By Hollywood law, if a movie makes $1 billion, the studio responsible for such a movie MUST make a franchise out of it. Disney, being one of those who signed this law into existence, has fulfilled this requirement by drowning us with Frozen merchandise and short films until we were too poor to pay for our child's 100th Olaf doll. And Frozen II is now a thing...and we shall suffer once again. Except when we watch the movie. It's actually pretty good.
Am I being a bit too dramatic and over-the-top? Yeah I probably am. After all, Disney has ingrained Let It Go into my psyche to the point, I suppose, I've started acting like Elsa (isolating herself because she can't get over how cool she is). Or maybe I'm like Anna, making a big deal about how awful the life of a privileged princess is. ...I've over analyzed the first movie, as you can see, by how much I've watched it. And you know who else over analyzed the first movie? Disney.
If there's one thing that differentiates this movie from the first one, it's how much more complicated it is. It seems like the writers looked at the first movie and said, "You know, I wonder what the king and queen were like when they were kids? What were their favorite childhood songs? What were their parents were up to? What did the natives of the land look like? What did they fear? Are there more magical creatures than trolls? What can we do to set up 50 more movies?" That's not, necessarily, a bad move on their part. I love a good fantasy story, and Frozen II certainly delivers! It's bigger, and at times, more epic than its predecessor. This isn't about stopping a force of evil; it's a quest to right the wrongs of others and to create harmony in the world. More is at stake and the danger is greater.
The heart of the story, of course, is the bond between Anna and Elsa. They both are challenged in their own unique ways. Elsa is finding her identity in the world, whereas Anna is discovering what kind of a legacy we carry on from our forefathers. It's really deep and will most likely resonate more so with the adults. In fact, there's a song in the third act that really resonated with me, because of what was occurring in my own life. The movie's multiple messages are great teaching tools for kids, though they may not fully understand exactly what those lessons are at where they are in their lives. However, it will certainly make some adults look back on their lives and contemplate their own journeys.
The music in this film is not as memorable as its predecessor's. The original had a nostalgic charm to it as it tried to replicate the Broadway-style of the Disney movies from the 90s, but this one tries different styles and, in turn, doesn't pack near as much of a punch in the nostalgia gut. Olaf's song in particular isn't as clever as the one he had before, and sadly, the lyrics to Anna's solo are not memorable. This is disappointing because of how powerful its message is. They obviously saved the best numbers for Idina Menzel, who absolutely sings her lungs out in two big performances. It's certainly not a bad soundtrack, but I think, if given the choice, audiences will let it go in favor of the original. (Sorry, I'll stop now.)
The animation, on the other hand, deserves praise! From character's hair to the dazzling, magical lights, every inch of this movie was painstakingly crafted to make this movie as stunning as it could be. At this point, the Walt Disney Animation department is competing with Pixar to see who can make the most visually stunning movie of all time. I think Disney just took the lead with this movie. It's quite impressive! Even if you could care less about this movie and are only seeing it because your kids wanted to watch it, you can certainly admire how gorgeous each shot is.
Frozen II dares to try new things with its story, animation, and music, and most of it pays off, creating a movie that succeeds in its execution in more areas than it fails. Like the sisters' journey, this movie has some bumps, but in the end, it's a good experience. A third movie is inevitable, but you know what? I'll happily go into the unknown with these characters again. (Ok, now I'll stop.)