BY TROY RIBEIRO
“Frozen II”; Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton; Direction: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee; Rating: *** (three stars)
Compared to its prequel of 2013, the tale of “Frozen II” is more entertaining than dazzling, and fluid than solid. It has all the trappings of a Disney film, yet it is not as exciting as the first edition.
It is the story of two Princesses, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), who set out on an adventure correcting the wrongs done by their previous generation.
The film opens with King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) and queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood) of Arendelle, regaling their daughters Anna and Elsa, about their Kingdom’s past. Their grandfather (Jeremy Sisto) and head general Mattias (Sterling K. Brown) are portrayed as victims of Northuldra, an indigenous tribe who lived in Ahtollan, the mystical forest that is now wrapped in mist for a long time.
Years later, all is fine in the Kingdom of Arendelle. Despite being the Queen of Arendelle and having magical abilities, Elsa is emotionally dependent upon Anna. Reunited by their last adventure, the bond between the sisters has grown and they are now closer than ever, till she hears a singing voice calling out to her, alluring her to journey off into the unknown.
Anna, followed by Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), who is in love her, his reindeer Sven, and Olaf the snowman, join Elsa on the quest into the woods somewhere close to Ahtohallan, the enchanted place that holds the secret of their parents’ disappearance, as well as the key to finding peace with nature and the Northuldra.
In a way, “Frozen II” is an origin story. It subtly tells us of how Elsa is gifted with magical abilities, namely the blessing or curse of blasting snow and ice from her fingertips. This was not revealed in the first edition.
The film is designed like a Broadway musical, with a number of songs that drive the plot and characters into action. The numbers kick off with, “The winds are blowing” followed by “Somethings never change”. But it is only when Elsa sings, “Into the Unknown” that the narrative comes anywhere close to the exalting “Let it go…” from the first edition.
And it is not until two-third of its run time, when the trolls explain: “The past is not what it seems…. The truth must be found.” That is where the story finally finds its proper course.
Visually, compared to the latest CGI driven films, “Frozen II” is attractive but not overwhelming. If “Frozen” had beautiful frames detailing the wintry environment, “Frozen II” goes a step further capturing autumn too. You can’t help but admire the amount of effort that has gone into the production to give this new adventure its own grandeur. The setting and the characters are crisp and lifelike.
Since the backdrop of the story focuses on the four elements — Earth, Water, Wind and Fire — the production designers provide an individual identity to each of these elements.
Imparting creativity they do a masterful job at expanding the canvas and creating new lands beyond Arendelle. Also, striking are Elsa’s underwater exploits.
Overall, the film, with lots of intriguing elements and a perfect ending, keeps you entertained, but it certainly lacks the style and originality of its predecessor.