Walt Disney Animation Studios came to break the icy box office spell this weekend with the release of the highly anticipated sequel “Frozen II” on Nov. 22.
With its record-breaking opening of $127 million, it is clear there has been pent-up anticipation for the people of Arendelle and their antics. “Let It Go” has still yet to fade from our memories, or gotten out of our heads, and it suffices to say I was ready for some fresh tunes and a fresh story.
With “Frozen II,” that’s exactly what we got.
Six years after the release of the original in 2013, which won two Oscars and is the highest grossing animated picture of all time, the sequel returns to give most audiences what they were looking for: a well told, funny and visually dazzling new adventure featuring some of our favorite characters.
The story is set three years after Elsa’s coronation in the last film. It follows her and Anna’s quest into the mystical forest beyond the kingdom as they endeavor to uncover the truth behind their family and Elsa’s powers.
The film has been positively received, if not as unanimously embraced as the first film. It stands at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the first, which received a 90%. After watching the film, its optimistic-but-not-ecstatic reception makes sense.
The film is the definition of “pretty good.”
It has everything you would want in a follow-up to a universally embraced blockbuster. The animation is top notch – I mean, the water sequences gave me goosebumps. It has the songs – all of which are pleasant, and some of which seem almost suitable to fill the shoes of Elsa’s inescapable power ballad, which, let’s admit, hasn’t aged as well for some of us as it has for others. The film also has pretty much everything that made the first film so fun: the adorable jokes from Olaf; cute interactions between Anna and the lovably gentle Kristoff; and Elsa herself, who serves us with both some powerhouse vocals and rocking outfits.
The movie’s premise is well conceived, interesting and creative, if a little overly complicated. The screenwriters work hard to set up some compelling mythology at the onset of the film to set up the premise for the upcoming conflict. While, for the most part, it’s done well and pays off by the end, the sheer amount of exposition can be grating.
The movie starts off a little slow, with an Arendelle-based song between Olaf and Anna that isn’t exactly miraculous. This delayed start to the story at hand was slightly puzzling and a little bit troubling. Fortunately, after the plot kicks in and Elsa has her first belt-out song, the story really picks up its pace.
The film’s momentum hardly slows down after this, culminating in a tense climax and powerful conclusion. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the movie, initiated in the previous installment, is its treatment of the relationship between sisters Elsa and Anna. Here, that narrative is continued as they explore the boundaries of sisterly love and their commitments to the good of their kingdom.
Elsa’s story takes a dramatic turn here, one that might prove divisive to some. Disney has long teased fans with hints of LGBTQ representation when it comes to her character, and while I liked what they’ve chosen to do here, it will be interesting to see how many fans agree.
Ultimately, “Frozen II” is a largely enjoyable follow up to the largely enjoyable first film. Aside from some knock-out action sequences and truly iconic animation, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary here. However, for fans that have been waiting half a decade for a new adventure in this world, there is no reason not to dive “Into the Unknown.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Traveler Score: B+