I'm a fan of Frozen. A big fan in fact. So I was really excited to watch Frozen 2, possibly one of the most anticipated Disney sequels in recent years. Having watched the film now, I feel like it was not only one of the best Disney sequels in a while, but also one of the best Disney films ever, which is not something to be taken lightly considering how Disney has a knack for making incredible movies. In fact, I actually think Frozen 2 is a perfect Disney movie. Not necessarily a perfect movie, but a perfect Disney movie, which in my mind has its own set of criteria. So what exactly about the film makes it a perfect Disney movie?
(Mild spoilers might follow, but no major spoilers)
Disney's animated films have always been at the forefront of cinema animations. Toy Story was a remarkable display of what computer graphics could achieve back in 1995 (which was 24 years ago!), and The Lion King remake was a reminder of just how exceptional film-making animation truly is. Frozen 2 is no exception. I was blown away by how incredible the film looked. The lighting, the shading, the reflections, the fluid dynamics of water, both in large quantities like a raging ocean or as small delicate tears, watching the film was a real treat for the eyes. Simply stunning graphics and animations. I'd even go as far as saying that Frozen 2 was a much more enjoyable visual spectacle than The Lion King.
But the graphics and animation are only half the story. The other half is, well, the actual story. And we all know how good Disney is at making great stories. While Frozen takes us directly into the world of Arendelle with little to no backstory, Frozen 2 is the origin story of Elsa's powers. The story is as much about the past as it is the present and the future, and one of the lessons portrayed in the movie is about learning from the past to ensure a brighter future. The relationships between the main characters are front as centre as well, as Elsa and Anna's incredible sisterhood is again one of the main plot points of the film, as well as Anna and Kristoff's budding romance. I was particularly impressed with how there was no traditional "villain" in the film. There's no real bad guy here, which allows the story to focus entirely on the main characters and explore the lore of Frozen, uncovering some mysteries from the first film and leaving us with a few questions about how the story can progress (assuming we'll get a trilogy from Disney). The story may not be entirely perfect with an airtight plot, but when it comes to Disney films this can often be overlooked if the end product still works, and Frozen 2 works very well.
Disney has created many memorable characters over the years, and the characters in Frozen and Frozen 2 will surely be remembered for years to come. Elsa is clearly one of the most popular Disney princesses in history, not just for her bad-ass powers but also for being one of the few princesses who could lead not one, but two films without the need of a romantic partner (are there others?). A damsel in distress Elsa is definitely not. Of course we can't talk about Elsa without talking about Anna, who's love for her sister is one of the strongest forms of love we've seen in a Disney franchise. Anna actually plays a significant role in this film too, just to prove that you don't need powers to save the day. Then we have Kristoff (and Sven), who has a much more prominent role in the sequel than in the first. Kristen Bell said in an interview that one of her favourite lines in Frozen 2 actually came from Kristoff, in a scene where he rescues Anna after being separated for a while and instead of being a white knight and telling Anna to step aside, he shows her his full support by saying "I'm here, what do you need?". Last but not least, Olaf. He is genuinely one of the funniest characters Disney has created in a long time, and he has some memorable scenes in this film which will no doubt make him one of the most popular Disney characters for a long time. Individually, each character is great in their own way, but together they form a team of characters that make the movie (and the franchise) one of the most beloved in Disney history.
I don't think I've ever been excited about the music when going to the cinema to watch a movie, but thanks to Let It Go I was actually excited to watch Frozen 2 partly because I was expecting some great music. And I wasn't disappointed. The music in the film was amazing, starting with a very melancholic lullaby sang by the sisters' mother, and Anna has a very emotional ballad towards the end too. It's not just the music, some of the songs were supported by some stunning visuals and animations as well, particularly both of Elsa's songs (yes, she has two songs!) and Kristoff's song (he gets one too!). I've been listening to the songs on repeat for the past couple of days, and I know I'm not the only one.
It wouldn't be a Disney movie without a little magic, and Frozen 2 has an ample amount of magic in the story. Quite literally. But that's not the magic I'm talking about. I'm not talking about Elsa's magic per se, although it does play a significant role in this point I'm trying to make. Disney's magic is something that's a little harder to describe, it's not so much something tangible, but something you can feel, and it's something that the company has perfected over generations of films. The feeling I got while watching this film, absorbing everything together, the animation, the story, the characters, the music, all of it, leads to a magical experience that only a really good Disney movie can provide. The pinnacle of this magical experience for me was during Elsa's second song towards the end of the movie. The song was incredible, for me the best song of the film, the animation in the background was literally magical, and it just made me think to myself "now this is a Disney movie".
Frozen may not be everyone's cup of tea, and some people might feel like the first movie was still better, and that's ok. For me though, Frozen 2 will be sitting high on my list of best Disney movies of all time, and I don't think anything else will come close for quite some time.