They came, little girls of 4 and 5 by the look of them, dressed in long, frilly skirts of sea-foam blue, Elsa’s color. They came with their parents to a prerelease screening of “Frozen II.”
They got what they came for.
They got an elaborately mounted fairy-tale story of two royal sisters — Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), possessor of the power to turn objects into ice, and Anna (Kristen Bell) — deeply devoted to and fiercely protective of each other. A tale that begins in a mist-shrouded enchanted forest where the sisters embark on a quest to find the source and meaning of a mysterious voice Elsa, the eldest, hears in her head and that beckons her on to she knows not what.
In those woods they encounter giant, lumbering rock monsters. There, too, they’re befriended by a tiny, so-cute, big-eyed lizard that erupts in flames. (Be careful not to singe your hands.)
On their quest they’re accompanied by the chatty snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), spouting one-liners and earning giggles galore from the kids in the audience.
Bumbling along also is the well-meaning doofus Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Anna’s sweetie, comically thwarted time and again in his effort to propose marriage to his beloved.
Toward the end, there’s Elsa, on an immense crystalline horse, galloping to the rescue across a landscape of perils.
Congratulations, Disney. Mission accomplished. The inevitable sequel to the studio’s 2013 giga-hit “Frozen” (the highest-grossing animated movie ever at the time of its release, surpassed only this year by the latest iteration of “The Lion King”) gives its target audience — young kids — pretty much everything they could ask for. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (the latter also wrote the screenplay, both directed the original), it’s gorgeous-looking. It’s briskly paced. And it’s tuneful.
Uh, about those tunes: They’re blaringly, oppressively, crushingly LOUD!
With “Frozen” we got the rousing Oscar-winning “Let It Go.” With “Frozen II,” someone should have told the songwriters to tone it down.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the songwriters for “Let It Go,” returned to duty with “Frozen II,” contributing seven new songs to the picture. From the opening number (“All is Found,” sung by Evan Rachel Wood, who plays the sisters’ mother) to the finale (“The Next Right Thing,” performed by Bell), the impression you get is of the songwriters pressing too hard to try to top their work in the original.
An off-putting stridency mars most of the songs. Only one, “Into the Unknown” (sung by Menzel, who also performed “Let It Go” in “Frozen”), stands out in the way it plumbs the depths of Elsa’s emotions as she grapples with the reasons she embarks on what amounts to her perilous voyage of self-discovery in the enchanted woods.
The character designs — starting with the big-eyed heroines (blue eyes for Elsa, green for Anna) and their matching upturned noses, along with that way-cute flame lizard and the galumphing, grinning reindeer Sven that accompanies them on their adventures — all seem to have been created with the obligatory merchandising strongly in mind. There’s a definite cuddly quality there.
There’s a strong “sisterhood is powerful” element in the screenplay as Elsa and Anna must together meet and defeat the challenges the story lays before them. Of the primary male characters, Kristoff is a klutz and Olaf, with his dithery patter, is comic relief. His best moment comes when he speed-talks his way through a recounting of the plot of the first movie. Very clever.
★★½ “Frozen II,” with the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, from a screenplay by Lee. 120 minutes. Rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements. Opens Nov. 22 at multiple theaters.