Director: Jennifer Lee/Chris Buck | Cert: PG | Runtime: 1h 43m
It is a huge feat for a Disney movie to match or excel their predecessor. In fact, most animated sequels are denied the prestige of a theatrical release, instead relegated to the ‘straight-to-DVD’ fate. But Frozen wasn’t just any Disney animation. The ‘Let It Go’ juggernaut dominated the box office pulling in $1.2 billion and as the soundtrack sent parents mad, it was inevitable that Elsa, Anna and Olaf would return with an adventure bigger, bolder and more epic.
With Elsa now in control of her ice powers, her kingdom of Arendelle basking in the glow of autumn and her sister Anna soon to marry Kristoff, Frozen II focuses on the inevitability of change. It is also far more mature, taking note of the six years between the first movie. Gone are the child-like sentiments of true-love, instead replaced with the adventure of self-discovery through a more mythical tone founded in the mystery of Anna and Elsa’s family history. Incorporating stone giants, water-horses and indigenous tribal communities, the filmmakers have actively expanded the world beyond Arendelle with stunning vividness.
But with this expansion, the plot focuses on world-building and therefore sometimes neglecting the family mystery for far too long. Other elements remain unanswered as the credits roll asking whether the filmmakers went too big with their plot?
Whilst the story may feel congested, Disney continue to prove their talent of creating musical hits. Following on from the original score, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez reunite to produce a cacophony of songs which although don’t reach the heights of ‘Let It Go’, come pretty close.
Where Frozen II excels is the jaw-dropping animation. Each autumnal landscape is exceptional and a scene with a water-horse is utterly breath-taking, proving that Disney is untouchable when it comes to stylistic animation. Each character is effortlessly recognised and realised on the screen with an authentic humanity that makes Elsa in particular seem more accessible.
There are moments where Frozen II underwhelms, specifically in the final act, but there is enough to compensate. The emotional upbeats between Elsa and Anna, two sisters on a voyage of discovery, make Frozen II a success where it matters. Olaf provides the comical relief in much the same way as the original and Josh Gad proves why he is perfect as the voice of the lovable snowman.
The natural evolution of the character’s relationships feels organic, managing to refrain from forcing interaction for the sake of plot expansion. There are moments of genuine humour, sadness and, unlike Frozen, fear – pertaining to the PG rating instead of the Disney traditional U.
Disney may have broken its own rules when it comes to their animated sequels, but Frozen II proves why this time it was a great idea. A dynamic story which builds on the original and whilst it may not reach the heights of its predecessor, Frozen II is thoroughly enjoyable. Add in exceptional animation, wonderful music and continued development of the main characters, it’s impossible not to heed Elsa’s epic solo number and embark ‘into the unknown’.