Frozen 2 came out and we can’t let it go

Drishti Upadhyaya and Mahika Arya

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Elsa stars in the sequel of Frozen. While entertaining and heartfelt, Frozen 2 lacked consistent characters and plot.

 

Disney joined the winter season on Nov. 22 with the long-awaited sequel to its blockbuster.

The 2013 movie followed two royal sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), as they attempt to reverse the icy spell the former cast on their kingdom, Arendelle.

The sequel follows the two as they begin to uncover the darker secrets of Arendelle’s past. Together, they journey through the Enchanted Forest and learn about their grandfather’s role in harming the native Northuldra tribe. 

Elsa yearns to learn more about her past and her powers, abandoning Anna on her quest to find the fifth spirit that will unite people with nature. She hesitantly turns her back on Anna, who then takes the throne and attempts to restore the balance between Arendelle and the Northuldra. Elsa chooses to stay with the tribe in order to keep the peace between the two and fully embrace her powers. The two share a bittersweet farewell as they take on their destined roles.

For the majority of the film, the plot stays strong. Elsa and Anna’s motives are made clear, and their relationship seems significantly stronger than in the first film. Elsa longs to follow the mysterious voice she hears into the unknown and find her truth. Anna longs to support her sister and strengthen herself. The plot’s mystery shines and character interactions add greatly to the film.

But the plot falters. Elsa, the woman who supposedly wants to journey and let it all go, hesitates. She steps into the unknown, but not without turning back. 

The inconsistencies catch up with her character arc. The Elsa of “Frozen” and the Elsa of “Frozen II” are entirely different characters, with opposing motives and aspirations. This Elsa’s dream of approaching the voice she hears is consistent with her character. Her decision to stay in the forest is accordant to her greater connection to her powers and mother. 

The Elsa the first film established is constantly conflicted, struggling to choose between her sister — her last link to the family that forced her to conceal her powers — and her true potential. In the first movie, she chose her family over the ice within her and, in doing so, chose both. She found love to be the missing key to unlocking her full potential. 

That Elsa would never turn her back on her sister for her mother. She saw the consequences and learned from them. Thus, the Elsa of the second film should never hesitate to leave. She would go after the voice and never turn back.

But she does. And that’s not consistent with her either of her characters.

In an attempt to reconcile these conflicting Elsa’s, the writers have done neither justice.

Elsa, despite being one of the most pivotal characters in the franchise, hasn’t been developed carefully through the plot, and her actions bear this burden.  Elsa’s arc was complete in the first film. She chose her family and herself. 

But success is a construct Disney strives to replicate, so they essentially copy the structure of the original film for the sequel.

Though other characters’ damage pales in comparison to Elsa’s, they, too, suffer from distorted personalities. Anna’s independence from the first film is nowhere to be seen, despite her taking on the role of queen. Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is completely sidelined, which is a huge disservice to his strengths. A pivotal character in the first film, his character is completely ignored in the sequel, which solely uses him as comic relief. Olaf goes from occasionally funny and charming to terribly annoying, save for the scene where he summarizes the first film. His death was the most dramatic moment in the film. 

Despite its narrative flaws, “Frozen II” is, by all means, a good movie; the plot works within itself. But it is not a good sequel. It ignores the development established by the first movie; its conflicts render the previous film inconsequential. Its worldbuilding creates more questions than answers. It pokes fun at the strongest points of the first film and makes them less powerful. And it doesn’t complete the story — it creates a new one. Rather than a “happily ever after”, there is a “to be continued.” 

We leave the story as we entered, slightly confused, but ultimately enthralled. However, no matter the inconsistencies, you cannot help but be interested: love for the first film will keep you captivated. Like its predecessor, Frozen II is a completely magical experience. 

The animation is gorgeous, and the callbacks to the original film are on the nose but enjoyable. The nostalgia adds greatly to the experience: watching Elsa build pillars of ice felt like watching the original again. Her wardrobe change is just as devastatingly beautiful. 

One of the greatest flaws of the first film was character design. Anna, Elsa, and Iduna clearly suffer from same-face syndrome, but, thankfully, the new characters stand out distinctly from one another. 

Despite their mere five minutes of screentime, the new characters are a major selling point for the film, especially amongst indigenous peoples activists. Despite their minor roles, Honeymaren and Ryder are definitely worth watching the film for, while Ryder and Kristoff’s bromance is adorably wholesome. Honeymaren and Elsa’s relationship leaves much unsaid, and, with better writing, could have provided greater reasoning for Elsa’s decision to stay in the forest. There’s clearly more to their bond, and hopefully, future projects will dive into that. But even without subtext, interactions with new characters were definitely worth watching.

The soundtrack is also incredible but not on the same level as the first film. “Frozen” had very No song was is at “Let It Go” level, but nothing steps so far down as “Fixer Upper.”

Many of the musically weaker songs, like “Show Yourself” and “The Next Right Thing,” gain strength through context and visuals. While they might not be appreciated solely as songs, their purpose in the film add considerably to their merit. None of the songs seem unnecessary in the film’s context. 

Ultimately, Kristoff steals the show. Jonathan Groff is a powerhouse, and his lack of songs in the original was a crime. However, “Lost in the Woods” is a masterpiece, allowing Groff’s talent to truly shine through; the emotion conveyed is on par with Idina Menzel’s delivery of “Let It Go.” With hilarious visuals, the song is an impressive parody that still manages to be heartfelt. Kristoff’s adorable love for Anna is one of the only consistent things in the narrative. Simply this performance is worth a rewatch.

Narratively, “Frozen II” isn’t the best. It’s inconsistent and littered with plot holes, sacrificing storytelling for humor and worldbuilding.

Despite its flaws correlating with the franchise, “Frozen II” remains a solid movie, certain to melt the hearts of anyone that watches it. It perfectly encapsulates the Disney vibe, with fun songs, magical characters, and stunning backdrops, making it still a movie worth watching.