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Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 - Documentary Review

Kidzworld checks out the first 3 episodes of this interesting Making Of doc.

Reviewed by on Jun 22, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Frozen 2 is the #1 animated film of all time. How’d they do that? Kidzworld reviews the six part documentary series that dishes the details starting June 26th on Disney+. We review the first three episodes of Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2.

When Disney filmmakers were frantically creating Frozen 2, they realized that the fans of the film probably should know more about the intricate process that puts an epic animated musical together. Documentary cameras recorded each step, each meeting of story execs, each difficult-to-animate scene, each session in which the songwriters struggled to tell the story with their music as time until the film’s premiere was running out. The result is a six-part “Making Of” documentary series streaming on Disney+ starting June 26th. Here is our take on the first three episodes.

Into the Unknown | Behind the Scenes



Episode 101 - “A Year to Premiere” 

With only 11 months until the world premiere, Frozen 2 filmmakers screen their current, rough version of the film to their fellow Disney Animation directors and artists. It’s clear there is much work to do with little time to do it, particularly on the song “Show Yourself” - while “Some Things Never Change” and “Into the Unknown” kick off cast and orchestra recordings.

Director Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho, writer/director Jennifer LeeDirector Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho, writer/director Jennifer LeeCourtesy of Disney

“Characters feel like family and this is what drives us”, says director/writer/chief creative officer Jennifer Lee. “It’s scary. We all are actively going into the unknown”. Episode 101 deals with the constant tweaking of story, music, character/scene design that puts amazing pressure on the creative team working toward their premiere deadline. We see lead actors Idina Menzel (Elsa) and Kristen Bell (Anna) recording songs and Idina reacting to hearing “Into the Unknown” played by a giant orchestra for the first time.

Screening of rough animation for filmmaker inputScreening of rough animation for filmmaker inputCourtesy of Disney

We follow a young, female animator as she takes notes, starts over, etc. on her scene in which Elsa chases the siren voice to the edge of the “unknown”. Idina visits to cheer her on. Attention is given to making the story make more sense. Will everyone watching actually “get” what is going on? Watching, you feel the urgency and heart everyone involved puts into their work. Very informative and entertaining!

Episode 102 - “Back to the Drawing Board” 

Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez propose an ‘80’s rock ballad-inspired song for Kristoff, “Lost in the Woods,” much to the joy of directors Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck and actor Jonathan Groff. With the next internal screening a few weeks away, “Show Yourself” continues to be a challenge, with filmmakers and songwriters all having a tough conversation about its place within the film.

Husband and wife songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert LopezHusband and wife songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert LopezCourtesy of Disney

The songwriters decide to write an ‘80’s style power ballad for Kristoff called “Lost in the Woods”. We see their writing process. Kristen Bell sees the first trailer for the film and is blown away. We watch Jonathan Groff who voices both Kristoff and reindeer Sven record the new song and harmony by the several reindeer. Funny and fun. The Filmmakers work 14 hour days six and sometimes seven days a week. With a few months left the movie is only 25% animated and songs keep being changed to fit the story better. This episode makes you wonder how these hard-working creatives survive!

Kristoff/Sven actor Jonathan Groff records new materialKristoff/Sven actor Jonathan Groff records new materialCourtesy of Disney

Episode 103 - “Journey to Ahtohallan” 

Frozen 2’s March internal screening at Disney Animation proves to be a “live-or-die” moment for two songs: “See The Sky” and “Show Yourself.” Sterling K. Brown and Evan Rachel Wood record for their characters, Mattias and Iduna, as Kristen Bell and director Chris Buck share the deep meaning and emotional resonance behind Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing.”

Evan Rachel Wood records the voice of Queen IdunaEvan Rachel Wood records the voice of Queen IdunaCourtesy of Disney

With eight months until the film’s premiere, the group is still having trouble getting the story across with the song “Show Yourself”. Who is really calling Elsa? It is finally decided that the voice is that of her mother. New words are added and the song “See the Sky” is cut from the film. Actors have to record additional dialogue to facilitate these changes. Actress Evan Rachel Wood comes in to sing a new part of the “Show Yourself” song as Elsa and Anna’s mom Queen Iduna and Sterling K. Brown is sad to see his song cut but records new dialogue.

Anna Actor Kristen Bell records her voiceAnna Actor Kristen Bell records her voiceCourtesy of Disney

The production design of the huge glacier world of Ahtohallan must proceed quickly and an additional artist is brought in. Kristen Bell records the very emotional “Do the Next Right Thing” song when Anna feels she has lost everything. Kristen recalls her own anguish. Both this and director Chris Buck talking of the loss of his son Ryder in a car wreck make for a sweet and very personal episode 103. Time is running out until premiere date.

Animator works on a more emotional AnnaAnimator works on a more emotional AnnaCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

Basically, what you get out of watching the first three episodes of "Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2," is just how darn hard and emotional it is for filmmakers to create an animated film, especially a musical. We not only go step-by-step with the filmmakers, actors, songwriters, designers and animators as they struggle to make the story and “look” work but gain real insight into what they go through as everything constantly changes and time till premiere is running out.

Elsa actor Idina Menzel meets with animatorsElsa actor Idina Menzel meets with animatorsCourtesy of Disney

If you ever wanted to be involved in making an animated film, this documentary will make you realize that it isn’t all a big party but real work! Are you up for it?

Young animator works on the Lost in the Woods sequenceYoung animator works on the Lost in the Woods sequenceCourtesy of Disney

For fans of the Frozen films, the doc takes you behind-the-scenes of your favorite scenes and what exactly goes into making them work. At times you feel, as I’m sure the filmmakers did, that there are just too many meetings, too much sitting around a big conference table but what is accomplished there is interesting. We look forward to the last three episodes as the premiere date draws even closer. For these first three, we can award four stars.

"Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2" Rating: 4

Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2 Series PosterCourtesy of Disney

See "Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2" on Disney+ starting June 26th

Did You Know that Animation Films are Hard Work?

Do you think you could be a good animator, writer, director etc. of an animated film or a musical one? What do you think would be the hardest job? What Frozen 2 scenes or songs really blew you away? Talk or blog it up with comments here or on your Kidzworld profile page!