‘Frozen II’ proves some sequels are worth the wait

It’s crazy to think that it’s been six years sine “Frozen” was released. Mostly because it never left our conscience with merchandise like toys, pillows and blankets lining Walmart end caps since the film was released.

I will always remember the original because I took my then 1-year-old to watch it, and after the 10 minutes of upcoming movie trailers and then the nearly 10 minute short film, by the time the animated film actually started she had fallen asleep in my lap, and I was stuck watching it by myself.

Luckily, that didn’t happen this time around.

“Frozen II” explores the origins of Elsa’s ice powers which comes from a surprising place that I won’t spoil here.

The film kicks off with sister Anna and Elsa playing as children as they interact with their parents. This is where we hear the first new song  – a lullaby – that tells a story of another group of people who used to live in Arendelle. They lived in peace within the kingdom until the king, the sisters’ grandfather, ‘tried to help them out’ and instead caused a war, shrouding the forest area in a thick blanket of impenetrable mist and trapping a batch of Arendelle soldiers as well as the people group who called it their home.

We also get quite a bit of backstory on the sisters’ parents, which was surprising and ends up playing a major part in the animated film.

It’s hard to tell more about the plot without giving anything away, so that’s all you’ll get.

“Frozen II” seems to up the ante quite a bit from the first one. The filmmakers’ attempt to make it more epic and sprawling as they enter parts of Arendelle not only are never mentioned but never seen, and it works. But it’s also not simply shoved into the story to create a new tale. The backstory of the unexplored area of the kingdom makes sense in the end and feels like an organic part of the greater, grander tale.

It was also great to see how far the animation has come in the six years since the original. 

Having recently watched “Frozen” with my kiddos, the computer generated film still seemed perfectly animated and extremely detailed. While everything pretty much looks the same from a glance, it’s when we get close-ups of the characters that we really see how far the technology has come. And even though the character designs have essentially stayed the same, the characters themselves have seem to have gotten a bit older and their body frames a little more realistic.

And when we get a look at the raging ocean, it’s hard to tell that it’s not real.

The original cast of characters are back with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven taking the lead. The only member of the original crew that doesn’t  seem to fit in this time around is snowman Olaf. He feels placed throughout the film to simply sell more plush toys and never really does anything but spout one-liners at random times and fall apart for comic relief.

Then, there are the songs.

Ok, look, the songs were the hardest part to wrap my head around, not because they’re bad. They’re great. But after six years of hearing kids, and adults, from around the world in real life and on YouTube singing renditions of the beloved original’s tunes, it’s a little jarring hearing new songs from Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf.

As I mentioned, none of them are bad; they’re just new. 

Most viewers will be able to tell which ones are meant to be the new crop of hits with Elsa belting out a “Let it Go”-type track titled “Into the Unknown” as well as the feel-good song “Some Things Never Change”.

The one song that stood out for me was ”Lost in the Woods”, an ’80s soft rock ballad sung by Kristoff that is one part hilarious and one part heartfelt. It’s even shown like an ’80s-styled music video which was a nice change of pace for a animation stuck in high adventure gear.

Overall, there’s no way this movie could’ve turned out bad. The group of screenwriters, songwriters and filmmakers wouldn’t have let that happen to this billion dollar property. It has everything you’d expect from a “Frozen” sequel – an incredible story, adventure, good songs and laughs – without repeating the formula that made the original such an instant classic.

The only issue some fans may have with “Frozen II” is that they are still hardcore fans of the original and simply can’t “Let it Go.”

“Frozen II” is currently playing in theaters.