It’s not an exaggeration to say that 2013’s Frozen was an animated touchstone for a generation – the stunning visuals, memorable songs and timeless story (loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen) captured the hearts of kids (and more than a few parents, too).
It comes as no shock, then, that Disney chose to make a sequel to their hugely successful princess story, but what is a surprise is the darker tone that Frozen II has – making it more appealing to children who are six years older and wiser than when they fell in love with the first movie, rather than a new generation of little ones who will find the twisting plot may be a bit too grown up and complex.
Beginning with an opening flashback of Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) being told about an enchanted forest by their father King Agnarr (Molina), the film quickly catches up with the grown up sisters following the events of the original movie in the kingdom of Arendelle. Kristoff (Groff) is planning to propose to Anna but she is distracted by her sister’s distress – Elsa has been hearing a voice calling her and she believes it may hold the answer to the question of where her icy powers originally came from.
So Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven the reindeer and Olaf the snowman (Gad) head off towards the enchanted forest to seek out the voice and find the truth, but their journey reveals far more about their past, and the history of Arendelle, than they could have imagined.
An animated movie that touches on royal politics and the sins of the past may puzzle little ones hoping for a reprise of ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’, (and no, there isn’t one, sorry) but there is plenty for older kids and grown-ups to enjoy. Elsa and Anna’s bond is built upon and becomes central to the action, and while Kristoff gets somewhat left behind – literally, on more than one occasion – he does get a faux-80s soft rock number (Lost In The Woods), complete with naff music video, that will have adults chortling.
The darker moments are often magical, too, from Elsa’s taming of a water horse to her battle to cross the black seas to reach the voice that is calling her, and directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also beautifully deliver a really sad scene in the movie that will melt even the hardest of hearts.
Of course, with Olaf around, there are some funny parts – most notably his sped-up retelling of the Frozen plot to the inhabitants of the forest, and a fun musical number about not being afraid (When I Am Older) as he walks around oblivious to numerous threats taking place around him. There’s also a cute new character, the return of the cuddly trolls and some nods to the first movie that will hopefully distract younger viewers from the bleaker bits.
While there may not be a stop-you-in-your-tracks song like Let It Go in the sequel (the closest contender is Into The Unknown), there are some enjoyable musical numbers, and it doesn’t need to be said that, like the first movie, the animation is breathtaking, whether focusing on the water droplets absorbed by wooden ship’s floor or the autumnal red leaves weaving through the forest.
This may not enchant the littlest of children looking for something more joyous and fun, but fans of the original won’t be disappointed with this smart, stunning-to-look-at sequel.
Is Frozen II suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is darker than the first Frozen movie, and very young children may be a little scared when Anna and her friends first venture into the enchanted forest and she battles a great fire.
There are giant earth creatures but they are not very frightening.
MAJOR SPOILER – young children may be very upset when a major character evaporates but they do return later.
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