Frozen was a huge hit for Disney back in 2013, it was one of the first films starring a Disney Princess that didn’t focus on her relationship with a man, but was instead about the sisterly relationship at the heart of the film. It also didn’t hurt that ‘Let It Go’ was a smash hit (you can see where it ranked in my Top 30 Disney Songs here). So a sequel was always a likely move for Disney, but given that much of the audience would have aged up with the film it was interesting to see how writers and directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee handled this.
Their method was to make Frozen II a film more aimed at that slightly older audience, knowing that younger kids would probably still flock to see it anyway. This allowed the film to tackle some more interesting and rich character journeys rather than story or narrative. Whilst there is still peril to the kingdom of Arendelle this film is far more about Elsa and Anna truly finding themselves and where they belong in the world.
It is clear from early on that Anna wants absolutely everything to remain as it is, and has some dependency issues with Elsa now that they are finally close again. Meanwhile Elsa still doesn’t quite fit at Arendelle, despite the kingdom’s acceptance of her and her powers. It is great to see a film aimed at children diving into their characters and using that to tell interesting stories.
Sadly the film does fall down narratively. Not because it focuses far less of that, but more due to just recycling some aspects from the original film. In particular there is one big moment towards the end of the film that lacks any really emotional weight because we had seen a similar enough scene in the first one, and so it was always unlikely that the film was going to have the courage to maintain the consequences of that in the sequel.
The other aspect that many will find doesn’t live up to the original is the music. The songs in Frozen, spearheaded by ‘Let It Go’ are insanely popular and very catchy. And the new batch of songs that Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez have produced are unlikely to connect with a mass audience anywhere near as widely as ‘Let It Go’ did. That said, I enjoyed most of the music more than a lot of the songs from the first Frozen, without any hitting the heights of a couple of the songs. So instead of one or two classics we have instead got a set of songs that are more consistently good across the board. This probably won’t connect with people as much as a hit like ‘Let It Go’ did, so most won’t celebrate the music as strongly.
On the whole however Frozen II manages to be a strong sequel to a Disney animated film, and that is something of a rarity. It is only the fourth sequel in out of the 58 Disney Animated Classics that have been released and the majority of their sequels were straight to video affairs. Frozen II however is significantly better than that, and should please fans of the original who want to dig deeper into the core characters.