Hey, friends! As obligated given it is one of the key quarantine movies shared by the masses, I watched FROZEN II a week or so ago. And wow, I kind of hated this movie. Don’t get me wrong — there were wonderful songs, the animation continued to be on point and there was a lot to love here. That said, I found the movie mostly incoherent (not a surprise, since it’s a Disney sequel). So here are the relatively minor edits I would have made to the plot to make it all make sense! Spoilers, if you have somehow escaped seeing FROZEN II while locked in your house.
The main flaw with this movie is that Anna doesn’t do anything until the last fifteen minutes.
Anna has a definite arc in the original FROZEN, even if it’s an arc that revolves entirely around other people. She wants to save her sister from herself, to understand her secrets, to show her that she is loved. Elsa’s own arc is about self-awakening — not hiding who and what you are because of fear. Anna nearly gives her life to show her sister that she is loved. She is betrayed but she keeps loving. It’s trodden ground, and it’s clear that the sequel has no idea what to do with Anna’s character. She has no motivation at the beginning of the film, and she doesn’t find it until the very end. She lives entirely in her sister’s shadow. It’s boring.
Most of my changes, are, therefore, in the beginning of the movie.
Elsa wants badly to be normal, still, to do what is right by Anna and her people. We get this motivation — and it’s not new for her. The call she hears, the pull towards the north, is something she’s actively resisting, just as she is always resisting being herself. Elsa’s arc more or less makes sense. Anna, however, spends the whole first half of the movie oblivious, reacting, and inconsistent. It is far more interesting to have her be the one pulling towards the north intellectually, creating a conflict between her and Elsa from the beginning. Anna can be the one that kicks off at least some of the events that result in the journey north easily. After all, she, too, is her mother’s daughter.
Surely she wants to know what happened to her parents.
Now that she understands that Elsa’s powers were not a figment of her dreams, now that she knows that her family has been keeping secrets, doesn’t it make sense for Anna to want to dig into them? She’s not active in running the country the way Elsa is, even though we get the impression that she loves her country and her home. What is she doing with that time that Elsa spends in meetings? Does she want to know more about the secrets that could come back to haunt Arendelle? An easy fix to the movie would be to have Anna being the one feeling a bit restless — yes, she has everything she ever wanted, but something doesn’t add up. There’s this story her parents told her when she was a child, about a land where everything is magic. There’s the mystery of her parents’ death — she could easily uncover that they left for reasons other than she assumed very early in the movie. We can get the same flashbacks, but with Anna moving the plot forward. Perhaps Kristoff feels distant from her, and that would add some sense of urgency to his constant need to propose and secure their relationship. (This was easily the most annoying part of the film. Have a sense of timing, Kristoff. Jeez.)
Elsa has been ignoring this call but then Anna shows her something — a book, a folksong (perhaps even the song their mother sang to them) and it fires something in her. She accidentally summons the elementals. Now Elsa is driven by the need to rectify the wrong she has done, and she’s tugged north by Anna, who is certain the answer lies with the Northuldra from their father’s stories, the ones she has been researching, the mystery she has been chasing. (We can skip the trolls. They do nothing for the movie, honestly. It makes more sense for this information to come from Anna, if for no other reason than that it gives her a reason to be in the movie at all.)
From there the movie can pretty much go on as filmed, with slight changes in dialogue. When Elsa begins to tame the spirits and realizes her power, she can see some kind of direct threat to Anna (instead of the other way around). The fire scene is an easy catalyzing point here, just as it was in the film. Anna’s focus might be on Elsa, but Elsa should be the angry sister, the fearful one. Anna’s a lot more vulnerable after all, and it sets up her choice when they find their parents’ ship. She can decide to finish the quest on her own to protect Anna when she realizes that this quest has previously claimed their parents’ lives, just as before. Now Anna can feel justified anger and fear for her sister — even more anger, because this was her quest to begin with. She’s the one who has pushed Elsa north. When Elsa “dies” it will be that much more traumatizing for her — this was all her idea, and she perhaps said harsh words. Now she must prove that she can finish it on her own, whether it takes her life or not.
This is Anna’s story because at the end of the movie Anna becomes queen. She shows that she has the mettle and the quickness of thought to step into being a ruler. The Anna from FROZEN II is reactionary, spooks easily, has no vision except to be loved until her sister dies and gives her a last task — a far cry from where she was at the end of the original film. She should have continued to grow in this film, instead of being a stand-in for all-powerful Elsa with no real values of her own. And that growth should have felt natural, instead of forced. All that would take is a little bit of character development at the beginning of the film, a little bit of agency — and minimal changes to the scenes and songs in question.