2013’s Frozen was and remains a cultural phenomenon for kids around the globe. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and reindeer Sven made their way into popular culture and have never retreated, becoming some of Disney’s most beloved fictional characters.
Kaching! With that and nearly $1.3billion in box-office takings behind it, plus all the profits from toys, books and games, Frozen was a gargantuan hit on another level to anything else we had seen in the genre and it remained the highest-grossing animated film of all time until The Lion King came along earlier this year and spoiled the fun.
A sequel then was never a surprise. What was a surprise however is just how long it took Disney to get Frozen II to cinemas. It’s been six whole years since we’ve seen Elsa and the crew in a full-length film and for kids who grew up with its predecessor, this new addition needed to be more mature to keep the attention of new and existing fans. But what is the finished product like?
Set three years after the events of the first film, the story follows Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven who embark on a journey beyond their kingdom of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and save their kingdom after a mysterious voice calls out to Elsa.
Thankfully, this sequel rightly ups the maturity factor and brings back our core characters for a quest that feels suitably adult. Make no mistake, this is a family friendly film with all the typical Disney tropes, but this new film had to evolve and for the most part, it does so successfully.
The voice acting is again, very nicely done. Josh Gad’s Olaf gets a lot more to do this time around and features in some of the film’s funniest moments. He’s also there when things get a little more poignant, but as is typical from the actor, he provides decent comic relief. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (cue the Adele Dazeem jokes) are both well versed in these characters by now and perform well throughout the film.
Elsewhere, the animation has really been stepped up a notch. This is a stunning film, with detail seeping from every frame. We’ve been spoilt this year with How to Train Your Dragon 3 and Toy Story 4 showing how animation has come on since the first films in their respective franchises and Frozen 2 follows this rule.
Unfortunately, while the film looks great, the story is a little haphazard. Outside of the core mystery, there’s very little going on which is a shame as its predecessor had a central story populated with other character arcs throughout.
It’s clear from the get-go that Frozen 2 has been made to extract as much cash from the cinema-going public as possible
It’s something that is sorely lacking here and makes the 103-minute runtime feel longer than it actually is. In fact, two of the key characters get forgotten altogether, though I won’t spoilt who here. It all feels a little lazy as story elements you expect to turn into something intriguing never really materialise, and this is a continuing theme right up until the end credits role.
What should be praised however, is the film’s depiction of strong, independent women. Both Anna and Elsa are portrayed as the true heroes of the story and this makes a welcome change to the Disney films of old in which female characters would desperately search for a man to make everything better. Elsa herself has become something of an LGBT icon and it’s easy to see why, though Disney is careful to never explicitly comment on her sexuality – they’re still a little too conservative for that.
The songs, I’m sorry to say, are all but forgettable. This sequel’s Let it Go, Show Yourself is as close as Disney gets to replicating the success of the first film’s incredible soundtrack and is thankfully a thumping power ballad that’s set to become a huge hit the world over. Once you’ve left the cinema however, it’s difficult to remember any of the songs outside of this one and that’s a real shame. After all, many Disney films have escaped their poor scripts because of their great songs.
Nevertheless, there is still lots to enjoy here but unfortunately nothing that’ll make you leave the cinema under any impression that Disney has put as much effort in as they could. It’s clear from the get-go that Frozen 2 has been made to extract as much cash from the cinema-going public as possible.
To sum up then, Frozen 2 is a sequel that has matured with its audience and in doing that, the House of Mouse has created the best part of the film. With an impressive power ballad set to become the next big Disney hit, it scrapes by on the skin of its teeth – but only just. How to Train Your Dragon 3 it definitely isn’t.