Review: 'Frozen II' chillier than original, but leaves an imprint
Disney sequel wants you to leave singing 'Into the Unknown,' but it won't replace 'Let It Go' in your head
The smash success of 2013's "Frozen" came as a surprise to everyone. That includes Disney execs, who clearly hadn't mapped out a road for the story to continue.
But that has never stopped a franchise from barreling ahead before, especially one that collected more than $1 billion the first time around. So here comes "Frozen II," less coherent and less fun than the original, but with just enough of a dusting of "Frozen's" magic to appease the superfans looking for another reason to sing "Let It Go" (or "Frozen II's" answer to "Let It Go," "Into the Unknown").
"Frozen II" reunites the voice cast of the original — Idina Menzel as Elsa, Kristen Bell as her sister Anna, Jonathan Groff as Anna's boyfriend Kristoff and Josh Gad as Olaf the magical snowman — and places them in a new adventure. (You can practically hear the boardroom pitch unfolding.) It seems that beyond the castle there's an enchanted forest (isn't that always the case?) where Elsa and Anna's ancestors once clashed with the indigenous people, the Northuldra tribe, and this forest is now everybody's top priority.
At the same time, Elsa is hearing a siren call emanating from that very forest. As she follows it — yep, "Into the Unknown" — new secrets are revealed, new dangers are uncovered and new songs are belted through the treetops.
Those songs, from the Oscar-winning duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, are catchy enough; "Into the Unknown" is the standout, and Kristoff's "Lost in the Woods" is the goofiest, meant to send up 1980s soft rock cheese a la Air Supply. If they're lacking in true firepower, the same goes for "Frozen II": it never reaches the heights of its predecessor, but it's an adequate romp in the snow.
Rated PG: for action/peril and some thematic elements
Running time: 104 minutes