Frozen still
Image: ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved. / Sky Editorial Asset Centre.

‘Frozen 2’ leaves you feeling cold

Rating:

Believe it or not, the original Frozen was released six whole years ago, so it’s understandable that many of us were excited – or at least curious – as to what its long-awaited sequel, Frozen 2, would have to offer. Frozen holds a place in many of our hearts. People of all ages were enraptured by the pair of royal sisters, Anna and Elsa, the showstopping songs (like the power ballad “Let It Go”) and the magical kingdom of Arendelle itself. In addition to the beauty of this icy imagined world, the film surprised and delighted audiences with a Disney ending that finally prioritised sisterhood and female empowerment over the predictable, heteronormative conclusion of a Prince Charming saving his princess.

So, it was with great excitement that I dragged my fifty-six-year-old mother to accompany her twenty-year-old daughter to the blockbuster hit that has already surpassed the original film in sales. I will begin with the disclaimer that I really wanted to love this film, honestly, I did. But Frozen 2 left me feeling cold.

At this point in a review, I would usually offer some details about the plot. However, despite being a lot older than the proposed demographic, I found the film’s storyline confusing, chaotic and somewhat difficult to follow. The general idea is that Queen Elsa has been hearing mysterious voices and her kingdom of Arendelle seems to be in danger. With the help of Frozen favourites, sister Anna and her boyfriend Kristoff, Olaf the Snowman and Sven the Reindeer, Elsa embarks on an adventure to save Arendelle. The journey is as self-reflective and sibling-focused as the original film, as Anna and Elsa are challenged to confront the troubling past of their late parents and to forge their own individual paths in life while remaining emotionally connected as sisters.

Despite being a lot older than the proposed demographic, I found the film’s storyline confusing, chaotic and somewhat difficult to follow

Unfortunately, the finer details of the plot are just one big headache, such as the introduction of new mystical creatures – massive giants made from rock, a tiny fire-breathing salamander and Gale, who is basically a gust of wind – that all represent the unsettling elements of earth, fire and air. Additionally, the original plot of the preceding film is mentioned far too much, exposing the desperation of Disney to cling on to the success of its original offering.

Olaf shines as the main source of comic relief, getting a lot of giggles from the little ones in the audience, but is now a more mature snowman who is starting to question the world around him. He has grasped a clearer understanding of the elements, teaching us that water carries memory, which becomes a key motif of the film. Frozen 2 seems to be aimed at a slightly older audience, with darker and more violent scenes which are perhaps for the grown-up children that enjoyed the original film back in 2013. Through choosing this more mature tone, however, the film loses the light-hearted and enchanting quality it achieved in its predecessor.

The main moral message of the film seems to be a call to stop fighting against the forces of nature and to learn more about the natural beauty of the world around us

Although it must be said, the more sombre themes of grief and struggle evident here do inspire moving songs that comment on the power of mindfulness and send important messages to the youthful audience. “The Next Right Thing”, sung by Kristen Bell (Anna), expresses the importance of focusing on the small changes you can make in the face of adversity. This sweet message offers some guidance on poor mental health to an audience who belong to a generation suffering from depression and anxiety. What’s more, the film comments on the significance of a harmonious and respectful human relationship to nature, which is also a pressing concern of young people today, reflected in the recent global climate strikes.

The main moral message of the film seems to be a call to stop fighting against the forces of nature and to learn more about the natural beauty of the world around us. We see Anna and Elsa discovering and reconnecting with an indigenous ancestry and vowing to right the wrongs committed by their family in the past. This commentary on the generational impact of colonialism seems underdeveloped, and the indigenous storyline to me felt whitewashed. On further research, the indigenous characters of the film were actually based on the Sámi people of Norway, and contracts were signed by Disney that promised to respectfully portray the Sámi culture. This is, of course, extremely positive, but I believe that in today’s political climate, an American film could have done so much more with this theme of colonialism.

It is a sparkly trip down memory lane, but for me, it was not the Frozen 2 I wished it could be

Frozen 2 is visually stunning, that much is beyond doubt; the Enchanted Forest, Elsa’s new frosty gown and the adorable baby reindeer are dazzling additions to the world. But while the new songs “Into the Unknown” and “All is Found” satisfy the Frozen fan in me, many of the others are, at best, forgettable and, at worst, cringe-worthy. I completely understand why some people would enjoy the film as a whole – it is a sparkly trip down memory lane, after all – but, for me, it was not the Frozen 2 I wished it could be.

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