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Frozen 2 (2019)

There can be no denying Frozen's popularity in the eyes of Disney fans the world over. From its catchy songs to its daring to buck Disney's own branding cliches have resulted in a financial and marketing goldmine.

And thus, a sequel was inevitable.

But in the years since Frozen's initial release in the fall of 2013, the climate around the film's popularity has shifted. Parents reflexively groan when Idina Menzel scene-stealing song is even mentioned. Much of Disney's merchandise has become saturated with Olaf dolls, t-shirts and backpacks. Ironically, it is this over saturation that has laid the groundwork for Frozen 2's success.

It isn't a groundbreaking film by any stretch, but I believe there is actually more to enjoy in Frozen 2's Enchanted Forest than in the original film.

From the get-go, the film lays down the ongoing mystery surrounding Elsa's ice powers. Why does she have them in the first place and are there others like her? Despite the peace that Arendelle now enjoys under Elsa's rule, she feels like something is missing. A longing that begins to manifest as a mysterious voice calling out to her. Leading into scene-stealing song sequence "Into the Unkown." This voice, kickstarting Elsa's journey, leads her and her friends to the Enchanted Woods. A place of spirits that has long been sealed by their elemental magic.

Pretty much anything having to deal with the Enchanted Forest's lore (the elemental spirits who guard it, the mystery surrounding the past wrong that both Elsa and Anna must make right) are the strongest aspects of the film. The elemental spirits in particular given wonderful designs that feel both separate yet part of Frozen's world.

Another positive note is this is not a story that requires an immediate villain (surprise or otherwise). The main chunk of the plot is having to deal with the sins and mistakes of the past to make a better future. A theme that feels like an important topic of discussion between parents and their children this year. The secondary theme is that nothing stays exactly the same, and that change is inevitable. All that matters is how you choose to move forward.

Again, not themes I was exactly expecting from Frozen 2 but they were welcome surprises along with the new focus on the magic that seems to have always existed in Frozen's world.

The songs, while good, do not seem to be hitting the same catchy notes as the first film (Parents can breathe a sigh of relief). Still, the fact that most of the best songs, again, are sung by Idina Menzel isn't a coincidence. Her talent in musical theater is unmatched and Disney takes full advantage of every song they give her. One song sequence that ended up being unintentionally funny (or intentionally?) is "Lost in the Woods" sung by Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). During the film's B plot as the socially inept ice cutter attempts to propose to Anna with little success. Leading to this little Brian Adam's music video style number that has to be seen to be believed. All the adults in my theater were laughing like crazy from start to finish.

What really surprised me is that the film seemed to take shots/jokes at its own popularity. Elsa cringes when she is reminded of her big song number in the original film, and there is a fairly amusing sequence of Olaf recounting the events of the original film. Any form of media that isn't afraid to make fun of itself in some capacity is worthy of some praise.

That said, the film isn't flawless. The journey through the woods tends to drag as character motivations clash, especially since no one goes in with a clear goal of what they want. There is also the argument that the story takes the same steps as the first one where, ultimately, Elsa must be saved by her sister Anna. But during my viewing, these issues didn't bother me as I was effectively engaged with all the elements of the film that I did enjoy.

Being a sequel to an extremely beloved film, Frozen 2 had a lot to live up to. But in my eyes, it dared to try things in a Disney princess movie that has ultimately paid off. Continuing to offer some fresh new twists and ideas that make these sisters such as likable characters. Whether you're already a fan or being dragged to see the movie by your kids fear not. There is something in Frozen 2 for everyone.


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