Frozen II: Enchanting, mystical second outing or quick Disney cash grab?


George Mellowship, 3rd Year Geography

As Frozen II (2019) hits cinemas, fan-favourite characters return to the big screen to try and reclaim the festive magic that made it one of Disney’s biggest-ever hits. George Mellowship asks: does Frozen II melt our hearts again?

It’s happened. Six years after Disney’s Frozen (2013) smashed box office records to become the highest grossing animation of all time and one of Disney’s biggest ever hits, cinema’s least surprising sequel hits cinemas this week. The first film featured two sisters: Elsa and Anna, the former of which has magical ice powers. You would do well to find someone that hadn’t heard of Frozen or anyone born after 1990 not familiar with the anthem that is Let it Go.

Whilst a sequel was inevitable, the biggest question facing the film before release was whether it was justifiable as a sequel, or just another of Disney’s cash grabs? With enormous hype and excitement around the film, the answer to the prior question is a slight mix of both.

The story follows childhood favourites Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), their magical snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna’s love interest Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven attempting to save their hometown of Arandelle. Apart from the fact that the film sees the exploration of Elsa and Anna’s grief for losing their parents, an enchanted forest and Elsa exploring the origin of her powers, not much else can be said about the plot without giving away spoilers.

The storyline is more complex than the first film which acts as a detriment. It spends a long time establishing the story and once it’s got going, it seems to attempt to quickly rattle to a conclusion. The film also does not establish a villain and so lacks a sense of jeopardy at times.

Whilst a sequel was inevitable, the biggest question facing the film before release was whether it was justifiable as a sequel, or just another of Disney’s cash grabs?

However, if the strategy from Disney was to cash in on nostalgia and please fans of the first film it certainly succeeds. There are some absolutely joyful moments that leave you delighted and grinning in the cinema, alongside throwbacks to the first film that stop you caring about any quibbles about the plot or motivations for the film being made. Tonally it is much darker and more mysterious than the first outing.

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The relationship between Elsa and Anna shines and warms the heart of anyone lucky enough to have a sibling. Despite the fantasy and magic powers, the draw of Elsa and Anna is that they are highly relatable. Their personalities are polar opposites: Elsa shy and withdrawn, Anna a chatty extrovert but they compliment each other on screen perfectly.

The film will leave you laughing out loud, mostly due to Olaf who steals every scene he features in and gets an interesting storyline of his own, but at times is very emotional and poignant. One scene in particular in the middle of the film featuring Anna in a cave is heart wrenching and depressing whether you’re six, twenty-six or sixty-six.

As well as the emotional rollercoaster, one other huge positive of the film is that is introduces one of the most adorable characters ever created by Disney - arguably cuter than Pascal the chameleon from Tangled (2010), Pua the pig from Moana (2016) and Boo from Monsters Inc (2001).

There are some absolutely joyful moments that leave you delighted and grinning in the cinema

No review of Frozen II (2019) would be complete without mentioning the new songs. The film offers a completely new setlist and pleasingly refrains from repeating any of the first film’s hits. Elsa (played by broadway legend Idina Menzel) is provided with two musical outings to provide her with a Let It Go-esque moment, one of which, named Into the Unknown, is perhaps even more catchy than its predecessor. The film begins with a brilliantly upbeat reunion song for the key five characters but has a slight dip in offering Kristoff a bizarre 80’s style power ballad. Anna’s song is brilliantly emotional - if you don’t shed a tear, you must be suffering from a frozen heart.

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Despite being designed for children - and desperately nostalgic uni students - the film deals with surprisingly adult themes of grief and depression and also touches on climate change. The theme of change itself and fear of it provides the emotional backbone of the film. Interestingly, the manner in which growing up is addressed indicates that Disney is fully acknowledges how it’s audience of the first film will have aged since it’s release.

Does Frozen II reach the heights of Frozen? Bluntly put -no - but equalling or topping the first film was always a near impossible task. Despite this it does feel like a worthwhile sequel and the audience is so emotionally invested in the characters that plot almost matters less and it is just fun to see them together on the big screen once more.

There is no denying that it is fan service guaranteed to leave you smiling and emotionally shattered. It is also a perfect distraction from university deadlines, and as we near the end of term will leave you longing for quality family time at Christmas. Fans, unlike the characters of the film are not left in the cold and will be left feeling warm and joyous.

Funny, visually stunning and heart wrenching and swelling in equal measure, a revisit to the land of Arandelle is a welcome treat that will delight fans of the now legendary first film and Disney as a whole.

Featured - IMDb / Disney

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