Frozen 2 is in cinemas now. But is the sequel to Frozen worth a watch? Here’s our reviewer’s verdict.
When Frozen first arrived on our screens back in 2013, it was an innovative and addictive take on traditional Disney tropes; there were two heroes and they were both girls. Sisters. Heroines. Brave, bold, super smart and one of them even had magical powers! Frustrating, maybe, that the immediately idolised sister with insta-freeze abilities was blonde, blue-eyed and significantly smaller than a size zero, but nobody could argue with the otherwise worldwide appeal of this feisty duo.
It was new-millennium girl power for the animation generation, with Frozen fandom comprising vast numbers of young girls strutting around in their turquoise glitter gowns and bellowing out ‘Let it goooooo’ with formidable force.
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And for almost a decade, Frozen’s appeal spread exponentially, sweeping up the affections of dads, boys and unsuspecting folk everywhere, while neatly coinciding with the #MeToo movement and its demands for cross-industry gender equality. (Jennifer Lee, who co-directed and co-wrote Frozen, is now creative chief of Walt Disney Animation Studios.)
In Frozen 2, our heroes return and, mercifully pair return and, mercifully, there’s still no life-saving prince or premature marriage proposal in sight. In fact, Disney’s (and the world’s!) usual obsession with unrealistically glorified nuptials is parodied in the unsuccessful proposal attempts made by Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to his beau Anna (Kristen Bell).
The main plot revolves around Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) being haunted by a siren song which lures her away from the highs of family life into the throes of a breathtaking and, at times, fearsome quest to confront supernatural forces that threaten the kingdom. The quest also doubles up as Elsa’s journey of self-discovery and while this could easily have been cheesy and unconvincing, Disney admirably whips out a sequel here that is both accomplished and inspiring.
A generous helping of wit and humour is woven throughout the script, mainly through effectively using Olaf (Josh Gad) to deliver tension-breaking one-liners, which also serve to ensure that the precious minds of younger audience members are not too overwhelmed. Kristoff’s cheesy 80s boyband-esque ballad Lost In The Woods is pure, nostalgic, laugh-out-loud brilliance, although it was completely lost on my four-year-old, who takes her Frozen very seriously and kept turning around to angrily ‘shussshhh’ suppressed giggles
Oscar winners Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez have thoughtfully produced music that is, for the most part, more hilarious and engaging this time round. Indeed, the rousing, soulful Into The Unknown – a break-out alternative to Let It Go – beautifully evokes the power of perseverance and discovery against the ravages of world-weariness.
Impressively, Disney has paid careful attention to character development and dialogue here, depicting how real women, real sisters and real friends talk to, argue with and misunderstand each other.
Elsa and Anna remain iconic emblems of female empowerment. Trailblazers in an epic fairytale, which comes of age in Frozen 2; a fairytale that isn’t pitched in sight of whirlwind romance but reaches deep into the heart of every little girl (especially those with sisters!), little boy and every grown-up who has ever struggled to be themselves or fit into this seemingly pre-packaged life.
Frozen 2 is the Frozen that carefully crafted to resonate with now; a decade on, it’s a natural, brilliant evolution that showcases Disney at it’s very best and humanity at its most powerful, and vulnerable.
Now, as a critic of many things aimed at young children and a media-wary mother of two little ones, I only wish that, as a four-year-old girl, almost four decades ago, I could have had some Frozen in my life.
Steer clear of all the imposing, linked merchandise if you can, but this Frozen 2 thing, this film – it’s gonna blow.your.minds.
Kemi J Williams
Kemi J Williams is a film critic for Stylist magazine. She thrives on analysing all things on screen from cult classics to daring dystopias. Ardent about empowering girls and women, she can also be found teaching secondary English while juggling the joys and challenges of motherhood. You can catch her latest musings on Twitter and Instagram @KemiJWilliams.