All kidding (sort of) aside, the 2013 Disney animation was a genuine phenomenon, spawning not just the earworm “Let It Go”, which you’ve barely gotten out of your head for the past six years, but also a merchandising powerhouse.
But none of that would’ve happened if Frozen hadn’t been a genuinely great movie. It was subversive (for a Disney movie), upending the princess conventions cemented by the House of Mouse over decades.
Here was a story where the core relationship is familial, between two sisters, and where the main character wasn’t a positive and chirpy, if not a little down on her luck, royal who had real emotional angst.
Her actions weren’t driven by a quest for love or a mythical happily ever after with singing birds and a garlanded aisle.
She was different, even relatable.
So, in this age of franchises and sequels, Frozen 2 was an inevitability, even though Disney has never released a theatrical sequel to any of its animated features.
Don’t fight it or grumble over the fact that it’s already broken box office records since its US release this past week, because it’s fine. It’s even mostly good.
Frozen 2 has dazzling visuals, a sense of adventure and discovery, some hummable songs, one hilarious parody of 1980s ballads (for the adults) and some great voice performances.
It also features a thoughtful parable about historical redress and colonialism. Um, what? Actually, before we get to that, here are the basics.
Three years after Elsa is crowned the Queen of Arendelle, change is in the air. She hears a mysterious siren call in the wind, accidentally awakening the elemental spirits which results in Arendelle’s evacuation.
Elsa and Anna remember a story their parents told them as children, about the enchanted forest north of Arendelle where King Runeard (their grandfather) once sought to connect with the indigenous tribe inside the magical land.
He built them a dam as a gift of peace but violence unexpectedly broke out between the two parties, which angered the elemental spirits inside the forest who trap everyone inside a dome of mist surrounding the forest.
The voice that’s calling Elsa is drawing her to the forest, and so she, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven head that way, hoping to discover the truth of the past, Elsa’s powers and what happened to their parents.
The past is the present in Frozen 2, imploring audiences young and old that everything has a memory. For younger viewers, that’ll probably fly straight over their heads but that’s OK, because Olaf is on hand with his slapstick goofiness – that’s guaranteed laughs for the kindy crowd.
But there is an almost radicalism in where Frozen 2 treads narratively in tying everything to what past generations have done, and what the current generation of leaders (which in this case is Elsa and Anna as the royal family of Arendelle) must do to restore balance.
I say almost radical because it doesn’t quite stick the landing, but its ambitions must be noted.
Of course, for kids, the postcolonial reading of Frozen 2 isn’t what they’re here for.
Does Elsa belt another powerhouse ballad? Yes, it’s called “Into the Unknown” and it’s catchy but not as good as “Let It Go”. Is Olaf still funny? Yes, but on that juvenile level – your kids will love him even if you continue to find him annoying.
The animation is impressive and there’s a set-piece in a magical realm beyond the seas that’s glittering.
There is probably one too many subplots it’s trying to cram in, and parents may have to do some explaining in the car home to younger fans. And a storyline involving Kristoff trying to propose to Anna would’ve been better off left out.
There’s also a structural and spatial, though not thematic, similarity to Maleficent 2 that’s kind of bizarre considering that movie came out only months earlier.
Overall, Frozen 2 doesn’t quite recapture the magic of its predecessor but it’s a perfectly serviceable follow-up.
Just be prepared to shell out for an all-new Elsa costume.
Frozen 2 is in cinemas on Thursday, November 28
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