Reviewed by:Blake Wilson
Going on an adventure quest into the unknown
Belief in a strange and unknown destiny
Supernatural force ravaging the kingdom
Sister sister relationships
Trying to save a kingdom
Searching for the origin of magic powers
Female empowerment message—presenting “Elsa as a serious role model/inspiration for girls and young women, a resilient, can-do, nothing-can-stop-me character able to overcome any challenge in her path”
Becoming a brooding woman of “dark powers”
About WINDS AND STORMS in the Bible
Snow in the Bible
About ice in the Bible
Does God control the weather? Does He send deadly storms? Are “natural disasters” truly ordained by God, even though they sometimes kill thousands? What does the Bible teach?
What causes the seasons? Answer—an illustrated explanation
What are some weather extremes on Earth? Answer
Kristen Bell … Anna (voice)—Princess of Arendelle
Idina Menzel … Elsa (voice)—Queen of Arendelle and Anna’s elder sister who possesses magical ice powers
Jonathan Groff … Kristoff (voice)—an iceman who is Anna’s boyfriend
Evan Rachel Wood … Queen Iduna (voice)—the mother of Elsa and Anna
Alfred Molina … King Agnarr (voice)—father of Elsa and Anna
Sterling K. Brown … Lieutenant Destin Mattias (voice)
Jason Ritter … Ryder (voice)
Alan Tudyk … The Duke of Weselton / a Guard / Northuldra Leader / Arendellian Soldier (voices)
Josh Gad … Olaf (voice)—a sentient snowman created by Elsa
Ciarán Hinds … Grand Pabbie (voice)—leader of the Trolls
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Peter Del Vecho
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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
“Beware the frozen heart, indeed.”
Prequel: “Frozen” (2013)
“Frozen 2” begins with a flashback to Princess Anna and Queen Elsa as kids being told a story by their father. He tells them of an enchanted forest that was mysteriously sealed off to Arendelle and the outside world due to an issue that no one seems to know about. The only thing known is that the friendly relations between Arendelle and the neighboring Northuldrans were severed by this point.
Years later, and after the events of the first movie, Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven and Olaf (Josh Gad) are all living happily everafter. Kristoff is about to propose to Anna when Elsa starts to hear a mysterious voice calling her. No one else notices it but her. Okay, that’s weird so far. Then it happens more and more. And then, all of a sudden, this phenomena causes a weird weather event in Arendelle.
Remembering the stories of their childhood, Elsa is told by Grandpabbie Troll to follow after this voice. Joined by her friends, Elsa must find out what’s causing these events to happen, and why she is being called. Could it perhaps have something to do with why she has powers? Could it involve her parents somehow? Or could there be something more sinister waiting in the unknown? Or could the past reveal something that might solve the mystery of the barrier?
If that sounds like a lot, you’re not wrong. Because “Frozen 2” attempts to pack so much into its story, and that’s not for the better. There’s so much going on that it becomes difficult to follow in many areas. It relies way too much on exposition and backstory, while not showing enough flashbacks to really connect the dots and make the transitions smooth. I found myself lost in a handful of scenes.
However, the film features a lot of well-scripted moments and some strong character development for its two leads. The voice acting is even better, too. Menzel and Bell show more vulnerable and interesting sides to their characters, while Gad shines again as Olaf in many scene-stealing moments. Evan Rachel Wood (Queen Iduna) and Sterling K. Brown (Lieutenant Destin Mattias) prove solid additions to the cast. Also, despite a more serious tone, the writers succeed in keeping things light along the way.
The soundtrack is mostly impressive, even if a good chunk of it doesn’t carry the same classic Disney-sounding quality of its predecessor. The easy stand-out for me is “Into the Unknown,” which carries a somewhat haunting, yet memorable vibe (Panic! At the Disco’s end credits version is very strong too). Menzel is given a second song, “Show Yourself,” which carries “Defying Gravity” vibes, with a fantastic ending. Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing,” gets to be the film’s closing song, and also carries a strong emotional impact.
The weaker of the tunes include the opening song “Some Things Never Change,” and Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods.” I understand why the songwriters included it, as Kristoff had almost nothing to sing last time. But, the song is so out-of-place with the film’s tone (it feels and sounds akin to a Donny Osmond song from the late-80’s), and it’s shot in a way that pulls you out of the film’s story. It should have been on the cutting room floor. The scene actually starts off with a reprise of the first film’s “Reindeers are Better than People,” and honestly, that would have been enough with a few more lyrics added.
The animation is beautiful, with painterly backgrounds that bring to mind “Sleeping Beauty” (1959). Characters and effects are given neat touches, and there’s a few stunning sequences I wish to not spoil. Christophe Beck expands on his terrific score from the original and adds some intriguing instrumental moments. There’s several great jokes, though the film relies a little too heavily on references and callbacks to the 2013 original. They are funny (in fact, there’s even a hysterical moment when Olaf summarizes the plot of the original to new characters), but they aren’t exactly needed.
“Frozen 2” has a lot to say, and most of it involves strong messages that are Biblically true. The main message involves how to deal with and handle change when it comes our way. The film addresses that we tend to take things (and people) for granted as well as break into despair when our “world” falls apart. We see that through Elsa going off on her own and Anna not willing to let her go after saying she would never leave her side. We also see it through Anna and Elsa grappling with the truth about what happened to their parents.
The truth is, change is one of only a few things that is permanent in life. And at the same time, we aren’t meant to always stand still in our current comfort zone. We are meant for bigger and better things, just like Elsa in the movie. And while God is sadly never mentioned, it’s not a stretch to connect the dots between this message and the words of Jeremiah 29:11. We may not be able to see what’s coming, but we can trust that God knows what’s best for us and our future.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11
Throughout the film, we are reminded to be prepared and to hold fast through unexpected tough times. In Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing,” she reminds us to take things one step at a time even when grief and hurt want to hold us back. She also mentions trusting a “tiny voice” inside her head that she feels she needs to believe. For Christians, this can serve as a reminder to listen for the voice of God when we are unsure of where to go or what to do next in life.
Olaf, who is also astounded by the change around him, comes to a conclusion at one point that there is one thing that never changes… love. That reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:8, which says, “Love never fails.” And we all know that God and His love for His true children never change for us, even through our changing circumstances.
One of the film’s other songs, “Into the Unknown,” also deals with change, and the fear and intrigue that goes along with it. Elsa says, “I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you into the unknown.” I found this to be an interesting (and realistic) connotation to a believer pondering whether to take a step of faith into the calling God has on his (or her) life. We may not know what we will get into, and sometimes it can require sacrifice. At the same time, however, Scripture encourages us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In the meantime, the main characters all risk their lives willingly for each other. Anna’s dedication to Elsa and wanting to be by her side is touching and profound at times.
Adult Content: Nothing major to note. Anna asks Kristoff about what they want to do while sleigh-riding alone (and makes a kissing face). And they do kiss a handful of times. In response to Kristoff dressing fancy for one moment, Anna says, “I prefer you in leather anyway.” There is a low-cut dress or two. As a child, Anna (innocently) pretends to have a prince and princess doll kiss, and say they all get married (to Elsa’s disgust).
NOTE: As many readers know, “Frozen 2” was surrounded by social media campaigns throughout its production to give Elsa a female love interest for the purpose of “LGBT representation.” I am relieved to report that this does not happen in any shape or form in the movie.
Violence: There are a handful of scenes that may frighten younger children. The most intense is a scene where Elsa uses her magic to try and tame a water horse. At one point, Elsa is shown being dragged through water and almost appears to be passing out from water intake. The four elemental “spirits” are shown to be dangerous. The fire spirit causes a major forest fire, which causes a major perilous situation and trees to fall. A flood nearly engulfs Arendelle. Some characters fall from significant heights. Others get blown about “Wizard of Oz” style in a tornado. One character gets frozen into ice. Olaf’s body gets blown apart, kicked, his arms ripped, etc. (for comedic purposes mostly). We see a battle scene early on in the film that involves some combat (it’s fairly brief).
Somewhat scary rock monsters throw stones and destroy a dam. A series of heavy winds causes some minor property damage in Arendelle. We see ice sculptures depicting violent events right before they happen (for instance, someone about to murder a Northuldra leader). Anna and Olaf go on a slightly reckless ride in an ice canoe, including plunging down a waterfall.
SPOILER ALERT: Two of the film’s main characters seem to die at one point. These moments may upset some younger fans.
Language: One unfinished use of “what the…?” Beyond that, nothing else objectionable.
Other: Olaf talks briefly about how wombats “poop in squares,” and his lack of clothes as well (saying he finds clothes “restricting”). He talks about how the water we drink goes through four different specimens (pointing to Sven’s rear end in the process, leading the reindeer to spit the water out in disgust). Olaf briefly warns others about touching his feet, saying, “you don’t know where they’ve been.”
The film is definitely more “spiritual” than the first “Frozen,” with elemental spirits shown for earth, water, fire, and air (yes, that does sound like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” doesn’t it?). And while some of these spirits later turn out to be animals (at least in appearance), they seem to have strong powers. SPOILER ALERT: We later learn that Elsa is the “fifth spirit,” meant to be a bridge between the two worlds and four elements. (End Spoiler)
We hear a bit about Northuldra religious tradition. It’s suggested that a river has the power to hold memories, and that water contains memory. Elsa and Anna’s parents apparently have some sort of spiritual connection to Elsa, but it’s relatively unexplained.
The plot point and problem about how Arendelle severed relations with the Northuldra tribe may remind some of political reparations and today’s complicated relationships between modern-day America and Native Americans.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think “Frozen 2” needed to exist. The first film was a modern-day classic, ending in a good place and giving Anna and Elsa a happy ending that was pretty different from most Disney fairy tales. Instead of just having a new prince and princess live happily ever after, we see two sisters reconciled and becoming a family again. That plus the strong, Christian message of sacrificial love (and how love is so much more than just romantic love) make it stand out among the Disney canon. No wonder audiences everywhere couldn’t let it go.
But, of course, when you earn over a billion dollars at the box office, you pretty much have no choice, right? (Wrong!) Of course, for fans, we enjoy the idea of sequels to revisit favorite characters. But, almost every time (with a few exceptions), the impact of the original can’t be replicated. Which makes “Frozen 2” an interesting case. Coming out of it, I thought it had some great ingredients and terrific moments. But, what’s supposed to hold it all together is what really needed work. The overall narrative and story is too complicated and convoluted, and holds this particular sequel back from truly soaring.
Also, while “Frozen 2” isn’t as problematic as it could have been, it still carries some interesting issues, especially for families with young girls ready to show up with their princess dress. There’s enough here that might (for some) make this unsuitable for families with younger kids. For one, this movie is serious and sad at times, with discussions on grief, change, letting go, and death.
Secondly, the film delves into some surprisingly spiritual problems that will likely be problematic for some believers. And there’s also some moments that may be too intense for younger ones also. For those who decide to watch, parents may want to watch the movie for themselves first and then have a pre-watch discussion about some of these issues with their children.
With all of this in mind, it’s safe to assume that this sequel was made more for fans who have grown up six years since the original. And, despite its issues, the film still has plenty to enjoy. The soundtrack is fantastic (mostly), and carries some of the best songs I’ve heard in a Disney movie in quite some time. The characters are given a lot of moments to shine in ways they couldn’t in the first film. The animation is terrific. There’s a lot of great humor. And the film’s very strong and sometimes very Biblical themes are definitely worth praising, and also resonated with me personally.
So, in the end, I liked “Frozen 2.” But I can’t say I loved it. Fans of the original should keep their expectations in check. Lightning almost never strikes in the same place twice. And while it is certainly not for lack of trying, the feeling of a missed opportunity for something even better is amiss (just barely above the ice).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.