Frozen 2 steps into the unknown and delivers a sequel that sparkles all on its own.
Good sequels are hard. From the beginning, you have to find a way to capture the magic of the original without repeating the past or you risk creating a carbon copy instead of a new original. Frozen 2 deftly covers new ground without losing sight of what made Frozen such a phenomenon.
Instead of being a direct sequel, Frozen 2 steps back into the past to find its inspiration, with a focus on Elsa’s sense that some part of her doesn’t quite fit into her current life as Queen of Arendelle.
Her quest starts with a voice: a lilting melody that will stick in your head long after the film ends and holds a sense of adventure, hope, and longing. It’s calling her, and Elsa, no matter how she tries not to listen, eventually answers.
Her quest to follow that voice, and Anna’s determination not to let her sister go alone, sends them, along with Kristoff and Olaf, on an adventure that sheds light on Arendelle’s past while giving Elsa insights into who she is and where her magic comes from.
‘Frozen 2’ music
As good as Frozen is, it committed a crime by not giving Kristoff a song. I mean, how do you put Jonathan Groff in a musical and not give him a song? Frozen 2 not only corrected this error, but it gave Kristoff an ’80s power ballad of epic proportions.
Frozen 2 dives headfirst into being a musical and packs the film with songs for everyone. We’re already familiar with Elsa’s “Into The Unknown,” but we get lots more Idina, and more Idina is always a good thing. You should definitely be prepared for loads of videos of little kids singing in Elsa dresses.
But one song hit me on such a personal level that I have to take a moment to discuss it. Anna, lost and alone, finds herself practically unable to go on and finds her way out of the dark while singing “The Next Right Thing.”
As someone who battles depression, the song resonated on a level that immediately brought tears to my eyes, and I found myself hanging on every word as I watched a Disney character go through what it feels like to live my life in the real world when I have one of those days.
Kristen Bell’s vocals are both raw and haunting, and you can feel Anna every step of the way as she finds her way out of the dark, both literally and figuratively.
“Into the Unknown” may be the song that captures the hearts of little girls everywhere, but I have a feeling “The Next Right Thing” will find its way onto playlists for many teens and adults — and maybe it’ll help us out when things get tough.
The risks and rewards
Frozen 2 dives deep into lore, and the idea of visionquests, which can be tricky. The tried and true Disney formula of heroine vs. villain doesn’t really apply here. Like Frozen, it sends Elsa out to learn about her magic, but it dovetails in an entire subplot about a new and mysterious place.
By sending its characters out of Arendelle and into the unknown (heh), Frozen 2 takes us out of the familiar and weaves new history into the original film. It also does it fairly unapologetically for a film targeted to children.
There are some big concepts going on here, the least of which are runestones and elemental magic. (I just realized this may upset a few people out there. I’ll be interested to see if anyone starts a petition.) So, the question of whether kids will lock in the same way as they did to Frozen will be interesting.
But there’s something about Frozen 2 that makes me think that, even if kids don’t lock in, teens and adults will. Especially those that find themselves wondering where they belong in this world; those that feel a little out of place or who have questions about what they’re meant to do in the wider realm of life.
So many of us have felt that calling. That pull. We’ve heard that voice in the distance. That siren’s call of inspiration. Some of us follow immediately; others not at all. Those of us that follow may find ourselves facing obstacle after obstacle and may even give up, going back to the relative safety of what we know.
Some of us get battered and bruised just like Anna, and, like Anna, we get back up again and keep going.
In the end, you’ll have your own experience with Frozen 2, and maybe that’s the whole point of this one. It’s about taking chances and about following your heart. It’s about doing the right thing, no matter the cost. It’s about trusting your instincts and standing up for yourself even when things look bleak.
And it’s about doing that next right thing — over and over until you find your way to who you were meant to be all along.
Frozen 2 opens in theaters November 22.