals on the bodice. And most importantly, her hair is down. Her hairstyles — from the tight bun at her coronation, to her braid, to the ponytail, to her final look with her hair down — represent the stages of Elsa’s feelings in each environment, ending in her freest state. Anna ends in her own coronation gown like that of Elsa’s, with her hair in the same braided bun that Elsa had in her ceremony to show the connection between the sisters and how time changes.
The soundtrack is arguably the hardest component that the sequel had to compete with from the first. “Let It Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “For the First Time in Forever,” “Love is An Open Door” and more had fans singing along and parents in desperate need of earplugs for the past six years. While the new soundtrack doesn’t even begin to compete with these classics, “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” are earth-shattering. Idina Menzel’s voice radiates chills in what’s bound to be the new hits on repeat.
The best way to end this review is with the final scene. Elsa rides across the surface of the Black Sea on her tamed water horse, hair down and free — and alone. She’s independent and content that way. Once again, Disney made the right choice to not fill the role of a man in her life because, as shown in “Frozen,” a knight in shining armor isn’t needed to find true happiness.
Contact Shanna Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.