Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 43 minutes, Directors – Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Elsa (Idina Menzel) and sister Anna (Kristen Bell) follow a mysterious voice into an enchanted forest after an unknown threat attacks and removes all elements from their kingdom
Back in 2013 Frozen-fever (not the short film featuring characters from the film) swept the world. The soundtrack flooded cars and homes, kids had new favourite characters and the inescapable Let It Go still remains an earworm to this day – something which the sequel makes reference to. No surprise then that the film went on to become the highest grossing animated film of all time at the box office, once the fifth (now the fifteenth) biggest film of all time the film went on to gross over $1.29 billion worldwide. Therefore there’s no surprise that Disney announced that a sequel would be on the way, but one that’s a rarity for the studio. A theatrically released sequel, not Direct-To-DVD, even more so a theatrically released sequel to a Disney princess film.
Frozen II opens with some relatively conventional ideas for such a sequel – Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is getting ready to propose to Anna (Kristen Bell) – although not quite being able to get his words right – who, along with sister Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), are getting back into the swing of things within the kingdom of Arendelle. Everything seems laid back and relaxed, to the point where the sing about how some of the best things in their lives never change. However, everything begins to change when Elsa begins to hear a mysterious singing voice, soon everything in Arendelle changes as the whole landscape changes, the water and light all disappearing too. As the entire kingdom is thrown out, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf (Josh Gad) all venture to an enchanted forest where they hope the answer to saving their home lies.
In many ways the first film was an animated Broadway show. Grand musical numbers, adventure and fairytale plot. The sequel might not capture the same Broadway feel in terms of its musical numbers, not a great deal of which stand out; although Into The Unknown has been understandably labelled as this film’s anthem, and Show Yourself is also a quietly great track. In some ways Frozen II is more deeply rooted in fantasy than its predecessor. The almost mythical personified workings of the enchanted forest – with wind that seems to have a life of its own, which quickly gets named Gale – creates a vivid world of history and fantasy both for the characters and the audience who find themselves brought into the piece with relative ease. Helped by the strong animation and wonderful visual style and flair that the piece holds, bringing about a slightly autumnal twist on the wintry look that the majority of the first feature held.
There’s a fair deal of simplicity to the general plot and ideas that are presented within the sequel, some slight retreads and conventional ideas amongst the more bolder plot points that are put across – mostly those coming from Elsa’s individual personal journey through her past and powers. Anna still by her side and equally strong and fearless, determined not to loose her sister, whose powers could easily cause as much danger as the forest they find themselves in. Jennifer Lee proves in her screenplay and direction that these are not just one-hit-wonder characters. They are strong, passionate figures who are not to be relegated to a Direct-To-DVD sequel. They are deserving of the sequel that they get and very much dominate the screen with power and style far more than the Disney princesses of old. And there’s a lot to be enjoyed about when in their presence.
The scenes with Elsa simply belting out her signature songs, and those with more action, showing genuine consequences for each character, are the highlights of the film. Truly standing out amongst the slight convention and tangents presented to show the whereabouts of the likes of Kristoff – who almost seems to disappear for a large proportion of the narrative – and at times when delving into the general backstory and history of Arendelle and the forest in which much of the plot unfolds in. However, despite this there’s still a fair deal to like about this sequel. It’s bold and occasionally loud, and proud of that fact. It knows what it wants to do and while there’s a brief feeling once or twice that the film might begin to stagger its overall fantasy nature and passionate characters bring it through to a fine follow-up that manages to avoid being simply labelled as a cash-in thanks to the heart that flows through it.
The storm might not quite rage on in this sequel however the highly creative feel, passion and heart that runs through are enough to keep Frozen II afloat. Making it a worthwhile, finely animated feature that helps to develop some of Disney’s strongest, and most likeable, characters.