Frozen II
Credit: Disney

Three months remain until Walt Disney Animation Studios unleashes the sequel storm that is Frozen 2, yet details about the film’s plot were as clear as a category-six hurricane — until D23 Expo.

Clarity arrived when the cast and creators of the upcoming November feature took the stage at Disney’s biennial convention on Saturday, revealing some new footage, music, and details about the frigid film to its many warm, toasty fans.

Directors Jennifer Lee (now also the chief creative officer of WDAS) and Chris Buck kicked off the presentation by broaching the key question Frozen 2 sought to answer — Why does Elsa have powers? — and the subsequent spiral of queries that followed as the filmmakers broke the sequel’s story. “Why was Anna born the way she was? Where were their parents really going when that ship went down? And is there really such a thing as happily ever after?”

To the point of parentage, Lee and Buck finally revealed the characters voiced by previously announced cast members Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown. “As you know, in these Disney films — I’ve been guilty of it — we tend to kill off the parents, but we’re bringing them back,” joked Buck, to which Lee clarified, “For a scene!” Wood will play Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa’s mother, seen in flashbacks singing to her young girls a lullaby about a distant, mystical river full of memory.

Brown’s character, meanwhile, appears in the film’s present: He plays Lieutenant Mattias, the leader of a group of Arendelle soldiers who have been trapped for 30 years in the enchanted forest where much of Frozen 2 is set. A brief clip showed Anna and Mattias discussing his past while the soldiers make camp in the woods.

Lee teased the film’s enchanted forest set piece as “a place of transformation where change comes for you whether you like it or not. Relationships are tested, everything you thought you knew proves to be wrong, powers that were once too strong for the world are suddenly not enough, and it’s easy to get lost.” Relationships are a key word for Frozen 2, given footage of an early scene in which Kristoff, after a game of charades, is repeatedly foisted in his intentions to propose to Anna.

Buck continued, “We can’t tell you whether they solve the mystery of the past or whether Elsa ever finds the answers about her powers, but we can tell you that Frozen 2 is even bigger and more epic, but most importantly, in the end Frozen 1 and Frozen 2 work together to form one complete story.”

Only then did the panel take a turn for the musical, and short of transcribing the very compositions, trust that the footage promises no lack of shine for Frozen 2’s new songs (by returning writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez). Elsa’s first major song, “Into the Unknown,” finds her trying to resist — and ultimately giving into — the urge to follow a melodic voice from her past that suddenly appears in her adult life. Another song arrived in the form of a live quartet, as Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff (plus a stuffed Sven sidekick) ended Disney’s studio panel with a rendition of a song about some things never changing… presumably, hopefully, already-infectiously titled “Some Things Never Change.”

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