FROZEN II (2019) successfully recaptures the magic and heart of its predecessor

Frozen took the world by storm when it landed back in 2013, now, 6 years later, Anna, Elsa and friends are back for another fun-filled adventure with heart, magic and humour in Frozen II. This highly-anticipated sequel sends the crew we all know and love on an adventure to an ancient enchanted forest where they’ll face many trials as they hunt for the elusive origin of Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) powers.

What makes this story so compelling is that it feels like an adventure, as if you’re alongside the crew as they overcome the obstacles in their way of obtaining the truth. It makes for a really fun ride right from the get-go since we’ve already been introduced to all the characters and they can just get right into kicking off the adventure. It’s a story that’s constantly moving and covers a lot of ground over the course of the film, which really keeps you on your toes. What makes a thrilling adventure? Great characters, treacherous obstacles, an achievable end goal and most importantly; some genuine stakes.

Now, you don’t necessarily go into Frozen II expecting one of the lead characters to die at any point, but that doesn’t mean there’s no stakes at play when it comes to their safety and the strength of their relationships. The writers know you care about the characters so they set up a number of scenarios that clouds the characters’ journeys going forward, resulting in some rather unpredictable twists and turns. They tug on those emotional heart strings and use humour to balance out some of the heavily emotional moments. It’s a spectacular balance that has been executed to near perfection in both films so far.

When it comes to humour, being an animated film instantly gets people on the side of thinking it’s just for kids. That’s hardly the case here as the film is filled with targeted humour that the whole family can enjoy from beginning to end. There’s the more obvious physical humour that kids will get a good laugh out of, but there’s also a good amount of quick, witty one liners and comedic sequences that garner a hefty laugh from the crowd. The humour is spread between the lead characters, but there are obviously some, like Olaf (Josh Gad), who distribute more than most and deliver some damn great laughs that are still funny long after the credits roll.

What’s a charming story full of heart and emotion without the characters and performances to go with it. In the story, some time has passed so the characters are older and that’s depicted fantastically through the writing in some subtle ways. It’s a nice detail to be able to recognise growth in the characters since the fans of the original film have also grown since its 2013 release. Each character gets their fair share of the spotlight and it ensures that whether Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa, Olaf or Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is your favourite, there’s enough of each of them to get a good kick out of.

The writing does help to establish the characters, but it’s the performances that bring them to life. The ensemble cast are just as phenomenal when jumping right back into the roles they left 6 years ago (aside from the Olaf’s Frozen Adventure short in 2017). Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell share a sisterly chemistry that brings this world to life in every scene whether they are a part of it or not. The two of them carry the essence of the film and convey every uplifting and daunting emotion phenomenally well. As expected, the story goes to some pretty emotional places and the two of them really sell the desperation and hardships of their characters.

Aside from them, Josh Gad (Olaf) and Jonathan Groff (Kristoff) bring two unique personalities that act as a nice breath of fresh air in the context of the story. Their characters each have their own arcs that they go on and they both bring some emotional investment into their journeys in relatively unique ways. I do feel though that Kristoff’s journey draws back the pacing of the core adventure through the second act but has a nice payoff in the end. Other supporting performers such as Evan Rachel Wood and Stirling K. Brown, as Iduna and Mattias respectively, make their mark on the story, albeit in very minor capacities.

The reason everyone is going to see Frozen II (aside from parents of young children) is to hear the new music that will be blasted in the homes of families for months or years to come. From beginning to end, this sequel is packed to the brim with spine-tingling music around every corner. Every single song, save for maybe one or two is absolutely incredible. I’m not using spine-tingling as an adjective because it sounds cool, I’m using it because I had genuine chills in the theatre listening to some of the music. Nine times out of ten it came down to Idina Menzel’s voice, which is absolutely angelic. There are some massive hits in here that I guarantee you’ll be hearing for months to come… just not as frequently as Let it Go.

Lastly, the animation is as crisp and clear as ever and I really don’t think this is a surprise to anyone when it comes to Disney animation. The environments are crafted in a way that has them sit firmly between realistic and mystical.

In the end, it’s safe to say that Frozen II hasn’t made the cultural splash that Frozen has, but that’s to be expected when something exceeds expectations so tremendously. What it has done, is follow up one of the greatest animated films of all time with a product that successfully recaptures the spell-binding magic and heart of its predecessor. The story takes the form of a thrilling adventure that does dip at a couple of moments in the middle but is overall a fun and exciting ride complemented by spine-tingling music and top-notch performances. This is an absolute must-watch for any animation and/or Frozen fans.

8.7/10

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