To start, the music in the sequel holds more weight. Children may not like every song as much as they did for the original film since none of the tunes have stuck as much as "Let It Go". The break-out song of this film was marketed to be "Into the Unknown", which is not the most creative song on the soundtrack, but still seems craftier than "Let It Go". Kids might struggle to catch on to the melody, but the lyrics are more fulfilling and Idina Menzel's (Enchanted) voice carries it quite well. Her voice truly defies gravity and is such a treasure to the listener. Along with the new hit, audiences can enjoy a cheesier song from Olaf and a hard-hitting love ballad from Kristoff. Olaf's song is similar to his debut in Frozen, but Kristoff brings older viewers the nostalgia of artists like Meatloaf or REO Speedwagon. It's a fun and intentionally ridiculous 80s tribute. These songs are a treat for adults and kids alike.
Furthermore, the voice work and script for this follow-up are more exciting and creative. While Olaf did not have too many lines in the original film and still annoyed me, it appears he has more lines in the sequel but never comes off as overly annoying. Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter), and Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, 21) round out the cast again with a few extra voice actors in minor roles. Menzel and Bell voice the young sisters so fittingly. Gad plays a slightly more matured Olaf, but still sounds like a curious snowchild. The big breakout for me with this film was Groff's ability to sing. I'm a big fan of Mindhunter and Groff's character in the Netflix show is so different from Kristoff; it took me a while to realize they are played by the same person. I can see this ensemble making a few more films together if everyone stays aboard the wintery franchise.
While I do like the sequel more than the original, there are a few choices that are flawed and leave the viewer pondering. A couple of the things that were left unexplained in the first film are brought back and explained in this film, but this film has characters choose certain paths that are unnatural. At one point, a main character (trying to avoid spoilers still) makes a choice that contradicts everything the film sets up. It left me scratching my head and wondering if they just couldn't figure out a better way to progress the plot. I still give praise to this plot for being more original than the first film, with no real villain for the sisters to face off with. This is more about character development than it is about a battle at the end, creating a refreshing story for Disney.
I would go amiss without mentioning the visual effects. I saw the film in Laser IMAX and it was totally worth the big screen experience. The ice shimmers across the screen and while there is not a lot of real action sequences, there are quite a few moments where the beautiful landscape shines bright with the reflecting snowy overlay. There was one point where the pine trees looked so realistic that I had to do a double-take and look away from the screen for a minute. It truly is amazing what modern technology has done for artists and animation studios.
The Bottom Line: This darker sequel progresses the characters that kids and adults already love, but has flaws that are left unexplained and contradictory.