Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Frozen II - Review

Disney basically runs the world these days, but in 2013, it was only the beginning. Only a few years after acquiring Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney Animation was still largely caught in a string of critical disappointments or mediocre box office receipts. That is, until Frozen happened. The 2013 film took the world by storm, breaking numerous records, becoming Disney’s most successful animated film ever, and even picking up a couple of Oscars. Six years later, the sequel has arrived, but can it recapture the magic of the original?

Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) embark on an adventure far away from the kingdom of Arendelle in order to save their home from magical spirits. They are joined by friends, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven as they journey into the unknown reaches of an enchanted forest.

One thing worth noting about most every new Disney animated film, or Pixar even if we want to cover all Disney animation, is the animation always seems to take a step up in some regard, even if it’s a minor improvement. In six year’s time, a lot can change in animation, and thus, a lot can look better. Now don’t be mistaken, the animation in the original Frozen was great, they put a ton of effort into simulating snow that looked and functioned in a real way, but Frozen II is flat out gorgeous in so many ways.
Particular sequences obviously will stand out amongst the rest, and for Frozen II they just happen to revolve around the music as well. The songs this go around are just as good, if not better, than the first soundtrack offerings. Music and animation combine to make some truly memorable scenes, most notably “Into the Unknown”, as Elsa’s newest ballad, “Lost in the Woods”, a tribute to 80s music videos in the weirdest way, and “Show Yourself”, the emotional climax and arguably the best song in the film (at least in this critics opinion). It’ll be hard for people to hold this music above the first’s, but it wholly deserves to be held as an equal.

Where Frozen II might stumble for some viewers is the story. The first film wasn’t a revolutionary narrative, it just featured a thematic shift from the norm of fairy tales. The second infuses a little more mythology and world-building, something that was bound to happen with magic involved, and goes to a darker place with the story it wants to tell. This sequel story isn’t terribly new either, but it serves the purpose of moving the characters forward, changing their lives, and ending in a different place than it began, setting up the inevitable third part for 2025.

Frozen II has an uphill battle in front of it, but it certainly has all the tools to make the climb. Featuring more phenomenal music that easily rivals the original’s soundtrack, beautiful animation, and a story that offers plenty of opportunities for the characters everyone loves to interact, grow, and evolve, the film is a worthy sequel and more than justifies its existence. While many will argue it doesn’t actually recapture the magic of the first, few sequels do, Frozen II is another win for Disney, and well on its way to taking audiences by storm again.

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