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Frozen II

"Disney's double-down on magic and power ballads will melt your heart"

★★★★ - STUFF 

- Even six years after its debut, the love for Frozen in my household is yet to melt away.

Disney's tale of two princesses delivered a potent mix of thrilling adventure, tear-inducing emotion, memorable characters and toe-tapping tunes that prompted a heartfelt four-word from the then three-year-old youngest member of our quartet: "I love that movie."

Since then, we've thrashed the soundtrack, held the themed birthday party, acquired the beach towel and watched the breathtaking mini-musical at California Adventure Land.

However, tempering expectations of this long-awaited sequel is Disney's rather terrible track record at recreating an original animated movie's magic. The Jungle BookAladdinBambi and, um, The Hunchback of Notre Dame all spawned further adventures that fully deserved their direct-to-DVD status. 

So I'm glad to report that, while it doesn't quite reach the heights of the first tale, Frozen 2 is a fabulous follow-up that both children and their caregivers should warmly embrace. I do temper this with a parental warning, that does mean another round of merch and music. There's a new character who has the potential to rival The Mandalorian's "Baby Yoda" for t-shirt ubiquity this summer and Elsa has not one, but two power ballads this time (Into the Unknown and Show Yourself).

When the film opens, all is well in Arendelle. Anna is happy being surrounded by family and friends, Olaf is loving his personal permafrost and Kristoff's only concern is plucking up the courage to ask Anna to marry him. But, despite putting on a brave public face, Queen Elsa is restless. Her nagging doubts about her powers persist and she's begun to hear a siren song, seemingly from a distant land to the north, "who knows, deep down, I'm not where I'm supposed to be".

Then comes a night of terror. Arendelle is struck not only by earth, wind and fire, but also flooding, leaving the kingdom's residents fearing for their lives. Enter the trolls, who inform the Queen that while "angry magical spirits are not for the faint of heart", that a "wrong demands to be righted" and that Arendelle has no future without such a resolution.

What follows is another rollicking rollercoaster of a story filled with peril, laugh-out-loud moments and takeaways that this time include "doing the next right thing" and being prepared to make up for the sins of previous generations (a theme that will likely resonate with followers of Greta Thunberg). 

While Elsa (via Idina Menzel) gets to hit those high notes again, it's actually Kristen Bell's Anna and Jonathan Groff's Kristoff whose songs stay with you. Anna's The Next Right Thing is a haunting, but empowering tune, while Kristoff's Lost in the Woods lament will be a true delight for any fans of 1980s power ballads. He also delivers perhaps the most telling (especially in a time when the world is obsessed with toxic masculinity) line of the movie: "My love is not fragile."

The visuals are once again top-notch, while the addition of the likes of Westworld's Evan Rachel Wood, This is Us' Sterling K. Brown and Mr Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter, to the vocal cast are also welcome. 

I did find it interesting that the opening bore a strong resemblance to the faux plot of the last Marvel movie and that the overall theme is about a young woman bringing balance to the "force", sorry kingdom, however, perhaps that just reflects the ubiquity of the Mouse House in 2019 pop-culture.

In the end, after a year of so many reboot and reimagining disappointments, Frozen 2 is a wonderful and welcome exception.

- James Croot, STUFF

Frozen 2 is now playing at Light House Cinema!


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