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This was definitely a film I had to see, because I've ridden the waves of Frozen before and felt love and annoyance toward it, getting caught up in the popularity hate and coming out still appreciating what it does. I had to see what a sequel would do.
The animation is seriously improved, and that says a lot, considering that the 2013 film doesn't look at all outdated. The lighting and scenery are gorgeous, and the effects seem to be showing off even more.
The characters are nice to see again. Elsa feels more like the protagonist this time, which is a nice balance to the first film. She is still unhappy and feels out of place as Arendelle's queen, and you know what, that makes a lot of sense to me. The reasons push her to leave and find more about who she really is, and I appreciate that her issues still linger and have effects. While in the first film, you could have called LGBT readings of Elsa the result of accidental choices, they seem to double down on the subtext here. It never becomes explicit, though which is kind of disappointing, especially after she gets an even more coming-outy number than "Let it Go" that doesn't build to a real coming out. I understand why they left her open to interpretation after different LGBT groups embraced her, and am glad she's never hinted to be straight, but part of me still wishes they pushed it. It's past time for us to have openly LGBT mainstream leads. Her character is still correctly sad and frustrating and triumphant, though, and I can get why a sudden LGBT message would compete with the outsider allegory that already hits those notes.
Anna feels more mature, which is nice, and there's interesting tension between her trying to protect her more capable sister and her issues defining herself on her own.
Kristoff is a little wasted, as his primary role is to try and fail to propose to Anna throughout the film. His feelings for her are adorable and he gets a hilarious song about it, but he doesn't do much else.
Olaf feels a little less annoying this time around and got some real laughs.
The plot of the film goes heavily into adventure and worldbuilding, which is nice. Elsa's parents once told her about an enchanted forest that got sealed off by its elemental spirits, and a river of memory that has answers about the past. Restless, Elsa starts to be called by the river and accidentally gets the attention of the spirits, which attack Arendelle and force the heroes to investigate. We learn more about the parents, who manage to escape the "worst people ever" impressions they got from the first film, and more about who Elsa is. There's no real villain and I'd argue, no huge twists, but the story is satisfying and engaging. The resolution has changes take place, though I'd argue that the heroes get to have their cake and eat it too when a symbolic sacrifice doesn't actually cost them anything in the end. Ah, well. It's a family film, and it gets dark elsewhere, so I guess that's okay.
The songs are good. We get two new "Let it Go"s and I like them both, maybe even better. The rest are all nice as well and all feel more purposeful.
This film feels pretty genuine, as well. It felt like they had a story to tell, and their self-deprecating nods to the first film's overbearing popularity aren't intrusive. This doesn't feel like an overly self-correcting film in the way many of their recent entries do.
In short, I think this film is a worthwhile watch. Kristoff was too defined by romance, and maybe Elsa wasn't enough, but it's a good musical that follows up well from the first film.
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