Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
A Frozen veteran, now 13, guides a novice through the sequel to the Disney mega-hit.
Yes, the first Frozen is really very good – gutsier and more operatic in its story than I’d thought a Disney double-princess movie would be, and pleasingly Pixar-esque in its humour and characters. Quite how it had become, until this year’s Lion King remake, the biggest animated movie of all time was a little hard to fathom.
But clearly, its combination of girl-power, classic fairy tale, snowy landscapes, one snowy character (Olaf) and Broadway belters had hit the spot. I was prepared, even if seeing Frozen 2 so soon after probably risked snowblindness and damage to the higher frequencies of one’s hearing.
But here I was at a weekend preview. As the lights went down, the entire cinema of little blue princesses wriggled with joy.
I was not alone in this vortex of Elsa-mania. I had brought in a consultant – Eloise, the daughter of one of those dad-mates who was happy to tag along and represent the target market. She’d seen the first movie a fair few times since it first came out when she was seven. Now aged 13, yes, she did wonder if a sequel might feel a bit young to her.
Me, I wondered other things, such as would there be another Let It Go? Not quite, but Into the Unknown is a valiant attempt at a ballistic mega-ballad, though the other songs are less memorable. And, after all, living happily ever after in the first, what’s there to do? Plenty, apparently – a whole ecological spirit-of-the-forest thing to sort out up north, complete with gentle commentary on the real-world treatment of the indigenous Scandinavian Sami people. And, following all that magical ice sculpture in the first, could the animation still surprise? Yes, especially when Elsa heads to sea.
But for all that, the story of Frozen 2 felt a little unmoored, its big quest occasionally confusing and convoluted.
The film finished. The little blue princesses wriggled some more and clapped.Eloise thought it was good, still okay for her age group, but deserved maybe a star less than the first because it didn’t quite hit the same spots, and its big theme – everything changes, especially as you grow up – was hammered home to the point of tedium. She didn’t like how much make-up the animators made Elsa wear, either. We agreed that the film lost energy when the main characters were all doing their own thing. But, yes, Olaf, the goofy snowman sidekick, is hilarious, especially when he summed up the entire first movie in a brilliant 10-second recap. That a sequel’s best gag is a refresher of the previous film might indicate a problem. But for folks who haven’t seen the original – I mean, what rock have they been living under? – it’s very considerate.
IN CINEMAS NOW
This article was first published in the December 7, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.