Story by Noah Kuhn
Illustration by David Sohn
The sequel to the inspiring and heart-warming Frozen released in theaters on Nov. 22, after six long-awaited years. Disney’s Frozen Ⅱ features Anna and Elsa’s quest to restore peace between the four nature spirits within the fabled Enchanted Forest. However, an overly complex storyline coupled with shallow character development leaves viewers confused and disinterested throughout the film, failing to live up to the expectations set by trailers and the original Frozen.
The movie begins with Elsa and Anna as little kids listening to their parents recount the legend of the Enchanted Forest, which contains the spirits of air, fire, earth, and wind. It then transitions to the present day, when Elsa starts to hear a mysterious voice beckoning her to the Enchanted Forest in the north. She pursues the call, somehow activating the four nature spirits and unleashing their wrath upon Arendelle. Unfortunately, this process is unclear in the movie because the scenery changes suddenly to a completely dark backdrop when Elsa is singing, making for an awkward transition.
Additionally, Kristoff attempts to propose to Anna countless times in Frozen Ⅱ, which becomes obnoxious, especially in his solo soft-rock ballad, “Lost in the Woods.” The song unintentionally draws laughter with its out of place, over-the-top tone.
Though cringeworthy, Kristoff’s amusing solo does represent valuable progress in combating the harmful gender stereotype that men can’t show their emotions. Through “Lost in the Woods,” Kristoff expresses his feelings by showing his vulnerable side, something that has not been explored in past Disney productions.
Another effect of the prolonged engagement attempt is that both Kristoff and Anna’s characters are one-dimensional and underdeveloped, which creates a divide between the audience and plot. Anna’s role in the movie switches between interrupting Kristoff’s cheesy yet loving theatrics and being rejected by Elsa, who insists on exploring alone. This furthers the audience disconnect because Anna no longer represents the adorably dorky yet courageous character she was in Frozen.
Audiences are further distanced from Frozen Ⅱ’s winding plot when the characters split off onto different paths. Anna and Elsa’s actions and the underlying purpose of their behaviors are communicated poorly, and before we can learn more, the film rushes to a conclusion.
Frozen Ⅱ focuses too much time on the buildup to learning the truth about the nature spirits, and then glazes over the important details of Arendelle’s complicated past, causing the middle of the movie to be dry while the conclusion feels confusing and abrupt. Therefore, Frozen Ⅱ is unappealing to the audience at all stages of the movie because it failed to maintain an interesting or understandable plot line throughout.
The film’s mediocrity in plot development is reflected in the soundtrack. Frozen Ⅱ’s most iconic song, “Into the Unknown,” doesn’t land on the same tier as “Let it Go.” Disney movies are remembered mainly by their biggest “theme” song — the chorus is catchy, but the rest of the song bodes poorly for the film’s legacy.
Moreover, the overuse of nature spirits in the plot and shallow character development, particularly for Anna and Kristoff, prevent the film from attaining the stardom of its precursor. While comedic elements throughout the film, both purposeful and accidental, attempt to salvage the unengaging storyline, Frozen Ⅱ falls short of all its hype.