Frozen II review – magical journey into the unknown with Elsa and Anna


The more times I listen to Frozen II’s rousing anthem Into the Unknown, the more I’m convinced of its earworm quality. It’s as good (and maybe better) than the indelible Let It Go. The much awaited sequel to Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s 2013 animated musical phenomenon sees Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) beckoned by a “secret siren”, whose disembodied soprano whistle leads her through the Enchanted Forest and to the River Ahtohallan to learn the difficult truth about her family’s past. “Can you face what the river knows?” sings her late mother (Evan Rachel Wood) in the opening flashback’s lullaby.

A battle means the forest has been sealed off for decades by a magical fog; Elsa and co discover that trapped within are its indigenous people, the Northuldra. The spirits of earth, air, water and fire are also volatile; the animators demonstrate the beauty, terror and instability of the elements via a neon pink forest fire and an ethereal water horse that Elsa rides across the unruly, dark sea. The new songs, on the other hand, are less consistent. Jonathan Groff’s Kristoff draws the short straw with forgettable 80s rock ballad Lost in the Woods, while chatty, cutesy snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) has a sweet but thin number about growing older, crooning with a faux-Sinatra lilt.

Frozen’s formula cleverly matched the expansive dreams and deep anxieties experienced by children with Broadway-style belters (powered by actual Broadway stars Menzel and Groff). The rage-inducing loneliness that accompanies Elsa’s power or her non-magical sister Anna’s primal fears for her family’s safety are not obstacles to be overcome but incorporated into the storytelling. Here, the idea is developed further, with Elsa and Anna (Kristen Bell) vowing to undo the damage done by generations past, thoughtfully touching on the timely themes of colonialism and the climate crisis. Indeed, Anna’s moving solo The Next Right Thing advocates for taking the first small step towards change even when the future is uncertain.