By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Mild Spoiler Alert
“Show Yourself” may not be the definitive musical number to inspire in Frozen 2. Unlike the first film with its spectacular set pieces, this sequel tries too hard to offer refreshing ideas. It’s tough to outdo “Let it Go” because of its many meanings. This sequel at least delivers a story which answers a few questions, has a cultural sub-context which will definitely be of debate for years to come, and looks at how this kingdom continues to survive.
The expected economic examination is ignored. Instead, we find Elsa (Idina Menzel) acting a little off lately. In the side-lines, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is trying to figure out the perfect moment to propose to Anna (Kristen Bell). As the trailers have shown, the Queen of Arendelle must heed the siren’s call.
This little kingdom still has to deal with neighbouring villages as the Dark Horse Comics have revealed. Through flashbacks, we learn about the Northuldra (a fictional tribe of indigenous people inspired by the Sámi). In a moment of foreshadowing, the sister’s mother sings them a song from that world, and they must go North as though the region is summoning them.
Even further is a vast black sea. Their parents went there for a reason. Elsa sees it as a challenge, and across it may well represent Greenland. The spirits Elsa encounters are in the vein of Brave. We learn they are elementals and just how often they interact with humanity is a head scratcher. True to Disney fashion, we have a few new mascots; I’m loving the salamander, even though I’ve seen them in a PIXAR movie.
The stone gates and the strange symbols the Elsa and gang finds as from Northuldra, and they these arctic hunters are quite hearty. Yelana (Martha Plimpton) leads her people, but ever since the misty veil has prevented them from exploring, they know little about the world around them. I was hoping for a How to Train Your Dragon moment, but instead they fear the supernatural elements that surround them.
This film left me yearning for more story than musical numbers. To say they were all catchy is a mixed bag; the songs that stole it for me was “Lost in the Woods” with Groff. I’m sure Freddie Mercury in his Mr Bad Guy days would approve. Even Josh Gad had a better tune this time around instead of his intro from the first film. The chuckles are well earned with “When I’m Older” and his continued existentialism crisis.
Ultimately, Frozen 2 represents the middle part of the Hero’s Journey. My guess–since the world is very loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen–the finale will deal with facing the coming tide of organized religion. This subtext is well explored in the original work but never has in Disney’s product.
As those wondering if they should stay for the after-credits hijinks, yes it’s worth the yuks. Despite Olaf’s role of comic relief, the writing takes an inspirational note from Golden Age cinema–using humour to reprise and discuss topics about socialism. Because of this, I will remain frozen to see how the Kingdom of Arendelle survives the coming Industrial Revolution.
4 Snowflakes out of 5