I hated Frozen. The first one. The 2013 one. For me, the best Walt Disney Animated Studio film was Moana. And if we include Pixar animated and Disney released, It’s Brave. Undoubtedly Brave. I was never fond of this saga of sisters. Particularly for the hype it got for not having a prince coming to the rescue, when Pixar did just that a year before with Brave. So when Frozen came along and clinched that title, I was disappointed.
Secondly, I’m generally critical of Disney studios. Sure they gave us Kimba the White..err Lion King, but thats pretty much where Disney’s originality started (if you can call it that) and ended. 2020 is flooded with Disney live action remakes. Most movies are based off fairytales written by two German brothers from the 1800’s. Frozen itself is loosely based on The Snow Queen. I’ve usually found DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment more original and believe that Disney's creative juices have run dry. So then why did I watch Frozen II ?
For the clothes.
Let me explain. As a kid who knows which Disney film is which from the castle in the beginning of the film, I grew up knowing that characters don’t change. It was given that characters go through the entire film without a hair out of place and with the clothes intact. It is what we identify with the character. And it also makes the animators job easier. So when my social media was flooded with posts of Elsa’s ensemble, I got interested. I dashed to the theatre and there it was. Characters changing costumes in every scene!
Why is this a big deal? Cause it shows that we cannot and should not take animation lightly. Animators are putting in effort to make an animated character a style icon, something they had achieved partially in Frozen. Writers are putting in effort to make the character recognisable not just from their appearance, but from their personality. From the change in hairstyle, to the change in clothes and the detailing! God the detailing! A fantastic job by Walt Disney Animations.
But the costumes were just the tip of it all.
The action sequences in Frozen II are visual hard-candy. I simply cannot count the number of times the rising action to the background score gave me chills (ironically, there is no better way to describe it) Every time Elsa stands, shoulders squared, brows knotted and arms swinging in action, creating something out of thin air, it feels formidable. It fells dynamic. We get thrills and chills from heavy CGI scenes in action movies, but seldom does an action scene in an animated movie have a similar effect.
Now I am a sucker for a good equine scene in a film. There is something powerful and provocative in the heroine of the movie getting onto a horse and riding into the horizon as the backdrop reflects her mood. It’s what I love most about Disney's other adjective moniker movies - Brave and Tangled - a healthy dose of horses. Brave especially, with the rugged Scottish landscape unravelling in the background as the heroine rides on. Frozen II gave me just that. The entire scene with the ‘Nook’, a shapeshifting water spirit from Germanic Mythology, the horse which later becomes Elsa’s mount, is phenomenally stunning.
But enough about Elsa, coming to her red-head sister, Anna. Well, Anna does what Anna does best. Move in and out of scenes with little impact till the final battle, making sure she doesn’t upstage her sister while taking credit for saving the day. Olaf is there too. Yeah. It seems Disney really wants to get rid of him, throughout the film (in every film) but he manages to stick around. But he isn’t overdone, and in some scenes is borderline bearable. I won’t speak much about Kristoff, as there isn’t much to speak about.
Frozen II is too full of itself. There are several mentions of the last movie, and they aren’t subtle. I was always under the impression that flashback scenes in a song in a movie were a thing of the past, but Frozen II brought it back. The film cannot resist bringing up its prequel.
So should you watch Frozen II? Chances are, you already have. I might even watch it a second time, this time for Anna’s costumes. All in all, Frozen II managed to thaw this heart when it comes to Disney’s current era. Now I finally believe better storytelling is to come. This time Disney, you’ve got it right. Well done.