It’s almost difficult to believe that the phenomenon launched by the release of Frozen was close to six years ago, when the film hit theaters in North America on November 27, 2013. What resulted in that year, and in many subsequent years afterward was an explosion of popularity, from endless merchandise, television and theatrical specials, and theme park experiences. Now, just six years later, Frozen II, elevates the already rich environment and character dynamics to create a wonderful sequel that builds upon everything wonderful about this franchise, to begin with.
Perhaps it is not the show-stopping film that Frozen was, but the sequel takes compelling and ambitious directions with its story, presenting a full-scale fantasy epic exploring new fantastical concepts that exist within the realm of Arendalle. Frozen II tackles big themes, and most of them pay off exceedingly well throughout the duration of the film, and the characters are further explored beyond their initial film. While it feels clumsy and flawed at times, it succeeds at building a strong story around its characters and cements itself as another Disney classic. If Frozen was about the acceptance of oneself and the importance of family, then Frozen II is about belief in oneself, determination, and allowing those close to us the freedom to find themselves. With this new film, several characters are pushed to the edge of losing everything, and the film chronicles each key character dealing with the fallout of the events of the film, and how they deal with those changes. Many of the film’s core sacrifices don’t land particularly well, but Frozen II’s heart is in the right place, and the character journey is compelling enough to allow it to stand as a worthy tale.
As it is a bit of a mixed result at times, Frozen II at times feels stuck between building a new adventure for its characters but also gets stuck at times in its inability to separate itself from the phenomenon of the first film. It succeeds when its not constantly reminding its audience of the far-greater first film and recapping its events in moments that feel like easy unneeded nostalgia-grabs. It’s a darker tale, certainly, but it often falls into the trouble of attributing its existence to what came before it, when it has the free canvas of painting an entirely new tale.
Returning from the spectacle that won them an Academy-Award for Best Song, the husband-and-wife duo of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez return to create original new music for the film, with the endlessly catchy ‘Into the Unknown’, the powerful (and new contender for ‘best new Elsa song’) ‘Show Yourself’, and the solemn ‘The Next Right Thing’. Elsewhere, the tunes are catchy and funny, including Kristoff’s (Jonathan Groff) 80s rock ballad, ‘Lost in the Woods’ and the opening number ‘Some Things Never Change’. In keeping with the tone of the original, directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have returned for the sequel, as well as the composer, Christophe Beck to fit with the franchise’s overall direction.
Despite it’s few flaws and rapidly change of pace, Frozen II is the meaningful sequel that creates a compelling story and journey for its characters, that, while could have been far more meaningful with greater storytelling bravery, is still a worthwhile adventure and a welcome addition to the Walt Disney Animation Studios library of films.
Frozen II is now playing in theaters nationwide.