Saturday, November 30, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Frozen II (2019)

It's hard to believe half a dozen years have passed since the release of Disney's FROZEN (2013), an outstanding animated musical whose popularity hasn't slacked a bit with the passage of time, at least if the number of little girls dressed as Anna or Elsa at Disneyland is anything to go by.

The entire voice cast returns for FROZEN II (2019), an excellent film which is part sequel, part origin story. As the film begins, we see Young Anna (Hadley Gannaway) and Young Elsa (Mattea Conforti) with their parents (Evan Rachel Wood and Alfred Molina), learning a bit of their family history.

After the opening title credit the film jumps to present day, where the parents have been dead for several years and Elsa (Idina Menzel) is hearing a haunting tune no one else can hear. Suddenly the kingdom of Arendelle begins experiencing strange occurrences, including an earthquake and disappearing water and fire.

Elsa, her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Anna's sweetheart Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf the enchanted snowman (Josh Gad), and Sven the reindeer venture to an enchanted forest, where they will confront the girls' family history and attempt to save Arendelle's future.

The problems the group faces may be slightly convoluted at times, but it's nonetheless an interesting film which continues to spotlight a pair of unique, strong female characters. The intrepid Elsa is a force to be reckoned with, while the more overtly emotional and exuberant Anna likewise proves her mettle.

Kristoff is pushed a bit to the side, but FROZEN has always been first and foremost the story of Elsa and Anna's relationship, and Kristoff shows up when it counts. The style of Kristoff's solo "Lost in the Woods" likewise seems somewhat out of keeping with the tenor of the rest of the film, coming off more as teenybopper music than a Broadway-style show tune. I discovered that others have commented on this, including an article at Gizmodo.

The rest of the songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are strong, though I confess a preference for the catchier tunes of the original film. (While Elsa's anthem "Let It Go" has become rightfully famous, my favorite song from that film is the lilting "For the First Time in Forever.") "The Next Right Thing," "Into the Unknown," and "Show Yourself" all provide stirring moments, with Elsa again having an emotional high point with "Show Yourself."

The film is visually stunning, to the extent it could probably be enjoyed with the soundtrack turned off. The sets and costumes, the icy diamonds which sometimes float through the air, Elsa's ice horse, and so much more combine for an exquisitely beautiful viewing experience.

All in all, while I had slight reservations here and there, FROZEN II joins its predecessor as a top-drawer animated Disney musical, and I look forward to revisiting it in the future.

FROZEN II was directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee from Lee's screenplay, based on a story by five contributors including herself and Buck. The running time is 103 minutes.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG.

A trailer may be found here. Additional trailers are available at the film's official website.


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