It may have been six years since we saw Frozen, but its sequel takes place three years after the predecessor with the usual suspects Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristin Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven and Olaf (Josh Gad) embarking on yet another adventure to save the kingdom of Arendelle. A strange voice seems to be calling Elsa, and takes her and the gang all the way to Enchanted Forest that has been locked out by a thick mist because of what happened there 34 years ago.
Frozen 2, the sequel feels a trifle dark for kids, a jokey Olaf notwithstanding, but packs in enough sentiment for adults to wallow in.
Elsa has to get to know the origin of her magical icy powers and use them to undo the damage and set things right all over again, for not just Arendella but also its supposed foe Northuldra. It’s all about Elsa finding the fifth element to get air, water, fire and earth back in harmony.
In Frozen, the moot point was whether Elsa’s powers were too much for the world to handle; now the question is if they are enough.
Hollywood animated films tend to have a blueprint of their own. The artwork, design and special effects dazzle ceaselessly in film after film. As they do here with Elsa’s magic making the fantasy soar even higher and further. The sequence involving Elsa riding the choppy waves and the phantom of a horse can put action scenes in many a live-action film to shame. Add to that the music, the usual emotional wallop, generous shots of humour, the twists and turns, a family mystery at the heart of darkness and a feel good end and you have a film that manages to hold you in its grip despite all the foresee-ability.
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Computer animation with voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciaran Hinds, Alan Tudyk
Run time: 103 minutes
Storyline: The kingdom of Arendelle is in danger again and Elsa has begun to hear a strange voice calling her. So she embarks on a journey with sister Anna, Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and the much-loved snowman Olaf to Enchanted Forest that has been locked out by a thick mist. Will she get to know the origins of her ice powers and be able to figure how they can be used to save their world?
Frozen 2 also comes with the added baggage of comparisons with the much loved Frozen. Forget the films, can even a new song like Into The Unknown hold a candle to Let It Go from the past? The jury might still be out on that, but the characters in the sequel continue to throb with lives of their own, sporting distinct personality traits and identities, be it the leader-like Elsa or the forever encouraging Anna.
Eventually it all boils down to feelings and how they are rendered tactile. You can sense the joy of a loved ones’ cuddles in Anna’s big expressive eyes. A lot of us would have experienced the warmth of a mother’s love long after she’d have left the world; in her scarf that we’d wrap around ourselves in moments when we were desperately seeking certainty and comfort.
As is usual with most animated films, the seemingly simple story meant for children comes with deeper, more complex and mature messages for adults to grapple with. In fact, Frozen 2 feels a trifle dark for kids, despite the jokey Olaf. The notion of embracing the unknown, of dredging out memories and answers from the past and finding one’s own self may not quite be of their interest. Ditto for the grown up themes of change, loss, grief, reconciliation and moving on: that hope might be gone but you must go on, find a new way out and do the right thing. As a song in the film goes, “When you are older, everything makes sense”. Not quite kid-friendly stuff, but it’s definitely a most simple, basic reassurance for the adults to be told that, “When all is lost, then all is found”. Or, perhaps, nothing or noone is ever lost; eventually it’s all just shape-shifting.
Then there is the political allegory itself. How strategic betrayals may create rifts between nations but the spirit of forgiveness and humanity of the people can break the walls and build bridges. Peace can be brokered even after 34 years of deadlock. In the words of the film itself it’s all about “land and people connected by love”. If only the real world would pay heed to that.