Is Frozen II As Cool As Its Predec-ice-or?

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(Left to Right) Elsa (Idena Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell) & Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) take in the enchanted forest. The colorful leaves and fantasy creatures make this a very different setting from Arendelle. (Photo Credit: Disney)

Benji Huether, Contributor

Before this review of Frozen II begins, a slight spoiler warning must be given since, even though the information discussed isn’t included in the trailers, it does take place in the first 5-10 minutes of the movie.

The film starts out with young Anna and Elsa (Hadley Gnnaway and Mattea Conforti) being told by their parents of an enchanted forest, where long ago, the Northuldra people lived in harmony with the four elemental spirits (Earth, water, wind, and fire). However, a battle between the peoples of Northuldra and Arendelle displeased the spirits, who expelled the princesses’s father, while trapping everyone else inside an inescapable mist. When the girls ask why the battle started, they are told by their mother that only Ahtohallan, a river that contains all the memories of the world, would know. When the elements begin to turn against Arendelle, Anna and Elsa, now grown up and played again by Kristen bell and Idena Menzel, must find the enchanted forest and Ahtohallan to keep their kingdom safe, discovering new secrets about Elsa’s powers along the way.

Now, the 1.276 billion dollar question: is this movie as good as Frozen? The answer is complicated. In some ways, it completely exceeds its predecessor. While the visuals and animation in the first film were extremely impressive for the time, the six years of work that went into this sequel result in an even tastier feast for the eyes. Highlights include the water-spirit, a horse made out of ever-flowing liquid, and some of Elsa’s new uses for her ice powers. Besides these impressive scenes and characters, though, the whole movie has a much higher polish than the original, with clothes that show individual threads in the fabric and improved skin and hair textures all around.

The songs in Frozen II are a point of contention for many. Though some (including this reviewer) consider them superior to the original, featuring bigger music and more varied emotions, others hold that they wear out their welcome quickly. It sometimes seems like the filmmakers are putting in a new song every five minutes on the off chance that one will become this year’s “Let It Go” (though, if you compare the soundtracks, the sequel actually has one fewer song). Though the most heavily marketed song of the film is “Into The Unknown”, “Show Yourself” is also a stand out.

The dialogue and acting are top-notch, as always. Thankfully, despite spending most of the previous movie appart, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel maintain good chemistry with each other. Where the film begins to unravel a bit is in the plot. While it’s structurally sound, with clear acts and character arcs, it leaves some characters by the wayside. Kristof (Jonathan Groff), for example, has a subplot of trying and failing to propose to Anna. While this is funny, it also feels very unoriginal, and just an excuse to keep the character in the movie because he was in the last one. On the bright side, though, Olaf (Josh Gad) is more relevant this time. Despite remaining the comic relief, his quest for maturity throughout the movie relates to the themes of time and change it presents.

Even with the film’s consistent theming, it still suffers for one principal reason: they try and explain the magic. In the first film, Elsa’s ice powers are simply treated as something the viewers had to accept as part of their suspension of disbelief; here, though, they connect it to the elemental spirits in a way that closely mirrors Avatar: The Last Airbender, and while in that show it works because the rules for magic are established from the beginning, here, because it has to work in the first film’s much looser precedent, it raises many more questions than it answers. This might be intentional, however, since with the film’s box office numbers, there’s little doubt that Frozen III is on the way.