It's safe to say that when Disney introduced us to Anna and Elsa in the first Frozen film, they'd struck gold. With a superb soundtrack, surprising plot, and instantly iconic heroes, we were given another instant classic to add to Disney's already-packed collection, which is why anticipation was so high going into Frozen II.
We'll say right now that we don't believe the second topped the first, but that's far from saying it did the series an injustice. It goes in bold new directions, firstly, adopting an autumnal feel and leaving the tundra behind, taking us to a mysterious forest to encounter a voice that's calling to Elsa and threatening the entirety of Arendelle.
This is a welcome change of pace and leaves Frozen II looking a lot different from the first visually, especially in terms of the colour palette. The whites and blues make way for oranges and reds, although there are still plenty of icy moments to go around, given Elsa's power. In fact, it's a beautiful looking film in general, with the shimmering fjord and awesome landscapes showing how far animation has come in recent years.
All of the returning characters are back, however, the new additions to the cast don't bring much to the table. We meet the natives of the forest, reminding us a little of Moana as Elsa and Anna talk about their customs and way of life, as well as some old faces of Arendelle, but none of them stands out. This is still very much a journey for the female protagonists, and even Kristoff feels left out of the plot for the most part.
What's perhaps most refreshing is that they are all flawed characters, making them instantly more believable. Each has their hubris and must rely on the others for support, and there's not just one hero that can save the land from destruction, but a group effort including of course the always-lovable Olaf, who produces the funniest moments in the film once again.
What would a Frozen film be without the songs though? There are some standouts here, like Idina Menzel's Into the Unknown and Kristoff's tribute to '80s ballads and bands like Queen. There seem to be too many fillers here though, and what is there doesn't come close to being as memorable as the first, sadly.
The story takes us to some nice new places as well, and we didn't feel like it was a rehash of the first one. There are even a fair few surprises in there, many of which link back to the heritage of Anna and Elsa and the history of the kingdom.
In taking the series in a totally new direction Frozen II manages to stand on its own two feet, but in such a giant shadow as the first, it was always going to struggle to fill the shoes it had created for itself. Don't let its shortcomings deter you from seeing this though, as this is a worthwhile entry in the Frozen universe with some exciting stories to tell.
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