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Frozen 2 Is All Things Progressive, But Where Has The Fun Of The Original Gone?

Posted: November 27, 2019

While some fans have lauded Frozen 2 for taking on bold themes such as colonialism and discrimination, others such as this reviewer found the movie heavy-handed.

I am a huge fan of fairytales – the dresses, the balls and yes, the Prince Charming. I also like to think that I am a feminist. So no matter how gorgeous the ball gown or how swoon worthy the prince, there is still an element of patriarchy. Cinderella and Belle in all their live action glory still needed a man to get their happily ever after.

Then came Elsa, a kickass princess who rescues herself, saves her kingdom and learns to control her cool ice powers (pun intended) all with the help of her sister, a reindeer and a talking snowman.

The movie Frozen came out in 2013, becoming the highest grossing animated movie worldwide. At the time I found it just a cute movie with a catchy soundtrack. However it soon became clear that is was much more. With the genre defying trope of the so-called Prince Charming as the villain and the sweet portrayal of sisterly love it was much more than your average fairytale. And yes, it was a hit with the kids. So when I realized Frozen 2 had come out I had to see it, even if I’m not a kid.

Frozen 2 released seven years after the successful first movie – it is the continuation of the events of Frozen, starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff. Elsa is finally content in her role as Queen of Arendelle, Anna is sweet and carefree as always and Olaf the talking snowman is as funny as ever.

The sisters finally seem to have found their happily ever after, but trouble is brewing in the kingdom and when Elsa unintentionally awakens a series of powerful spirits she and her friends must right a wrong committed long ago, find out the truth about their parents past and restore order and harmony to the kingdom.

Like it’s predecessor, the movie is very women centric. A powerful woman rules the land with wisdom and courage and all the female characters from Elsa and Anna to their late mother Iduna seem to be fixing the mistakes made by the men in their lives. The closeness of the sisters is highlighted and it is heartwarming to see such a strong bond of sisterhood that Anna prioritises her boyfriend Kristoff. Elsa is still trying to protect Anna and sometimes making decisions on her behalf to save her.

Unfortunately, these elements and the wonderful costumes (Elsa, can I have that white dress?) and extraordinary CGI were the only good parts of the movie. The first Frozen movie was an innocent coming of age narrative that organically became a girl power story. The sequel however feels as if it is trying too hard. The themes are much darker and the mythology and flashbacks might be too much for younger children to understand. The fighting might disturb them and the spirits (of water and fire especially) may be too scary for a children’s movie.

In their quest to recapture the unintentional feminist themes of the original, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee have ended up producing a heavy handed allegory about the evils of colonialism and discrimination against native tribes while invoking elements of Greek and Norse mythology. For example, the actions of the aisters’ grandfather Runeard who provoked a war with the neighboring kingdom of Northuldra, feel like too much of a political statement for a fairytale. Also, the revelation that Elsa and Anna are mixed race makes no sense and seems likely a last minute retcon in an attempt to seem more diverse.

All in all, though it had the girl power, catchy songs and amazing cinematography of the original, it lacked the fun and lighthearted air of the first Frozen.

As the BBC’s Nicholas Barber says, “In a way, it’s admirable that Buck and Lee didn’t play it safe, and that instead of making a simple fairy-tale they attempted a world-building, mind-expanding epic… but their barely comprehensible folly is so weird and bleak, and so full of magnificent, hallucinatory imagery, that it could be embraced by students as a midnight movie. Younger Elsa and Anna fans, on the other hand, will either be covering their eyes in distress or scratching their heads in confusion.”

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Daughter-Sister-Student-Feminist-Nerd @nonsense.scribbles

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