Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
Frozen 2 finally arrives following up on the 2013 film with a sequel that is probably considered by many as well overdue. Frozen was always going to be a hard act to follow, the cultural impact of that first film was unexpected at the time and has only grown since. However the new film sees the return of both Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee to direct, along with Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel as the leads.
In this latest adventure the writers endeavor to deepen the mythology that was introduced in the original, re-discovering the history to these characters and fleshing out new details and story ideas to be explored. To the film’s credit these new details are blended seamlessly into the story that we already know, there’s clearly been a lot of thought into inserting new elements in a way the complements the franchise rather than being at odds with anything that’s come before. It makes for a strong opening act where there’s a quick reintroduction to the setting of Arendelle, picking up after the conclusion of the first film before historical events catch up with our main characters.
Once this happens the film shifts gears quickly as Anna and Elsa embark once again on a quest to save the future of their kingdom. Thematically Frozen 2 is an ambitious undertaking, and probably seeks to address more real world issues than what it has the capacity to do. Several new characters are introduced, along with an exploration of issues to do with native communities and colonial societies seeking to achieve peaceful balance and understanding while weaving this with character driven story arcs, and spiritual undertones for many of the new locations and environments.
These sub-plots, social commentary and exposition sum up to a hefty burden for the film and it struggles to find a meaningful balance while delivering a well-paced story with this more mature take on the characters. With so many new ingredients to this film, a significant number of them are under-developed on screen and serve as little more than simple and relatively forgettable plot devices that just help to keep things moving.
It ultimately results in a film that spends more time raising interesting ideas than exploring them in any meaningful or satisfying way, but for the most part Frozen 2 stays on the right side of prioritizing Anna and Elsa’s story (and to a lesser degree Olaf’s) above everything else and in that respect it delivers a satisfying adventure.
Visually it’s a stunning film, and it broadens the scope of its story to become an enjoyable fantasy driven journey, elevating the series into a grander setting ripe for more adventures of high fantasy. The animation is crisp, and a joy to watch and while the music might not be an instant hit for audiences it felt enjoyable enough that with time and familiarity the appreciation for it will grow.
Despite a more mature and darker story there remains plenty of humor and dialogue that’s targeting both adult and younger audiences, and the returning cast members pickup exactly where they left off in terms of bringing life to these characters.
Now that this sequel is out in the world, and the setting encompasses such a fertile basis for future stories it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a complete Frozen trilogy in just a few more years’ time. For now however, Frozen 2 is here and it’s an adventure that is going to entertain and delight the masses, you can catch it in Australian cinemas from 28 November 2019, I’m giving it 7 out of 10.