Movie review: Frozen II

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School holidays have been and gone and movies were consumed!

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are back to continue the journey of life in Arendelle in Frozen II (or Frozen 2). I took my seven-year-old son to see it and here’s what we thought.

Firstly, my son was not even a year old when the first Frozen came onto the screens and I somehow managed to miss the whole event until he was four years old, at which point he saw it, loved it, loved the song, and dressed up and sang along just like every other kindergarten kid. Now a big seven-year-old, he said he didn’t want to see Frozen II because he didn’t like it. I asked him what he even remembered about the first one, to which he paused and said, ‘I remember the song.’ Okay, yes, we all remember the song. Fair point. (And the film even takes a moment to make fun of it too.) Still, I made him go because it was stinking hot, I was exhausted and needed a sit-down activity, I wanted to see it, and there was nothing else on at my local cinema that was suitable. His final objections to seeing it were doused at the promise of an ice cream.

Generally speaking, sequels are rarely as good at the originals and this movie had to meet a bar set so high from the from first one it’s amazing it ever got off the ground.

The story continues following the lives of sisters Elsa and Anna in their kingdom of Arendelle who, at the end of the previous film, had been a rightful queen who had faced her fears and embraced her own uniqueness and was accepted by the people (Elsa) and had been a much wiser and more grounded woman, who’d learned hard lessons about trust and love and had proved to her sister that she was worthy of standing by her side (Anna). In Frozen II, Elsa is visited by a song only she can hear, calling her out of the kingdom and to an enchanted (but magically locked) forest, where she has to heal a great injury of the past.

The film is once again visually luxe and enchanting. Elsa is still conflicted, but not in a way I was expecting, and to be honest I’m not sure it was particularly clear why she was so conflicted and why the end result was as it was. (Please excuse my vagueness, I’m trying not to give away spoilers.) The greatest loss in this film, for me, was Kristoff, who was so funny, warm and active in the previous film but who has been relegated to the background, his one and only big scene seeing him singing a lovesick eighties-style power ballad in forest. That would have been okay (nothing wrong with an eighties power ballad) but it was pretty much all we saw of him and I missed him. His role in this film is to spend the entire time trying to propose to Anna. For me, this was unnecessary. I would be quite happy for them to be ‘living in sin’ together 🙂 But it seems that while Disney has made some great advances in breaking female stereotypes with this film, they couldn’t resist falling back on this particular princess trope.

There was some BIG messages in his film and if you are in any way prone to looking to nature for spiritual wisdom then this movie has some big things to say. ‘Water has a memory’ is the first big one we encounter and if you are at all familiar with Dr Emoto’s work studying water crystals this one will strike a cord. But there is a lot in here about making peace with the past and, specifically, about redressing the injuries caused to indigenous populations from colonial conquests. It hammers the idea of the interconnectedness of all from beginning to end, which some viewers will read as magic and into which others will find much deeper meaning.

The water horse. Amazing! Enough said.

There is a bit of a bushfire scene early on in the piece, which is quite tense, and if you have been affected by the recent Australian bushfires (which, in this country, aren’t we all in one way or another?) then be warned that could be a bit of trigger.

In terms of the plot, there is simply so much going on that it is convoluted and I did find myself more than once thinking, why are they doing this, exactly? It was a masterclass in writing–too many subplots can destroy the power of the main plot.

Did I love it? Yes, I did. Did my son? Yes, he did 🙂 He laughed, he was on the edge of his seat, he might have even cried at one point (I know I did!), and as soon as it was finished he said, ‘I enjoyed that a lot more than I thought I would.’

Is it as good as the first? They’re different beasts. Each is great in its own way. I don’t need something to be perfect for it to be enjoyable. A critical eye is one that looks to devalue and break down. I’d rather look at the whole thing and ask, Am I glad I saw it? Yes, most definitely.

Verdict: Absolutely worth seeing, on the big screen if possible.