'Frozen 2' meets its high expectations with music, visual effects

NEW YORK -- Half a dozen years after "Frozen" broke box-office records, expectations for the sequel are so high that it seems nearly impossible for those who created the original to top themselves.

For all who enjoyed the first film, "Frozen 2" will explain much of what has come before while still managing to advance the story and feel like a worthy successor to an original that grossed more than $1.25 billion in theaters around the world.

"It's a couple of years later," said Idina Menzel, who plays Queen Elsa. "And it's a wonderful way to parallel sort of everyone growing up with the movie because the girls are growing up as well."

And the source of her character's magical powers is explained this time.

"It's a much bigger world than you're used to," said Kristen Bell, who is back to lend her voice to Elsa's sister Anna. "In this movie, I really wanted Anna to deal with her co-dependency. She does everything for Elsa and those around her, so what is she supposed to do when she's only got to think about herself?"

The new film also deals with the idea of exploring self-love, confidence and self-esteem.

The sisters get separated after they travel to an enchanted forest, guided to the lost land by a mysterious sound that Elsa hears in her head.

"They're the first people who've been able to penetrate this fog," said Sterling K. Brown, whose character has been stuck in the forest for 30 years. "You get the heart you always get from a Disney flick, but it's almost like an adventure film, which I really appreciate about the whole thing. It's very kinetic and the film constantly moves."

Snowman Olaf is back to provide plenty of laughs, and Josh Gad milks every scene.

He describes his character, "like one of those people at a party who just raises his hand and says something that nobody asked about."

Animation that can only be described as "lush" plus more than half a dozen new songs mean this is a bigger picture in more ways than one, and state-of-the-art Dolby screening offers stunningly bright colors and deep, rich blacks.

Just as the sequel advances the story of Elsa and Anna, so does new technology developed for the movie raise the bar for what's possible in a digital picture.

"Frozen 2" is from Walt Disney Pictures, owned by the same parent company as ABC.
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