Frozen II (2019)

Frozen II
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writer: Jennifer Lee
Based on (or rather inspired by): Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tale The Snow Queen
Sequel to: Frozen
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, Jeremy Sisto, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds
Seen on: 18.12.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) colonialism, racism

Plot:
Anna (Kirsten Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) lifted the curse off Arendelle and Elsa has risen to the throne, making an excellent queen. But when things finally seem to be okay, a voice starts calling Elsa – a voice only she can hear. It beckons her, but it’s only after strange – and threatening – things start happening in Arendelle that Elsa resolves to go. She knows she has to find a forest that used to be the kingdom of Northuldra and the place where her own grandfather was killed by the natives. And Anna knows that she will not let her sister go on any mission alone anymore. So they start making their way north together with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad) to rediscover history.

Frozen II feels very in tune with the first Frozen film, though personally I found the music not quite up to snuff. No matter, though, because the themes the film tackles more than make up for it: surprisingly heavy for a children’s film, they still handle them mostly well.

The film poster showing the main characters and smaller Elsa doing some ice magic.

[SPOILERS]

Frozen II takes on colonialism and racism against Indigenous people: it turns out that Anna and Elsa’s grandfather did not die at the hands of the Indigenous population who attacked without reason, but because he attacked, planning to obliterate them entirely – a plan that, fortunately, did not work. When Anna and Elsa learn of this history, they know that they have to make up for it and they give their best to do that – as far as it is possible.

The solution in the film is still oversimplified and the question whether forgiveness is actually possible, isn’t really a part of the conversation. There is also the fact that the story still focuses on the white people in it and that the character of Lieutenant Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), the Black commander who is way too good and loyal to have been knowingly involved in the plot against the Natives, is pretty tropey. Also, on a more meta level, as far as I can tell, no Indigenous actors were cast to voice the Indigenous characters. So, how they handled that story is not without issue. But it was still impressive to see a (children’s) film take on the topic in the first place and then come to the conclusion that it’s the white people’s responsibility to fix things.

Sven, Kristoff, Anna, Elsa and Olaf overlooking a valley in fall.

Other than that engaging storyline, Frozen II is nice but didn’t really blow me away. It does keep the overall quality of the first film and has some truly beautiful animation. I also did find myself laughing more than once, especially at Kristoff’s soft rock number Lost in the Woods.

I think that kids who loved Frozen, will love Frozen II, too. And it has something to offer for adults as well. That’s really all you could ask for.

Anna and Olaf in a canoo made of ice.

Summarizing: Satisfying.

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