Olaf the snowman is an undisputed highlight in Frozen II, which continues the story of royal sisters Elsa and Anna in their kingdom of Arendelle. It’s hardly surprising, given how endearing he was in the first movie. The snowman peppers the sequels with comedic gems and existential pearls of wisdom, while the sisters again lead the story and provide its heart. Comedy also comes courtesy of Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff, a notable standout being his ‘80s-style musical number.
Comedic moments are well-timed and delivered, often working as little shorts ensconced in the grander story. The same can be said of the action sequences: Elsa’s ocean battle with a tempestuous nokk (a water horse) is a particularly spectacular moment – both in its breathtaking pace and its gorgeous animation. Serving as the water spirit, the nokk is one of four elements Elsa meets in her search for the fifth (if you’re irresistibly reminded of The Fifth Element right now, so was I).
The other spirits are just as wonderfully imagined: earth is a formidable group of rock giants, wind is a sentient airflow dubbed Gale, and (most adorably) is Bruni the feisty, on-fire salamander. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf encounter these spirits during a trip to an enchanted forest where they meet an indigenous tribe known as the Northuldra (inspired by the real-life Sámi people) trapped in the forest along with a band of Arendellians.
Frozen II is threaded throughout with strands of magic, folklore, and enchantment, and just like its comedic moments and action-packed sequences they work beautifully. It’s in bringing all these elements together that the movie stumbles, with a script lacking in cohesiveness – which is quite ironic, given its major plot point of finding the fifth element and binding all together.
However, this doesn’t detract from what works and it’s all infused with a stunning score, gorgeous animation, and powerful new musical numbers. Norwegian singer Aurora serves as the voice that beckons Elsa to her mission, providing a haunting, ethereal counterpoint to the sweeping melodrama and comic entertainment of the other musical numbers.
It’s darker in tone than the first movie, but let’s not forget that this is the studio that killed Mufasa, lost Nemo, and imprisoned Dumbo’s mother – not to mention the countless orphans populating its animated classics. Frozen II works through its darkness to contemplate important themes, add nuance to its characters, and find a little magic along the way.
Frozen II is currently in cinemas.
Image courtesy of Disney.