Cool adventure: Despite its flimsy plot, Frozen II largely delivers
Elsa the Snow Queen and her sister Anna embark on an dangerous but remarkable adventure far away from the kingdom of Arendelle. They are joined by friends, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, writes Damon Smith
ACCORDING to lovable snowman Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), who is a permafrosted font of wisdom about the natural world, water has memory.
Considering that audiences who flocked to the original Frozen are largely made of water, it's safe to assume that their memories of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's Oscar-winning adventure will ebb and flow throughout this visually stunning sequel to the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
Water and the other classical elements – air, earth and fire – play pivotal roles in Frozen II.
The realistic movement of aqua has always been a chink in the armour of computer animators. Not so here.
Disney's platoons of digital wizards repeatedly quench our thirst with jaw-dropping set pieces including a thrilling gallop over crashing waves of an angry sea astride an untamed water horse.
We've had six years to commit to memory every note, key change and lyrical flip of Do You Want To Build A Snowman?, For The First Time In Forever, Love Is An Open Door and Let It Go.
It would be churlish to expect returning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez to ride the crest of those sound waves again on a first listen.
In the sequel, Elsa's call to arms Into The Unknown soars to dizzying high notes and Kristoff's faux 1990s rock ballad Lost In The Woods is a hoot, replete with four-legged backing singers.
Anna's solo The Next Right Thing is a beautifully melancholic distillation of grief.
Three years have passed since Elsa (Idina Menzel) ascended the throne of Arendelle.
An ethereal voice from the enchanted forest beckons her to unlock the secret of a bedtime story told to Elsa and sister Anna (Kristen Bell) by their parents, King Agarr (Alfred Molina) and Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood).
"The truth must be found. Without it, there is no future," confirms troll king Grand Pabbie (Ciaran Hinds).
Thus, Elsa, Anna and her goofy beau Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), reindeer Sven and Olaf journey to an ancient stone circle shrouded in swirling mist, which designates a hidden pathway to the supposedly lost Northuldra tribe.
Frozen II dilutes a conventional quest storyline to wring out the running time to 103 minutes.
Inveterate scene-stealer Olaf hysterically recaps the first film in the sequel's crowd-pleasing showpiece and finds a perfect match for his gosh-darn cuteness in a blue salamander sidekick.
While the first film encouraged characters to let go of things that hurt or hinder – fear, self-doubt, regret, the past – Buck and Lee's follow-up dives deeper into their tearful self-reflection.
Menzel and Bell gently tug heartstrings as sisterly bonds strain and their brave heroines make sacrifices to remedy a great injustice.
"I've had my adventure/I don't need something new," defiantly trills Elsa.
Legions of fans do, and, despite its flimsy plot, Frozen II largely delivers.
FROZEN II (U, 103 mins) Animation/Adventure/Musical/Romance/Comedy. Featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Alfred Molina, Evan Rachel Wood, Ciaran Hinds. Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Released: November 22