6 years later and here we finally are – I must preface this review with a statement before we get into it. It’s not common for a studio to wait 6 years before releasing a sequel to a smash hit – in many ways this shows that the creators are not rushing to make a quick buck, but rather, considering best how to approach the project. Many of the kids who were once smitten with the first film are older now and with that many may be disinterested in this sequel. With that said, let’s get into this.
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck Frozen II continues the story of Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff as they embark on a mysterious journey to uncover all their unanswered questions. Throughout this narrative we’re sent spellbound on a journey beyond the confines of the kingdom of Arendelle – to mystical lands that hold memories and secrets waiting to be unthawed.
Frozen II isn’t just a worthy continuation, it’s a necessary second chapter that allows audiences to actually form true compassion for its characters. What felt like relatively two-dimensional characters now feel much more fully realised. Anna no longer represents the embodiment of pure confidence and goofiness – now she holds insecurities, fears, and genuine turmoil for her future. Elsa is more confident in herself, steadfast in her abilities, and has a burning curiosity. More than anything, these characters feel more refined and finally worthy of being regarded with some of the hype they’ve garnered over the past 6 years.
This film isn’t just a more mature story than its predecessor – it’s doing something a little more profound – it’s becoming similar to the older Disney or modern Pixar films – exceeding even Big Hero 6 with emotionality. So much so that I’d be open to the idea of the Frozen films to age with their audience, building toward a trilogy much like Toy Story did. That being said, it is undeniable that Frozen II borrows the same structure as it has in its first film – Elsa disappears, Anna goes looking for her, and their sisterly bond is key to it all. Where this film differs is really just in its themes, world-building, and character development; which is ultimately what this film primarily needed.
Frozen II is also supported by some industry-leading animation that cleverly uses its colour to bolster its impressive imagery as it explores creative new environments that expand its world. There is an attention to detail which is stronger than the original film and the lighting in this film is absolutely superb, setting up some amazing shots. As the film expands the lore of its universe, it creates imaginative set-pieces that it uses to showcase how far animation has come this year.
The film captures a sense of seasonal change from the original film as it keeps its icy touch while utilising autumnal colours. As the film further goes deeper narratively, it explores an expanding array of environments that challenge the characters and have an effect on the narrative. From sprawling aspen forests, expansive tundras, treacherous rocky fjords, and deep caverns. The environments throughout the Frozen films aren’t only for visual splendor – they also reflect the emotional state of each character. Whether they’re embracing self-isolation or trapped deep within a dark hole – the environments hold potent relevance to each characters journey, literal and emotional.
The first Frozen film had a powerhouse of a soundtrack and it would be silly to expect the sequel to garner the same reception, Frozen II may not be as catchy as its successful predecessor but the effect of its music has the same result. The songs are written in a way that allows the thematics of the film flow through the characters as they go about their journeys.
While not perfectly polished or completely narratively coherent – Frozen II adds what it was missing from its first installment – character development, world building, and a deeper understanding of the worlds magic and lore. This may be Disney’s first real step toward recreating the quality of their Renaissance. Frozen II does the miraculous job of feeling feature-complete with just a sequel – closing off its story and characters with the same energy as a movie trilogy usually would.