Well, well, well… it appears our innocent sister princess story is not what it seems! When Frozen burst onto the scene back in 2013, it took the world by complete, unsuspecting storm. Whatever the reason, the marketing for the first film slipped through Disney’s fingers, so the hype for Frozen had to be carried by word of mouth. And carry it did! Despite the little people initially knew of the film, the heartwarming (pun absolutely intended) tale of sisterly love and adorable sentient snowmen raked in a cool 1.276 billion dollars.
With those numbers (and those merchandise sales), a sequel was inevitable. But where was there to go with this story? Elsa, Anna, and the rest of the gang made a brief reappearance in a (rather long) Disney short ahead of the 2017 film Coco called “Spring Fever,” but that offered no insight as to what the sequel would be about. In fact, “Spring Fever”, with its pleasant green, blue, and beige color palette, looks nothing like Frozen 2. It’s clear that in the follow up film, things are about to take a dark turn — and I mean that literally, almost all the shots are in muted grays and blacks, with Elsa’s magic cutting through the darkness in a neon flourish.
And actually, the visuals feel like a good place to start in talking about this trailer. When they released the teaser a few months back I was BLOWN AWAY by the animation and visuals from even just that 30 second clip. The minute-20 trailer proved even more stunning, with shots of wide expanses, breathtaking vistas, perilous waterfalls, mystical beasts, and more of Elsa’s iconic ice powers. Regardless of what your feelings about the first one were, this one will be worth the watch for the animation alone.
Those dark visuals seem to mirror the film’s dark, mysterious plot. In the trailer, the rock troll king warns of an unknown threat Arendelle that only Elsa can stop, but in order to save the future of their kingdom, they must unlock the secrets of Elsa’s past. We’re all 5 years older now, and thus we’re going to take on some more complex, challenging themes and villains — at least in theory.
This is about as clear as the trailer makes the conflict, which doesn’t surprise me because like I mentioned before, Disney has always taken an alternative marketing approach to the Frozen films — I remember seeing just a single trailer for the first film before its opening on Thanksgiving 2013, and it was just Olaf and Sven playing with a flower they found in the snow. Anna & Elsa made no appearance. Imagine my surprise when I got into the theater on opening night and it was about a pair of princesses (ok, actually, it was a pretty pleasant surprise).
As the sequel to the highest grossing animated film of all time, Frozen 2 hardly needs a trailer. Disney could simply tweet out the release date and people would come out in spades. So with that in mind, they knew that plot could come second to intrigue, and thus we get this trailer.
As the years went on, Frozen fell under more and more scrutiny for not actually holding up as a story, and I was very much a part of this criticism. I felt that while the film was beautiful and had a lot of really great elements, the script could have used a few more runs through the editor. I got the sense that a lot of plot had been cut, and what remained were bits and pieces of a much larger story. Apparently Disney had little faith in whatever the original idea was (evil Elsa?? Magic Anna??), and now they’re trying to backtrack.
Unfortunately, Frozen 2 is going to have to do a lot of work to retcon some of the issues from the first film, like answering why Elsa magical but Anna is not, or why rock trolls are a significant part of the lore.
So now Elsa, Anna, & crew will travel “North, into the unknown” in search of answers to these questions left at the end of the first movie. In the trailer we see Elsa attempting to contact a water horse spirit (apparently called a “Nokk”), which I’m guessing she wants to guide her to wherever the Answers are. The trailer gives off an interesting spiritual vibe, and suggests that there will be a complicated backstory to the magic that they more or less brushed off in the first movie (Elsa’s magic can produce sentient beings?!).
Other than the fact that there’s a huge, looming monster in the distance — of which kind & power we can only guess — the trailer offers little explicit discussion about what the danger they face actually is. I’m not upset by this, I like a bit of mystery in my trailers, and like I said, we’re all going to see it anyway.
There’s 2 ways I see this film going: 1) the writers create an impressive sequel that pulls ties up all the loose ends while presenting a new, exciting conflict or 2) the writers give some vague, deus ex machina answers to the issues in the first one and fill the runtime with an entirely unforeseen conflict that brings about many more questions. I don’t think there’s any middle ground.
But regardless, I do have one very big, important prediction that I want to have on the record — the Frozen franchise will be a trilogy!
Yes, Frozen 2 will be the dark middle to an extensive trilogy that opens up an entire world of soft magical lore. It might not be the tightest plot in the world, maybe not mapped out from day one, but the ideas in the first one will expand outward, eventually wrapping up in a culminating finale. My guess is 3 movies, but they made Toy Story 4 so it’s hard to say if they have any plans set in stone or if they’re just going with the flow (of cash).
All of this is to say that I think this film (which astounds me that they have not come up with an actual name for it, something other than Frozen 2) will open up the world and lay some basic ground rules and backstory for Elsa’s powers, and maybe even present Anna with some powers of her own. Maybe there will be a faux-scare in which Elsa and Anna determine they are not actually sisters by blood since Anna can’t do magic, but then at the end Anna can do magic and they’re sisters again, and they combine their magical forces to defeat the Evil.
Or maybe I’ll be completely wrong and once again we’ll have no way of guessing the plot from the trailer. And I’m perfectly fine with that too. When it comes to the Frozen franchise, my expectations for story are low. It’s one of the very few films that I’m able to give a pass for the music and the visuals on their own.
I don’t want anyone to walk away with the wrong idea here — I’m genuinely excited for this film. Perhaps that comes from the fact that Frozen as a franchise is so unpredictable (Han’s evil turn, however, very predictable). There’s a million possibilities for the sequel because they opened a million plot paths in the first, yet expanded on none of them, therefore making it impossible to guess which will actually be of any importance. Is this brilliant, or is it bad plotting that we’re all adding some elevated ideas on to?
Whatever it’s going to be — convoluted or complex, intriguing or confusing — it’s going to be a hit.
Tell Us: What do you think the plot of Frozen 2 will be? Do you think there’s a master plan at play, or are they just making things up as they go?