Elsa and Anna Go Into the Unknown in FROZEN II

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Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven Go Into the Unknown for FROZEN II

FROZEN 2 has a high bar to get over, what with the first film having produced a main theme that won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Critics Choice award. But this film is all about taking leaps, as the characters go through their own transformations in this richly layered tale that is more stage musical than its predecessor.

It's autumn in Arendelle, the season that reminds us that life changes. And where the scenery does this with subtlety, Olaf the Snowman (JOSH GAD) does it with overtness. He's rather old for a snowman now, and with age comes a certain wisdom. Anna (KRISTEN BELL) assures him there are some things that will remain constant. Remember them, there will be tragic callbacks later to them in the movie. While Anna comforts Olaf that things will go on changeless, Kristoff (JONATHAN GROFF) is preparing to introduce a big change in his and Anna's life by proposing -- if he could ever get the words out without Anna finding a self-conscious way to twist all his words.

But it's Elsa (IDINA MENZEL) who is the most restless in this adventure. She's hearing a call from the north, a haunting four-note melody tied to a fairy tale she and Anna heard from their parents long ago, about an enchanted forest and a race of people, the Northuldra, who were once allies of Arondelle, but who mysteriously went to war against them. This war angered the elemental spirits of earth, water, fire and air, and a great mist settled over the forest, sealing everyone out -- and in. Elsa and Anna's father, only a boy at the time, barely escaped with his life due to the help of a mysterious Northuldran girl.

When Elsa begins to retun the call, the spirits are awakened, and turn on Arondelle, causing the citizens to evacuate the town, and sending Elsa on a quest to find out the truth of what happened in that enchanted forest two generations ago. And, of course, Anna isn't about to let her sister go anywhere without her, so the sisters, along with Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, set off to discover the truth, and in doing so, put their life through changes that advance them down their different paths. Their discoveries about their history and themselves weave a captivating tapestry that may be too complex for younger viewers to fully grasp.

The music of FROZEN II is ever-present, and almost as much of a storytelling device as is the literal narrative. "Into the Unknown" and "Show Yourself" both build on the four-note theme, making it an iconic presence of the film and blending the overlaying melodies with chilling effect. The other memorable song, although memorable for different reasons, is Kristoff's "Lost in the Woods." It's a great song, well-performed, but the older audience members may get a chuckle at the video performance, which seems to be lifted straight out of the 1980s, complete with double-exposure effects and tributes to other popular rock ballad videos from back in the day.

Ultimately, FROZEN II is going to be box office bank. Our theater was filled with young girls dressed up as Elsa and Anna, all of whom were visibly enthralled with the adventure playing out before them on the Ultrascreen at Marcus Theatres of O'Fallon. The film is a visual treat, the story has a depth and complexity that make it intriguing to follow, and the musical numbers are simply jaw-dropping. See this one on the big screen.

4.5 / 5.0