The massive global popularity of 2013’s Frozen made the idea of a sequel inevitable. As with most follow-ups, the question of whether or not the magic could be recaptured loomed heavily over the prospects for Frozen 2. The sheer number of memorable songs from the first trip to Arendelle set a fairly high bar that seemed almost impossible to top.
Frozen 2 never really feels like a movie trying to one-up its predecessor. Set against the backdrop of an autumn palette, aging is a predominant theme of the narrative. In this regard, the film wields the six year gap between installments to its advantage, using the timeless anxiety that many feel toward the passage of time to fuel a number of its songs.
The actual plot is a bit convoluted. Elsa and Anna’s grandfather was involved in a conflict with the tribe of Northuldra, which angered the elemental spirits who encased a forest with a mist that trapped everyone inside. In the present day, the spirits have a strange connection to Elsa, the only person able to hear them, leading the sisters, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven on an adventure to get to the bottom of the seemingly existential threat to Arendelle.
As complicated as that sounds, the story largely plays second fiddle to a number of other considerations, namely character development and musical numbers. The plot is largely obligatory, existing to provide a reason to spend more time with these characters. The core group is charming enough to carry the film on their own, aided by several interesting new characters.
The animation is unsurprisingly superb. The color scheme is absolutely beautiful, capturing the essence of autumn in a breathtakingly authentic manner. The animation is so powerful that it helps buoy the narrative through some of its lackluster sequences.
The songs are definitely not as catchy. To some extent, that’s to be expected. “Let It Go” is without a doubt Disney’s biggest musical success of the new millennium. Frozen 2 could be forgiven for failing to top that, but the songs are too narrative orientated in nature, making them much harder to remember.
Frozen 2 is an enjoyable film, though Elsa’s lack of romantic plotline would be more admirable if all of her songs didn’t make her sound like she was trying to come out of the closet. Part of this can be blamed on the vague nature of her conflict, leaving songs like “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” to present meaning in the absence of clarity. Children, particularly young girls, certainly need narratives that aren’t explicitly linked to their ability to find love.
Queerbaiting is an easy charge to levy at a company like Disney, which has hardly been leading the pack with regard to inclusivity. For the franchise that first introduced “Love is an Open Door” seemingly destined to become an LGBTQ anthem, Elsa’s sexuality is something that the film feels oddly comfortable playing footsie with. The situation is hardly helped by the fact that so much of Anna’s plotline is tied to her future with Kristoff. Young children likely won’t pick up on this dynamic, but as an adult it’s hard to ignore.
Frozen 2 isn’t as good as its predecessor, but it’s still a fun movie. The characters are endearing and the action sequences are quite well choreographed. Parents may rejoice at the idea that the songs aren’t likely to receive as much endless airtime.