Quick Review: Frozen II

Frozen II
Score composed by Christophe Beck
Original Songs by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Score orchestrated and conducted by Tim Davies
Orchestrated by Dave Metzger, Jeremy Levy, Ryan Humphrey
Songs arranged by Dave Metzger
Vocal arrangements and conducted by Stephen Oremus
Music recorded at Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage
Score running time:  53 minutes
Deluxe Edition running time: 129 minutes
Available on Walt Disney Records

In 2013 the world was struck with frozen fever. Since the Oscar winning film debuted, there have been two short films, a Walt Disney World ride and 2018 Broadway musical.  Of course the songs were a huge part of Frozen's success. Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s songs were on repeat for several months, with Oscar winning "Let It Go" heard around the world.  Thankfully the songwriting pair and Christophe Beck reunited to expand the Arendelle world in Frozen II.

For the new songs, there is "All Is Found", "Some Things Never Change", "Into the Unknown", "When I Am Older", "Lost in the Woods", "Show Yourself", and "The Next Right Thing".  A few times in the film they revisit "Vuelie", the choral piece from the first film that's just as much musical identifier as "Let it Go".  These songs by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are honestly fantastic.  These songs are the obvious draw for most listeners, so the standard soundtrack has the songs and end credit pop versions.  The deluxe digital edition features bonus outtakes, instrumental versions and the film score.  For this review, I'm looking solely at the deluxe edition's score.

The Disney castle logo runs as Introduction begins with a choral and orchestral reprise of "Vuelie" with a hint of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" on flute.  The Northuldra is a nice cue, featuring the enchanted forest melody on bass gemshorn with some magical touches before growing larger.  Sisters is mainly a lovely cue for harp and flute featuring the Anna/Elsa theme.  Exodus features a swirling motif and gets darker around the roaring horns.

The Mist brings the gemshorn melody back, while more flutes of all types adding new textures and later the low strings join with the forest melody.  Wind adds some action and mystery, with the rhythm charging ahead and a return of a theme representing Elsa's powers from the first film and great new theme heard later.  Iduna's Scarf begins with a lovely arrangement of the melody from "All is Found" before transitioning to a vocal rendition of "Vuelie".  This standout track continues with a solo piano, flute and harp bring the lighter side of Elsa's powers theme, and then a solo horn statement of "The Next Right Thing" melody.

Fire and Ice is a flitting action cue with Elsa fighting the fire spirit, which is the repeating motif through the track.  Earth Giants introduce more menace into the score with added ethnic flute blasts.  The Ship includes solemn performances of "All is Found" representing the sister's parents and the Anna/Elsa theme returns on flute.  River Slide underscores another action moment with some stop-and-go writing, and flute blasts as the giants appear.  Dark Sea charges ahead with intense string writing building to a fantastic large orchestral moment.  

Ghosts of Arendelle Past is a lovely warm cue, with some hypnotic and ethereal patterns.  A fragmented phrase of "All is Found" on brass matches the scene's dialogue.  Gone Too Far is a beautifully sad cue with some graceful choir writing.  Rude Awakening returns to charging rhythms and flute blasts.  The Flood brings back the grand new theme, Northuldra theme, and Elsa's powers theme in large statements.  It's a great visual scene benefiting from the music.     

Reindeer Circle is a terrific choral piece, and like "Vuelie", co-composed by Frode Fjellheim and performed by Cantus.  Nearing the end of the film/album, Reunion is of course a return to several themes playing tenderly.  Epilogue is lively, and features a big melodic reprise of "Some Things Never Change".  It's delightfully cheerful and eventually transitions to another reprise of "Vuelie" at the big finale.   

With Frozen II, Christophe Beck builds on his score to Frozen (2013).  With this film, music makes more of an impact with the film.  The filmakers wanted a more mature story, and the music follows.  It features less mickey-mousing and better matches the emotional and action beats of the story.  Like the first film, the Norwegian musical elements match well to the composer's style.  Beck also interpolates song material far more, which adds to the cohesive musical storytelling.  (He did feature a few subtle song references in the first score, but perhaps too subtle).  I've been impressed by Beck's recent work, and I hope audiences dig into the deluxe edition since it's the only way to hear these songs and score.

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