Ice still nice as sequel retains charm of original

The cast of Frozen voiced by Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff (IMDB/Disney)

Despite early wobbles, Frozen II easily lives up to the high bar set by its record-breaking, Oscar-winning predecessor, with a winning cast, solid jokes, stunningly realised animation and catchy new earworms. Source: ACOFB.

Jennifer Lee’s screenplay opens with the heroes from Frozen comfortably settled into the roles in which we left them. Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) is performing her royal duties. Elsa’s sister Ana (Kristen Bell) and her beau Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are enjoying a slow but steady courtship, though Kristoff is thinking about taking things to the next level. Their snowman sidekick Olaf (Josh Gad), magically brought to life by Elsa’s powers in the last film, is confronting the mysteries that accompany his burgeoning maturity, while Kristoff’s trusty reindeer Sven is never far from his side.

But every tale needs a complication and boy does this story, credited to Lee and an additional four writers, pull together a needlessly complicated one! Elsa begins to hear an ethereal voice calling from the wild, one that no one else can hear.

In a prologue that revisits Elsa and Ana’s childhood, we hear a bedtime story told to the girls by their father (Alfred Molina), who recounts his first royal visit as a young prince. Travelling with his father, King Runeard, and their entourage into the Enchanted Forest to strike a treaty with the native Northuldra people, the prince is endangered when a scuffle suddenly erupts, only to be rescued by an unidentified figure. Now, all these years later, Elsa is convinced that her secret caller is somehow linked to her late father’s saviour.

Despite her fervent desire to answer the call, Elsa stifles her natural curiosity to focus on leading her people, until a seemingly supernatural attack, drawing on the elements of wind, fire, earth and water, puts their town of Arendelle at risk.

Linking her phantom voice with this worrying development, Elsa resolves to journey into the Enchanted Forest to find the voice, but Ana, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven insist on accompanying her on what seems likely to be a dangerous adventure.

As it should be clear by now, the setup required to get the gang on the road for another adventure is bizarrely convoluted. However, after the lore-dense opening half hour, Frozen II clicks into gear and starts to both have fun and tap into an old emotional vein that still bears rich material: the sisterly bond between Elsa and Ana.

Reviewed by Callum Ryan, ACOFB.

Frozen II: Voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff. Directed by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. 103 minutes. Rated PG (Some scenes may scare younger children).

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Frozen II (ACOFB)

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