Frozen 2 Offers Up Mythology And A Message (And Gets One Of Them Right)
Sequels get a bad rap for being lazy, low-hanging-fruit attempts to make more money off the backs of successful, original films—because so often, they are. Disney’s follow-up to their 2013 film Frozen is an exception, however. The studio kept fans in limbo for a full six years before releasing the sequel, but the songs, animation, and story arc were all well worth the wait.
It’s been a peaceful three years in Arendelle, with Queen Elsa ruling benevolently over the village while Princess Anna hangs out with her magical snowman friend Olaf, completely oblivious to the fact that Kristoff has been consulting with Sven the reindeer about the best way to propose to her. The royal clan spends their time throwing celebratory, farm-to-table dinners in the town square before retiring back to the castle to play charades.
Everyone is happy—except Elsa. Something is calling her north, something tied to a story her parents once told her and Anna about an enchanted forest and a battle between the Arendellians and their alleged enemies, the Northuldra.
The story takes off from there in the form of a quest for answers about Elsa’s powers and the truth about what happened with the Northuldra. Norse mythology weaves its way into the plot in a clever and beautiful way, opening up opportunities for the animators to bring the elements of wind, earth, water, and fire to life. Elsa gets to unleash her powers to the fullest and Anna gets to prove that she can stand on her own, without her sister at her side (though she does seem to fret and weep a lot—perhaps because she’s made to wear heels while scaling fjords and crawling through dark caves).
There’s just one hitch: in 2019 Disney, still isn’t getting the concept and history of colonialism right (the fact that Frozen 2 is a step up from Pocahontas in terms of the representation of Indigenous communities doesn’t say a whole lot). In this sequel, an invading nation attempts to colonize and control the nearby “forest people.” Nature itself rebels and both sides are punished for the violence, despite the fact that the colonizers are the clear instigator. In the end, it’s left to the palest, blondest, blue-eyedest character to make things right for everyone while the forest people are relegated to the sidelines. The writers mitigate this with a key plot twist, but it isn’t enough.
That said, the soundtrack features some real bangers, ones that children everywhere (and a good number of adults) will be belting out in the backseat for months. “Into the Unknown” is already being touted as the new “Let It Go,” but “Show Yourself,” performed by Idina Menzel and Evan Rachel Wood, is the soundtrack’s true standout.
Frozen 2, which reunites cast members Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, hits theatres on November 22. Watch the newest trailer below.