‘Trolls World Tour’- Film Review: The Animated Sequel Vibes with Mixed Results

With Trolls World Tour, the latest sequel from DreamWorks Animation, being the first movie so far to skip its theatrical release and become a digital rental, that idea sounded strange, but even if those who weren’t excited about this and wouldn’t know how to feel watching it in the theater, Universal Pictures made the logical choice in making this work, instead of pushing it to next year. This is also helpful when the kids’ are at home and need something new to watch since they can’t go to the theater at the moment.

What’s the Story: Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also devoted to six different kinds of music — funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock. When rockers Queen Barb (voiced by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom) and King Thrash set out to destroy the other music, Poppy and Branch embark on a daring mission to unite the trolls and save the diverse melodies from becoming extinct.

Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick in Trolls World Tour (2020)

After the success of its 2016 predecessor, which is loosely based on the toy dolls, coming out with a sequel four years later was inevitable. I quite enjoyed the first Trolls when it came out. Was it my favorite animated movie of that year? No, but it might’ve surprised me since it turned out to be entertaining enough to enjoy myself with its colorful animation and the music. One of those songs was “Can’t Stop The Feeling!,” which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

My anticipation for Trolls World Tour was exactly the same when the first one came out as the trailers had me convinced this would not be funny, let alone annoying.
Even if this was still coming out in theaters without this pandemic happening, I would still be on defense of wondering if I was going to spend $6 at the theater. If you’re a fan of the original, this will be worth your time. But is it as good, though? Sadly, this animated sequel takes place on that underwhelming line.

Like with talking about any animated movie out, talking about the animation is a big deal. Just from the last movie, Walt Dohrn and co-director David P. Smith did its job in making the colorful animation look beautiful to glance at, and you don’t have to be high to appreciate how great it looks. That fact is most prevalent during the opening sequences with the Techno trolls, feeling like you’re in a nightclub. This carries on that fast-paced energy that the children will embrace for its 90 minutes.

The likes of Kendrick and Timberlake lending their voices again for Poppy and Branch, and just like before, their chemistry is undoubtedly the driving power of this franchise. Every time both of them are on their press tours to promote the movie, I believe they had fun recording their material and getting back into the groove with their animated counterparts. We see the relationship between the two characters has grown since the end of the last movie and Branch really wants to tell his true feelings toward Poppy. Sounds a bit like that subplot in Frozen 2, right? That I could’ve done without. But here’s some good news: Timberlake sings more in here, which I was glad about.

Some returning cast members include James Corden with a bigger role as Biggie, Kunal Nayyar as Guy Diamond, Ron Funches as Cooper, and others too, even if their screen time isn’t that much. There’s also a ton of new people joining this, and I forgot they were even in this until they released the dozen character posters last summer.

For the artist, you got your Kelly Clarkson, Anderson Paak, Mary J. Blige, Ozzy Osbourne, and the legend George Clinton representing their genres. My favorite new character came from Paak as Prince D, Cooper’s twin brother. I also got to mention Sam Rockwell as Hickory. Bloom voicing Queen Barb is a welcome addition as the main antagonist this time around. Not the most memorable villain from the studio when there wasn’t character development for her that could’ve done more with, but it shows the Golden Globe winner has an awesome voice. Now I really need to watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Ozzy Osbourne and Rachel Bloom in Trolls World Tour (2020)

If you’ve seen the first one, then you know there will be a lot of covers of famous songs that we’ve listened to now and before, though they sing more cover songs than anything original, becoming just become pointless after a while to keep going with them. It’s a cool way of letting its young demographic know some awesome songs that they might not be familiar with. The only time I wasn’t feeling it was when Poppy, Branch, and Biggie sing this pop medley of dated songs in the Country land. Some original songs weren’t too bad for my taste, but the one that was the biggest standout came from a new song Paak and Timberlake sang called “Don’t Slack,” that’s really catchy. The bummer with these songs is that there that “Can’t Stop The Feeling” found in here.

But what’s probably my main problem with why Trolls World Tour didn’t turn to be as fun as I thought it would be is that the central story, written by five screenwriters, wasn’t that interesting to follow. Taking the predictability part out of this, I felt there were not a lot of stakes found when you already assume how it’s going to all come in the end. Learning about how there are different lands dedicated to that brand of music is already a fascinating idea to carry through the sequel. Do we spend a lot of time with them? Not exactly. Probably my favorite was when they visit Funk since I am fond of that music. Kind of think of it, Queen Barb’s plan sounds pretty familiar to Thanos’s plan in collecting the Infinity Stones. Not only that, but the humor also wasn’t working for me. At least the first movie had some surprisingly funny moments. Here, they mostly fell flat, only making me laugh about two times.

Justin Timberlake, Ye-rim Kim, Soo-Young Park, Joo-Hyun Bae, Seul-gi Kang, and Son Seung-Wan in Trolls World Tour (2020)

There’s a reasonable message that kids’ can get from this, and it’s that we should appreciate all kinds of music since it’s a certain way of connecting us all. Not everybody can fall in love with one genre, but all the unique sounds that everybody takes part in is there as a universal language. That’s why we have yearly music festivals to bring everybody together and not only show love for artists around the world, but sharing our taste in what makes us jam out. Though I’m conflicted with the fact rock is seen as bad, which isn’t entirely true since there’s a ton of awesome music that has come from rock. What matters is that we should embrace all different side of music.

Overall, there isn’t much to expect from Trolls World Tour when it’s more of the same, but not as cool as its predecessor. Some highlights go directly to the animation, voice cast, and delivering a message easy to understand, yet it didn’t have that refreshing plot that doesn’t make it fun, but forgettable. I can definitely see why most wouldn’t like this, where I’m somewhere in the middle. If you liked the first movie, the chances of liking this are high. For those who thought the opposite, there’s no point in watching it if not meant for you. Though while this isn’t anything to roll your eyes over, it’s a safe watch to enjoy with your families if you don’t have anything going on in the evening for a movie night.

Overall Grade: C+



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