When Frozen was first announced, I was excited as both a Veronica Mars fan and Wicked fan to witness Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel voice act and sing for the upcoming Disney animated feature. In 2013, on the day of release, I rushed to the cinema and was blown away by the incredible storytelling, relatable characters, the amazing songs, and that iconic cinematic magical moment when Elsa was free for the first time to practice magic without fear. I, like many other Disney fans, never predicted the commercial success and cultural phenomenon that the film and its music would have. Cut to 2019, we are all a little bit older, hopefully a lot wiser, and so are our favourite folk from Arendelle.
What is the origin of Elsa’s power? Why does she have powers? Did she inherit them? And whatever happened to her parents? Where were they going and why? Despite how conclusive the initial Frozen may have seemed, it left many unanswered questions; questions which are finally answered in Frozen 2.
An unnatural winter, a birthday and an Olaf Christmas later, it is now autumn in Arendelle, the gates are open, and it seems everyone is happy. But all this pure joy and perfection changes when Elsa starts hearing a voice call for her. Following her instincts, Elsa is accompanied by Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf to find the source of the mysterious voice.
While Elsa’s goal is to seek and discover the location of the siren call, Anna wants to support her sister and is shown as the more responsible and serious sister this time, unlike in the first film where she appeared more happy-go-lucky and a bit naïve. Kristoff is now blonder, manlier, appearing to also live in the palace with the Arendelle sisters, as he is an in an official relationship with Anna and desires to settle down. Sven, the lovable reindeer is supportive as always of his human best mate. And Olaf, quite possibly the heart of the Frozen franchise, is completely self-aware, often breaking the fourth wall to stare down viewers and comment that everyone has gotten older.
Frozen 2 is an adventure mystery fantasy in comparison to its predecessor, which focused more on the themes of ‘good versus evil’. I applaud this change in direction and find it refreshing. Instead of focusing on one definitive ‘bad guy’, our favourite Arendelle sisters face their past, give into curiosity, and inherit responsibility into shaping the future. While the film does have some humorous moments, its tone is essentially more serious, a change which I welcomed and enjoyed.
Pushing the love story part to the side as it did with the first film, Frozen 2 focuses on the journeys of the sisters and their desire to uncover the truth. 6 years after the initial film, technology has advanced, making the visuals even more beautiful and stunning than ever before. Setting the story in autumn also helps improve the colour palette of the film, with lots of brown, yellow, pink and red being used. The landscapes shown in Frozen 2 are so pretty, you could hit pause almost anywhere, print and frame the screenshots. While Olaf and Sven appear to be the same, Elsa, Anna and Kristoff look good with their new costume designs, my favourite being Anna’s get-up complete with a purple cape looking robe which I so want to have in my wardrobe.
While there is no definitive single iconic song from Frozen 2, the film makes up for it by having several incredible songs created by the same songwriters from the original film, husband and wife song-writing duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, also known for their works on Broadway with Tony Award winning musicals, Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.
Firstly, “All Is Found” is a beautiful slow tale, sounding like an old folk song that has been around for years. With Evan Rachel Wood’s surprisingly impressive vocals, the song contains both warmth and foreshadowing. Olaf’s “When I Am Older” is one of the more fun numbers of the film where Olaf is self-aware of the time passed both in the film’s timeline and in real life. Josh Gad does a great job at making Olaf sound innocent, but also unexpectedly sassy.
“Into the Unknown” is the song that is the most exposed from the new film. But this is because it not only showcases Idina Menzel’s epic vocals once again while also giving hints to artist AURORA’s talents, but it narratively and lyrically doesn’t give away any spoilers of the storyline.
Making up for not having a proper solo song in the first film, Frozen 2 lovingly gives Kristoff the much needed solo that he deserves with “Lost in the Woods”, an ’80s inspired, Peter Cetera “Glory of Love” sounding, pining and romantic power ballad which Broadway bae Jonathan Groff sings both beautifully and effortlessly. Despite the song sounding serious, the animation accompanying the love song provides much needed humour in the film. Not to be outdone, Kristen Bell’s Anna too finally gets her solo with, “The Next Right Thing”, which is played at a pivotal moment of heartbreak, showcasing Bell’s incredible vocals and acting talents.
But despite Kristoff’s song almost winning me over completely, the song that stood out the most and moved me emotionally, while visually captivating and enchanting me, would be “Show Yourself”. Not only have I not been able to stop listening to this song since seeing the film, but it is also by far Menzel’s strongest and most emotional vocal performance in the Frozen franchise, hands down. Also returning to the Frozen franchise is score composer, Christophe Beck, marrying the two films together with his brilliant compositions.
Having viewed this film in both a normal cinema and IMAX, I strongly suggest heading to an IMAX cinema to see Frozen 2. The experience is immersive, you really feel like you are right there with Anna and Elsa on their journey. If the visuals weren’t breathtaking enough already, they’re even more impressive on a larger screen. Living in Melbourne, I was lucky to view this film on currently – the largest cinema screen in the world. The 3D element is clear, distinctive and only compliments this wonderful film even more. It is an absolute must-see in IMAX.
Frozen 2 is powerful, passionate, sublime and is just as strong as its predecessor, making it the ultimate companion piece to the initial film that started the phenomenon – exactly 6 years ago. Fans of all ages will fall in love with this incredibly impressive musical film, and so they should. It is a masterpiece, and I loved it.