Frozen 2 has quietly made over $1 billion. The franchise is unique among Disney movies in that it doesn’t simply adapt the source material. It outright abandons Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen in favor of an original story. In some ways, Frozen has more in common with MARVEL than it does with fairytales. For me that feeling only increases with the new sequel. Disney’s long history of attempts to adapt the Snow Queen eventually culminated in the studio’s most unique fairytale movie. As a result, we now see an “open door” for a new era of Disney animation that builds on the freshness of Frozen.
The Winter of Our Discontent
Frozen 2 is unique as a sequel in this new storytelling climate. It’s more focused on world-building and expanding narratives than a retread with watered-down characters. It’s no wonder Disney Parks around the world will soon have an Arendelle that guests can actually be a part of. Although Frozen 2 is ambitious, it is not without its controversy. Despite most viewers enjoying the film, there is mild but pointed disagreement among them about the quality of the film. While some say it’s better than the first, others say it falls short. There is even more disagreement from those who dislike the film, saying that the narrative is clunky and convoluted. I agree that the story itself is not the film’s strongest point, but I also agree with the praise for the animation of the film, especially certain sequences of the film.
Tales as Old as Time
The only thing about a sequel being a sequel is that it has to work extra hard to achieve the same classic status as its predecessors. While Frozen seems to have been just right for its time and place, most Disney films are timeless. Even films with more contemporary humor like Hercules and The Emperor’s New Groove hold up because the stories themselves are powerful and enduring. Frozen 2 expands on the same conventions the original was built on. It then even goes more topical, to the point of potentially losing hope of becoming a long-time favorite. In that way, the difference between Frozen 2 and The Incredibles 2 is that Frozen’s sequel is more consistent with the first.
Without spoiling anything, Frozen 2 is a story about uncovering a past that involves warring tribes and magic spells. There are enchanted woods, elemental spirits and a quest to right the wrongs of history. The core cast of the first film returns and there are new songs in this one that somewhat resemble the big hits of the original. Most of the focus for Frozen 2 is to recapture the magic of the first, and for some fans of the franchise, Disney succeeded. I watched this understanding it was a sequel and expected such, so I was pleasantly surprised at what was new and fresh about this movie. The Frozen phenomenon is very intriguing to me because in some ways it feels like the “wishing well” has run dry and I’m very curious about what Frozen will unlock for the next decade of Disney animation.