Disney’s Frozen II is facing a hard slog with this particular critic: I’m not a great fan of fantasy/quest stories, power ballads don’t really float my boat, and sequels are rarely much cop. But, being firmly of the opinion that opinions can and should change, I’m determined to approach it with an open mind. After all, there are great tales in every genre. In the end, if it’s done well, I’m happy.
2013’s original Frozen is a case in point. Despite myself, I liked it. A lot. Of course, this second outing can’t benefit from the freshness of the idea, and is bound to suffer – to some extent – from trying to replicate the original’s huge success. You can almost hear the songwriters’ straining for this year’s Let It Go.
It’s three years after Elsa’s coronation, and everyone in Arendelle is enjoying Autumn. But then Queen Elsa hears a mysterious voice calling to her, and feels compelled to follow it. But her sister, Anna, won’t let her go alone, so – quelle surprise – they are accompanied by Christoph (Anna’s boyfriend), Sven (Christoph’s reindeer) and Olaf (the chirpy snowman). The voice leads them to the enchanted forest where, years ago, the women’s grandfather was killed. Elsa’s mission, it turns out, is twofold: to heal the rift between the Northuldra tribe and the soldiers of Arendelle, all trapped together in the forest since the fatal fight; and to appease the elemental spirits angered by human folly.
The songs, sadly, are all so-so ballads, with little to distinguish them, and none as memorable as Let It Go; more variety would really perk things up. Olaf’s constant joking is less adorable in this outing; I find myself wishing he’d shut up. And honestly, I’ve no idea why Anna and Elsa wear dresses, high heels and full make-up for hiking in the hills.
Still, the animation is glorious: the water horse (or Nokk) and the earth giants are particularly impressive. The plot is convoluted and a bit silly, but it skips along nicely and holds my attention.
The verdict: Frozen II is… lukewarm.