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Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
scr Jennifer Lee
prd Peter Del Vecho
voices Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Sterling K Brown, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, Ciaran Hinds, Jeremy Sisto, Alan Tudyk
release US/UK 22.Nov.19
19/US Disney 1h43
Disney goes full-blockbuster with this sequel to their animated hit. Not only is the imagery even more impressive, but the story is hugely ambitious, allowing characters to deepen in some intriguing ways. Yes, there's still plenty of silly comedy thanks to the goofy men around the two fierce female protagonists. But it's the film's epic visual scale and deeper emotional resonance that makes it essential.
In now deliriously happy Arendelle, Princess Anna (Bell) notices something bothering her sister, Queen Elsa (Menzel). Indeed, Elsa is hearing a strange voice from an enchanted forest shrouded in a heavy mist. This is where their parents (Wood and Molina) were involved in a nasty encounter with woodland locals decades ago, so perhaps this distant song is calling Elsa to right the wrongs of history. It may also answer questions about her icy powers. So Elsa and Anna travel there, accompanied by snowman Olaf (Gad), Anna's rugged boyfriend Kristoff (Groff) and his trusty reindeer Sven.
Along the way, our heroes have adventures that push them in intriguing new directions, sometimes comically but also with some very dark emotions. Confronting a tragic past, Anna and Elsa have a lot to grapple with here, while Olaf and Kristoff thankfully lighten the tone with their adorably dopey antics, as do a continual stream of witty details in the imagery and dialog. The rendering of the four elements is particularly clever. And there's a whole new collection of engaging songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
The character animation still looks a bit doll-like, with those enormous eyes and exaggerated physiques. But technological advancements make the hair, skin and movement increasingly lifelike. Even Olaf's snowy sheen has newly delicate textures. And the water and ice are even more impressive, especially in a series of spine-tinglingly massive action set pieces. Of course, none of this would matter if the characters weren't vivid and engaging, and they all feel much more rounded this time, including some likeable new figures.
Even more importantly, the themes have a powerful resonance without ever becoming pushy. There are nods here to climate change, political deception and irrational phobias, but the story's most provocative message is about never being afraid to do what's right, even if it's terrifying to take the first step. And best of all, the story ends on such a satisfyingly conclusive note that it's impossible to imagine where they'll go next. Even the witty post-credits sting leaves us wanting more.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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