If you would like to read a spoiler free review of Frozen 2, stop reading and visit “Frozen 2 Review (Spoiler Free)” because this article is nothing but spoilers!
Frozen 2: The Whole Story (With All the Spoilers)
Frozen 2 picks up six years after Frozen ends, but starts off with a flashback to Anna and Elsa’s childhood where King Agnarr and Queen Iduna are telling them the story of Northuldra a village in the Enchanted Forest to the north of Arendelle where the people live in harmony with the magic of the four elements earth, fire, wind and water. The King tells the girls of how his Grandfather (King Runeard) took him with along to make peace with the people of Northuldra. King Runeard felt that giving the people of the Enchanted Forest a dam was a sign of peace, but the event went horribly wrong and ended in a battle that upset the powers of nature so much that the Forest locked the area down with magical mist that keeps the people of Northuldra trapped in the forest and prevents others from entering it. Their mother then sings the haunting song “All is Found” an old lullaby that is a warning but also a map of what the girls will go through when they are older.
Thankfully Disney has grown since the early 90s so Frozen 2 does not become the history changing mess that that the animated Pocahontas is. Disney worked closely with the Sámi people the Indigenous communities in Scandinavian regions. “To make sure cultural erasure didn’t happen in Frozen II, Sámi leaders entered into a contract with Disney that affirms ownership of their culture.” In the 1990’s even with tribal representatives from the Pamunkey working with them, Disney literally rewrote the history of the Jamestown area, bringing in a weeping willow as a character when that species of plant wouldn’t be introduced to the Americas until at least the 1700s, adding a waterfall in an area with a peek elevation of 3 miles above sea level in the center of the peninsula and creating a love story between a 11-13 year old that they had aged to 16-18 with a man she never had a relationship with.
This is not the case today.
Fast forward to “current day Arendelle” where Olaf and Anna sing about getting older and how while change happens. Anna explains that she is ok with these changes because she is with her family and the people she loves in the campy and perky “Some Things Never Change.” Kristoff and Sven still have their odd relationship where Kristoff speaks for Sven and he is trying to find a way to propose to Anna. We also learn that Elsa is hearing a Siren’s voice that is connected to the Dark Forest is calling her. She at first refuses to believe the voice is real and tries to ignore the voice. We learn that the girls still have their mothers shawl as a source of comfort and that they still sing “All is Found” when they need comfort. Elsa of course ends up waking the Dark Forest while singing about having had adventure already and being happy where she is with her family so why would she want to follow this unknown voice that is calling to her in “Into the Unknown.” After the spirits are awoken they attack Arendell, causing a mass evacuation of the city. Grand Pabbi and the trolls literally roll into the evacuation area, and tell Anna and Elsa that they must travel to the Enchanted Forest to set things right, so the group sets off to find the source of the voice and save Arendelle.
Upon arriving in the Dark Forest the group is separated, allowing Olaf to sing his humorous song “When I Am Older” that ends with the elements wind and fire attacking the group. After Elsa proves that they are worthy to be in the Dark Forest by fighting off a giant enchanted hurricane ball of wind and fire, the spirit of the wind calms down and is from that point represented by a group of flying leaves, that Olaf names Gayle. We also meet Bruni, the blue lizard that come to find out is the spirit of fire and loves Elsa’s cold powers. Olaf explains to us that water runs through everything and because of that it holds memories and that is why it has left behind ice sculptures of the past when it needs to get across a point or give a hint to a wrong that must be righted.
The group then realizes that the girl’s father was saved by an unknown girl from Northuldra thirty years ago, and that Lt. Mattias and members of the Arendelle Royal Guard have been trapped in the woods with the Northuldrans since the events of the movie’s opening scene and are still fighting. Yelana is the leader of the Northuldrans, a group that includes Honeymaren a young girl who knows quite a lot about the power of the four elements and tells Elsa how they believe their is a fifth one that brings together the power of wind, earth, fire and water. At this time the girls learn, through the recognition of the symbols on their mother’s shawl with the help of Honeymaren, and the ice sculpture left behind by Elsa’s previous battle with the elements, that their mother was the girl who saves their father was their mother who was a Northuldran, making Anna and Elsa half Northuldran and half Arendellian. The perfect merger of the two people and a reason for the two battling sides to set down their weapons.
Northuldran Ryder is a reindeer herder, who like Kristoff has an interesting relationship with the animals creating a special bond between the two of them that causes Ryder and Kristoff to go off into the woods to discuss how marriage proposals occur in Northuldra. This of course leads to the splitting up of the group, and after the Earth Giants (who look like rock versions of Marshmallow the snow monster in Frozen) come down to the village area where the girls are the Northuldrans head to safer ground to avoid their possible return and the girls decide it is best for them to start their travels right away because the Earth Giants were probably looking for Elsa’s magic. Kristoff, missing all of this, stays in the woods and sings the touching 80s-esque power ballad “Lost in the Woods,” which has visuals that remind you of Queen, Nsync and Backstreet Boy videos and have you laughing so hard you actually miss some of the touching lyrics.
Anna and Elsa try and follow the voice farther through the Dark Forest and end up finding the ship their parents set sail on, destroyed and grounded in the valley. (For those wondering, this confirms King Agnarr and Queen Iduna are not Tarzan’s parents as social media tried to talk you into believing several years ago.) On the ship the girls find a map that shows that they were trying to cross the Black Sea to find what the source of Elsa’s powers were. Elsa decides to embrace the concept that “water holds memory” and uses the water in the wood of the ship’s hull to show them what happened to their parents, confirming that King Agnarr and Queen Iduna did in fact sub-come to the same fate of most Disney movie heroes and heroines’ parents, they died on the ship. Until this point Elsa had been agreeing with Anna about them not separating and staying together to find answers, but when she realizes she has to cross the Black Sea to find the source of the voice she puts Anna and Olaf in a ice canoe and sends them down a track of ice she creates through the forest.
As Elsa goes to fight her way across the Black Sea she meets the Nokk. The Nokk is a mythical water spirit that takes the form of a stallion and was created by Disney using Nordic folklore elements in it’s creation. Elsa initially tries to fight off the Nokk but then realizes that it is the spirit of the water and it is there to help her. Elsa crosses the sea, finds the land of answers mentioned in the lullaby and goes through an enchanted cave singing “Show Yourself” a song that starts as her asking the person or thing she thinks is in the cave to show itself and answer her questions. Mid way through the song Elsa realizes that she is the answer she has been looking for as she is in fact the fifth power that brings the four elements together. As Elsa follows the power farther into the cave walking through her own history and the history of her family, she ends up going too far and freezes just like Anna did in Frozen just as she realizes the truth about her Grandfather.
During this time Anna and Olaf end up in a cave and while trying to escape the same image of King Runeard appears in front of Anna and Olaf. Then Olaf dies due to Elsa freezing and her powers ceasing to exist. Anna knows that the death of Olaf means something bas has happened to Elsa and she sinks into a deep sadness. The song “The Next Right Thing” to me is a song about fighting depression and sadness and just trying to take take each moment step by step. If the “death” of Olaf doesn’t upset you, this song and how it approaches loss, pain and fear will. During these joint scenes we realize, the girls grandfather was not trying to make peace with the native Northuldrans. He was using the gift of the dam as a way to earn their trust and then conquer them and that he killed the leader of the Northuldra people. Even his own men had no idea that this had been his plan the whole time.
As Anna comes to terms with the loss of Olaf and her sister and what her grandfather did she knows that she must tear down the dam even if it means the destruction of Arendelle. She realizes that the spirit of nature attacked Arendelle to make it’s people evacuate the city and get to higher ground. With the destruction of the damn being the only way to fix what King Runeard has done this also means the end of Anna and Elsa’s home. Once the damn is torn down the water it is holding back will race through the fjord and destroy everything in it’s path. Anna knows that the easiest way to destroy the huge rock wall dam is to anger the Earth Giants as they throw massive boulders as weapons. In this scene Kristoff and Sven appear and save Anna, and instead of offering to “rescue the princess” Kristoff asks what Anna needs him to do to help her. This is another great change Disney has made with the direction of their “princess” movies. The females may have love interests but Disney ensures they are their own strong characters that can rescue themselves.
Upon arriving at the dam Anna is confronted by Lt. Mattias and his men, who initially want to stop her, but Anna explains how her grandfather has wronged the Northuldra people and tricked his own people and that the only way to right this wrong is to destroy the dam. The moment the dam is destroyed a monstrous wave of angry water starts racing towards Arendelle. Because the girls have proven their and Arendelle’s worth with their actions to the spirits of the forest the spell that has frozen Elsa is broken allowing her to ride the Nokk across the sea and down the river to save Arendelle. Elsa also brings Olaf back, which helps calm down the absolute gutting that we all went through not ten minutes prior, and Kristoff finally figures out how to propose to Anna. Elsa then decides that she and her new fancy white and silver pants suit, are suppose to stay in Northuldra to protect the Dark Forest and the people that live there. She also decides that Anna should become the queen of Arendelle, in her new dark green dress, but they will still get together every week for family game night. The reason I mention the girl’s new outfits is because as of 11/22 Anna and Elsa are meeting guests in these costumes in Disney Parks around the world and this meet and greet costume change being seen as a “spoiler” by some. So if you are heading to the Disney Parks soon and plan on visiting Anna and Elsa in Epcot or California Adventure (or any other Disney Park in Asia or Paris) and don’t want to explain to your children why the girls aren’t in their original Frozen dresses, I would encourage see the movie before you leave on vacation.
Photo Courtesy by YoYo.C Photography
Overall, the movie is amazing and I can’t wait to see it again. While I am not as hooked on “Into the Unknown” as I was “Let it Go” it is still quite the ear worm and the movie’s music is amazing. Unlike Frozen, this movie addresses several mature topics like growing older and the changes in relationships and interactions you have with others that occur as you grow, betrayal, native people being attacked by the countries that take over their land, reparation and death and the acceptance of death. The death of Olaf, even though he comes back really was upsetting even to the adults in our party, which is what leads us to feel like this is not a “little kids” movie at all. In the past Disney has stuck with the killing of a main characters parent (or the implying that they are dead) and the killing of villains at the end of their movies. Ray in Princess and the Frog is the only sidekick I can think of that Disney has killed on or off screen in a Disney animated movie, and people didn’t seem to be as attached to Ray as they are Olaf. Olaf is so beloved he even has his own cartoon short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” so this particular loss is hard to process and stomach. I honestly don’t feel like they “killed” Elsa, mainly because the visuals used when she froze reminded me too much of how Anna was posed when she froze in Frozen giving me hope that Elsa would in fact “thaw” and return to the family.
All images in this article unless noted other wise are courtesy of Disney.