Directors: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K.Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews
Written by (also story) Jennifer Lee, (story) Chris Buck, Marc Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Running Time: 104 mins
Release date: 22nd November 2019
When Frozen came out in 2012, it was at a time when Disney was struggling to find their identity. After that opening scene, you knew it was going to be a classic, up there with the best of Disney. Now comes the long-awaited sequel. On the evidence of the cinema foyer for the past few days, this is a hit. Crammed with little girls are dressed as the princesses. Is it as good as the original, though?
When Arendelle comes under attack from the elements, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven head off to a mist that has engulfed an enchanted forest for years. Once there, the group find themselves discovering the truth about Arendelle, how a dam given as a gift to the forest people was not an object of peace, and how a mysterious voice is drawing Elsa.
There is no denying that the animation is magnificent. The attention to detail of the elements, the scenery and the characters are breathtaking. This has been made with love and care. Other animated features need to sit up and take note. It’s fine to make money spinners when it comes to animations, but you can seriously tell that this wasn’t thrown together at a whim. While it looks incredible, the animation hasn’t moved forward from the first one, so a little of that magic that made Frozen so brilliant is slightly missing.
The characters have developed nicely, with Olaf, now blessed with a non-melting formula to keep him alive, has also grown up thoughts and starts questioning about existence and how the world works. Some of these gags work well, while others fall flat, especially for the younger members of the audience. Where Olaf scores highly are when he describes the events of the first film, in a hilarious scene.
The strength of the first film was the songs, most notably Let It Go. This time, the songs aren’t as much of an earworm as before, although Into The Unknown could be the new song that every child will be singing. One bizarre misstep for the film is a song by Kristoff called Lost In The Woods, which sounds like an entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, and the scene looks like a poorly made pop video from the 80s.
Where the film scores highly are the loving relationship between the characters. Anna and Elsa still look out for each other and even care about what happens. Kristoff spends his time trying to propose to Anna, while everyone loves Olaf. This doesn’t have the moral strength of the first film; the happy ending isn’t a shaken-up version of traditional happy ever afters. Instead, we have an understanding of where we belong.
The vocal talents of Kristen Bell as Anna and Idina Menzel as Elsa are spot-on, once again, with both allowed to show their singing talents on a couple of belters, while Josh Gad steals the film again as Olaf.
Frozen II is a triumph, and I am sure that every little child who has played the original film on rotation on DVD will be filling the cinemas. It doesn’t have the same magic as the first film, but it is pretty close.