Having come to terms with her powers, Elsa rules Arendelle with her sister Anna in peace. However a distance is growing between them. Anna fears Elsa’s powers and Elsa is feeling drawn elsewhere, into the unknown, where her friends cannot follow. When this urge manifests as a voice from the north, the friends must travel together to discover what spirits await them in the forest.
The successfully communicated message of Frozen 2 is one of, perhaps unsurprisingly, letting go. Specifically letting go of loved ones and not stifling their growth. In this sense it resembles recent Disney film Ralph Breaks the Internet. Anna fears Elsa’s abilities and worries she will come to harm if she indulges too far or loses track of her place in Arendelle. If the first film is about not running away from the ones you love out of fear, then this film is about not fearing the space that we all need to grow as people.
There are other themes that are less well developed. Elsa does not trust Anna or her friends and this does not get resolved. She endangers their lives by pushing them away and her journey into the unknown is reckless without comeuppance. There also themes of colonialism and tribal warfare, but these merely form the background and setting for the film. The actual tensions are built purely upon misunderstanding and so are fairly shallow and easily resolved.
The film is however a lot of fun. It looks gorgeous, really making the most of the Nordic aesthetic to create a world that is enchanting and rich. Some of the songs are very memorable and all are entertaining. The action sequences are colourful and bold without being too outlandish. When the giant rock monsters throw massive boulders at our heroes it manages to still feel dangerous.
Another interesting development is the handling of comic relief character Olaf who is given much more screen time and becomes almost a naive mentor character to the others. His childish perspective yields insights into the other characters. Ultimately he doesn’t impact on the plot in an way, but as comic relief is very effective. His song about childish fears is particularly charming.
Frozen 2 ultimately doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s more imaginative than a retread of the first film. It’s exploring some new ground, both narratively and geographically, and is just as funny and entertaining as the original. It’s still refreshing to see female children’s characters who wrestle with much more than just man trouble.