Back in 2013, no-one could have seen Frozen coming. Released in a cluttered Fall calendar, it seemed that the latest Hunger Games was going to clean-up but Disney’s latest animated wonder endured. And then some. Over a $1billion gross, legions of fans buying everything plastered with the face of their newest favourites – including cuddly Olaf’s – and, of course, that song. Reverberating around millions of households ever since, Let It Go, sung by Adele Dezeem – sorry, Idina Menzel – took the film into the stratosphere and, wouldn’t you know it, to take a trip over to Arendelle’s neighbouring town: Sequelville. Cue the singing snowman…
Three years on from the events of the first film, Arendelle is at peace with Elsa (Idina Menzel) settled as the new Queen and her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) by her side, as are Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Sven the Reindeer. However, Elsa is being plagued by a mysterious voice from the north calling out to her, seemingly luring her into a trap that may or may not hold some secrets about her true power. To find the voice, the gang will have to penetrate the Enchanted forest which has been ensconced in a dark cloud for decades and could hold the key to Arendelle’s past and its future.
Smartly, the studio has gone with an “if it ain’t broke” mentality by retaining the services of original directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, the guiding lights from which much of Frozen’s success stemmed. Their creative talents both separately and together formed the backbone of the film’s many impressive feats, expertly bringing the comedy and drama together alongside the impeccable music with pathos and heart. It would have been something of a crime had the duo not returned but in the face of sequel expectations and fan clamourings, both have excelled once again.
Just as Olaf is maturing in the film, Frozen 2 follows suit, a much richer, composed experience than the first that manages to top almost everything in the best way. More depth, greater laughs and some of the best visuals we have seen from the House of Mouse in many a year. One minute we are singing along with the soon-to-take-over-the-world “Into The Unknown” (though keep your ears open for Groff’s brilliant “Lost in the Woods”), the next witnessing Olaf’s brilliant recap of the first film that features one of the year’s standout comedic moments whilst also reflecting on our impact on the environment, human prejudices and the pressures of growing up, all wrapped up in a bright, vibrant adventure across uncharted lands with all of the cast having a ball.
It doesn’t all work, with Kristoff and Anna’s characters a little underserved, as are some of the supporting characters despite classy work from Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood and more. In addition, those hoping for the barnstorming, showstopping breathlessness of the original may be surprised by this slightly more modest sequel, but its does everything a good follow-up should do: go bigger, dig deeper, mix it up and head into the unknown. And it does just that, beautifully.
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Animation, Fantasy | USA, 2019 | U | Disney Studios | 22nd November 2019 (UK) | Dir.Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee | Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Josh Gad