In a world where darkness looms at every corner and Disney seemingly reigns supreme, one other film company has dared to release a film that - no pun intended - pulls at our heartstrings. Despite not having much luck with sequels to its animated films in the past, Dreamworks takes another shot here with Trolls World Tour, and it scores. Almost four years after its predecessor, the little monsters return with more music and mayhem than ever, but most will find that the film’s real star is its marvelous message.
Walt Dohrn, who I’ve personally been a fan of since his work on the Shrek franchise, returns to direct alone after co-directing with Mike Mitchell on the original. As his first solo effort, he does well. The animation is beautiful, the musical sequences are great, and there’s some particularly impressive attention to detail. My only regret is not having the opportunity to see this film in theaters in digital 3D.
Funny enough, the film is a bit of a parody of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s revealed early on that the Trolls from the first film aren’t the only ones of their kind. There are, in fact, five other Troll nations near them, and each one practices or lives by a specific genre of music. In fact, each nation has a special string where they draw their music from. The main Trolls practice pop, while the other nations practice classical music, country music, techno, funk, and hard rock. When the Queen of the Hard Rock Trolls decides she wants all the nations to be like hers, she sets out on a quest to collect the other five strings and leaves a trail of destruction along the way. When the main Trolls learn of her plan though, Queen Poppy sets off on a quest of her own to bring all the nations together.
I honestly loved the premise, and found that it gave the Trolls much more of a purpose than the first film. In addition to not being slaves this time around, they’re also allowed to explore more of their own world and interact with more characters like themselves. And as much as it does riff on Infinity War, I liked the fact that it has fun putting a musical spin on the story too.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Now, like any sequel, there are tons of new characters introduced, but I’d argue that this film might have too many. I understand that we are introduced to five whole new worlds in this film, but the amount of secondary characters that just keep on getting introduced seems to never end. And it doesn’t help when most of the characters that are introduced only serve as a gag either.
One Troll in particular, played by Jamie Dornan, literally only has one minute of screentime. His character is a bounty hunter hired to try and capture Queen Poppy. Of course, he fails miserably and also delivers a few lines that are meant to be funny that aren’t. There’s also an annoyingly random baby character named Tiny Diamond that, despite being played by Keenan Thompson and having a couple of funny lines, really serves no purpose. The film is littered with characters like this.
Conversely, there are a bunch of characters that do seem promising that I personally wanted to see more of, but who also do not get enough screen time. I felt this way about all of the Funk Trolls that were introduced.
I also liked how this film chose to follow one secondary Troll character from the first film and make him just as much of a lead as Queen Poppy or Branch. Cooper, played by Ronald Funches, has a massive role in this that ties into the plot in an interesting way. Sequels rarely take risks like this, and it pays off really well.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
As you might have guessed, the sound design was also great. In any musical, sound design is important and because this is an animated musical, it shows that the filmmakers worked very closely to have everything in sync.
Honestly, while I don’t think the music is as good as the first film, there is a lot more variety. In addition to the six primary genres that divide the Troll nations, genres like Jazz, Reggaeton, and even K-Pop also have a role in the film. Celebrating differences is what this film is all about, and it succeeds gloriously with the mere inclusion of those genres that aren’t always respected or acknowledged.
As mentioned before, the film is beautifully animated. I applaud the animators for their creativity in making each Troll nation different from the others. Every new location in the film has a distinguished look and feel that just perfectly captures the essence of its corresponding genre. For instance, the Hard Rock Trolls wear all black and the Classical Trolls have wigs and wings.
"Because You Can’t Harmonize Alone."
Trolls World Tour may not be the best animated film I’ve ever seen, or even the best musical film, but it’s arrived at the best time. In what could very well be the music event of the year, these little creatures bring a surprising amount of solace in a film that highlights the importance of being yourself. More importantly, it proves that as long as our hearts still beat, we have a real shot at changing the world, even in tiny ways.