Frozen 2, released nationwide tomorrow, cert PG, ****
IN 2013, three little words had an unexpected effect when Frozen became the biggest selling animation of all time.
Let It Go became the stuff of nightmares for many as it was played on a constant loop by radio stations and blasted out in every karaoke joint in the nation. But for others, it was the perfect song.
It wasn’t just the song that had audiences flocking to see the film. The story of Elsa and Anna wasn’t just a magical one, it was a feminist one. It told us that princesses don’t need to be saved by princes, even if they did get side-tracked along the way by a handsome lad.
It was the girls who saved each other — and that idea carries right on into the sequel which opens this week.
Elsa (Idina Menzel) is reigning queen in Arendelle and while her people may have adjusted to her magical, icy ways, Elsa doesn’t fully feel like she fits in. Something is calling her. Literally. She hears a siren’s call that unsettles her.
Anna (Kirsten Bell) is blissfully unaware of her sister’s distress. She is as happy as she ever was, spending time with her beloved best-snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad), her boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Sven the reindeer.
Poor Kristoff wants to marry Anna, but every proposal attempt is thwarted by miscommunication.
When the siren’s call becomes too much, Elsa tries to communicate with it from afar but she accidentally wakes something up. That something attacks Arendelle and the inhabitants are forced to flee to higher ground where the wee troll people live.
The trolls promise to protect Elsa’s people while she travels to dangerous lands to find the source of the call on the wind. She wants to go it alone, but after everything that happened in the first film, there is no way that Anna is going to let Elsa leave on a solo mission.
Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven join the sisters as they make their way to an enchanted forest. We heard about the forest at the start of the film in a series of flashbacks.
Long before the girls were born, their grandfather made a pact with the people of the enchanted forest. During a peaceful gathering, a fight broke out. Grandfather died and the girl’s father, then just a boy, was the only survivor of the battle. A spirit saved the child and returned him to Arendelle.
Since that day, the forest has been covered in mist. No-one has been able to enter it, only those with power can. Luckily, Elsa’s magic allows them to get into the forest, but will they ever get out?
Once they are in the forest, they meet some unexpected friends and some potential foes. The group is separated from each other and poor Olaf, lost and afraid, gets a fantastic solo number about his fear of growing up and how life will make sense when he is older. If only he knew things get more confusing!
Kristoff, too, gets his first solo, a wonderfully funny nod to 1980s power ballads.
As the human and the snowman try to find a way to help, Elsa decides she has to carry out part of the journey alone. Learning nothing from the last film, she ditches Anna in a bid to solve the riddle of the siren which has the potential to destroy everything, not just the forest but Arendelle as well. As the sisters separate, they both hit the high notes with this film’s Let It Go, but can they sing their way to safety and will Elsa ever find a way to quieten down the little voice inside her head that says she doesn’t belong?
With an awareness that original Frozen fans are now six years older, this film takes our characters on a much darker journey. It is full of questioning, a mini existential crises and is perfect for its target audience as they find their feet in the early teenage years. Yet, what struck me was the number of adults, this one included, who found themselves in tears as Elsa bravely heads into the unknown as she struggles to find her way in life.
Visually stunning, it brings the audience on an emotional rollercoaster bursting with heart, joy, and excitement. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to build a snowman!