History On Ice

Frozen II doesn’t use a typical antagonist. Elsa doesn’t sling ice magic at some evil force to see Frozen II through to a splashy climax. Rather, the villain is history, or the warped version told to the comfortable citizens of Arendelle.

In the first son, the people sing about how they always have plenty, and things will never change. What’s missing is how Arendelle’s people reached tranquility. Unlikely a catalyst as it is, Frozen II directs ire toward historical revisionism. Arendelle is wealthy, well fed, and certain they cast no ills on anyone. Truth battles its way to the surface, revealing oppression of indigenous forest people, once invaded by Arendelle’s ancestors. That’s not even close to subtle.

Frozen II’s aggressive posturing seeks to undo centuries of myth, perpetrated even by Disney via their animated cowboy/Indian shorts and other frontier stories. In that, Frozen II feels apologetic. Elsa (Idina Menzel) sets out to answer a call (an ethereal voice), stumbling upon an uncomfortable truth about monarchies, requiring this new generation to set everything right.

Frozen II adheres tightly to that formula, flush with catchy songs

Central to this theme is understanding and empathy. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa put their problems behind. Now in this togetherness, they right other wrongs, making needed sacrifices once they see the truth. Bigotry against magic and a power hungry ruler made their land dominate. Although living in a castle, they still make right.

It’s imperfect in the end, but balanced. Frozen II is still a kid’s movie, avoiding an emotionally distressing finish. Elsa saves everyone, of course; this is not unpredictable, even painfully foreshadowed where a dam is concerned.

Being Frozen, the comedic slant, loaded with self-mocking sarcasm, brings entertainment value. It’s gorgeous too, if unremarkable and indistinct as with most studio-produced animation. A sharp family dynamic drives the central story, alongside a running romantic gag witty enough to deserve praise. In that same vein, it’s too simple, too easy in reaching a solution. Frozen II happily erases hatred set in place over decades with one command.

What matters is the level of acceptance, and whether Arendelle’s people admit their faults. In the late moments, Arendellians mingle with those they unknowingly persecuted. Everyone seems happy in that fairy tale-like way. Frozen II adheres tightly to that formula, flush with catchy songs akin to early Taylor Swift (and an ‘80s hair band anthem) sure to worm into the ear. This sequel hits those expected marks, and willingly ventures into gutsy allegories.

Video

Elsa’s magic is a consistent HDR masterwork. Glowing ice hits high brightness, this matched by sunsets and a small fire lizard. An action sequence deals with a burning forest, intense contrast peaks, paired with splendid color palettes focused on pinks and reds. Color gradients suffer no banding, even if every frame seems to call for it.

Later, Anna wanders into a cave system, carrying only a torch. Pure black surrounds her, that small flame dazzling against this backdrop. Black levels land those marks each time they need to. Frozen II pushes depth as a key factor in its visual aesthetic.

Rendered at 2K, deep, lush forests challenge the resolution. No struggles appear. It’s clean and sharp. Olaf’s subtle new snowflake “skin” isn’t lost at distance. Things like hair resolve flawlessly. Watch for clothing texture too. Wide shots of the kingdom work out each brick and roof shingle, while massive ice walls reflect their hardened form. Frozen II is expectedly beautiful.

Audio

Disney’s Atmos track offers slight improvement over other recent studio discs. Forest giants lack the full weight needed when walking, yet a heavy sea wall slams down with each wave. Certain spells stretch dynamic range, enough to feel things. Graded on the Disney Atmos curve, Frozen II performs well.

Luckily, there’s enough happening in positional channels to carry things. Wind rushes past – a literal character – ice falls to pieces in each speaker, a tornado spins up into pure audio magic, and a fire sends flames overhead as much as behind. That’s stellar mixing, this along with positional dialog always panning as required.

Extras

On the UHD, a sing-along is offered. The other bonuses pick up on the Blu-ray, with voice recording bloopers, a short easter egg/making of reel, a 12-minute peek into the story development process, and another bit on recording the score. Deleted scenes and songs comes next, with tests for gale effects (pencil and CG), music vids, and “Into the Unknown” played in 29 different languages. Mundane stuff, for the most part, and short.

Frozen II
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Frozen II, on its surface, doesn’t alter modern animation’s form, but its story embraces the fight against historical revisionism.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 43 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: