New reviews, interviews, and features via RSS or Email.

Sponsored Links

Frozen II

(2019) *** Pg
103 min. Walt Disney Studios. Directors: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck. Cast: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Sterling K. Brown, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Ciaran Hinds.

/content/films/5187/2.jpgDisney’s princess culture took a palpable hit from 2013’s Frozen, Disney’s 53rd animated feature and one that gave female heroes—who, once upon a time, might have been empty vessels—deep feelings and active agency. Speaking of hits, Frozen was a certified one at the box office, bringing in over $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office for its revisionist take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. As sure as there are shareholders, then, Frozen II was inevitable, and its day has come.

“Come, my darling, homeward bound/When all is lost, then all is found,” sings Queen Aduna (Evan Rachel Wood) in the first of Frozen II’s seven new songs (again by the two-time Oscar-winning team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez). While nodding at a six-years-later return to the world of Frozen, “All is Lost” sets up the history mystery behind this sequel’s plot. “A very old and enchanted forest” lies somewhere out there, “a place of transformation.” From this hidden world, a voice that only Elsa (Idina Menzel) can hear wafts into Arendelle, eventually prompting Elsa, her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Kristoff’s reindeen Sven, and sentient snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) on a risky mission to find answers and, they hope, protect Arendelle. In the process, they’ll stumble upon the origin of Elsa’s wintry superpowers.

Frozen II touches on environmental themes and, even more so, indigenous rights as our heroes turn up the past of a hidden culture and Arendelle’s own colonialist past. In most respects, Frozen II has a more considered and less piecemeal plot than its predecessor. But if Frozen didn’t always make story sense or character sense, it felt right to audiences, and the makers of Frozen II chase that feeling by putting an emphasis on broadly drawn character, sprightly orchestrations and animated dazzle. These come together most prominently for the number “Into the Unknown,” sung by Menzel and the clear power-ballad inheritor of Oscar-winning Best Song “Let it Go.” Add plenty of goofy gag comedy that goes into overdrive whenever Olaf is around, and Frozen II amounts to a crowd-pleasing sequel that knows not to mess with a winning formula.

Bell gets a weepy musical soliloquy in “The Next Best Thing,” while Groff this time gets to better demonstrate his musical-theater chops with, of all things, an ’80s-style rock ballad, “Lost in the Woods.” The way the characters talk out their thoughts in song remains pretty clunky (albeit with kid-friendly lyrical simplicity), but this cast can sing, and the orchestra swells accommodatingly. By embracing the environmental harmony of air, water, fire, earth, and a fifth spirit to be named later—as well as pointedly setting up its own Turkey Day-teasing Truth & Reconciliation Commission about a proud nation’s not-so-proud past—Frozen II arrives just in time for Thanksgiving as an entertainment parents and kids can be thankful for.

Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink
Sponsored Links