You know what, I have bashed Dreamworks a couple of times, but they actually can produce some excellent animation. I have already mentioned how much I love the Kung Fu Panda films when I did my review of Kung Fu Panda 3 and I am really a big fan of the How to Train Your Dragon series. That being said, however, when Dreamworks are bad they are not really on form, I may like the 1st two Shrek films, but the last 2 really don’t sit well with me, especially the 3rd one where I can’t recall a single funny moment in, and Trolls really looked like it would be joining that list. The trailers looked horrendous, it also doesn’t help that the film has been executively produced by Justin Timberlake and looked like it would be just a big advertisement for his up-coming album. That being said, however, the film does have the same writing team that were behind Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3, however, you’ve also got to remember that those guys did Alvin and The Chipmunks Shipwrecked, so let’s face it, they are not always on form.
I am nothing if not fair and I did give this film a good go over and I must be honest, well, there wasn’t really that much else to review this week, it was either this, Inferno or Storks and frankly Inferno looked so dull that I wouldn’t really have that much to say and Storks, well, I had already cancelled that review so I could review Your Name last week, so why not go and see a colourful Dreamworks film with a mass of celebrity voice cast, who by the way all looked like they had been picked because they were popular rather than they were right for the role, but as I said, I am fair, so with the very high standard of animation that we have received in 2016, how does Troll fit in the mix?
The plot of the film is that the Trolls have hidden from the Bergen for 20 years, since the Bergen believe that eating Trolls is the only way that they can feel happy. The Bergen Chef (voiced by Christine Baranski) however has now found them after Princess Poppy, (played Anna Kendrick) throws a party that is way too loud and attracts the Bergen to their location. After several of her friends are captured she asks for help from Branch, (played by Justin Timberlake) and they must make their way to the Bergen village in order to save their friends.
I have seen a lot of animated films this year, some that have been amazing, some mediocre, and 2 that have been complete garbage. This is the 3rd one. Yes, it will shock you to hear this, but Trolls is really, really awful and it really stems down to its asinine plot. The plot sounds simple on paper but the structure of the story is so horrendous that the premise simply cannot work. What I have described is actually only really part of the plot. It then for some reason, spends a large portion of its time doing its version of Trolls Cinderella, trying to get the young Bergen King (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) with a Bergen named Bridget (played by Zoey Deschanel). This whole thing really reeks of the production staff interfering with the film and it feels like they were clearly trying to capitalize off the success of Disney’s recent Cinderella movie, and realized they couldn’t be sued by Disney since the story is in public domain. This isn’t even the worst part of the film. There is no consistency whatsoever and it can’t stick to its world’s rules. If the Bergen can’t feel happiness unless they eat a Troll, then why are they excited for the festival when they can eat Trolls!!. They showed a wide range of expressions and emotions, happiness has got to be in there, making this whole film feels amazingly stupid. The Bergen king is very young in the film, but he’s only about 10-12 at most and we see him at the beginning of the film when he is 5 years old, that doesn’t sound off, but you have to remember they make it very clear 20 years have passed in the time between the flashbacks and the current time that the film is taking place. Do the Bergen age a lot less than the Trolls? It’s never acknowledged and it stinks of lazy writing. There are all sorts of moments like this. The big problem with the plot is that it never sticks to one thing and does it, it never has much character consistency, none of the moments that are meant to be so called ‘emotional’ actually work because you don’t care at all about the characters, since they are all awful stereotypes or cut outs or at worse just catch phrase spewing idiots!!! None of them are at all funny, none of the jokes made me laugh. In fact there are a couple of adult jokes thrown in there that felt wildly out of place, I guarantee you, the parents are not laughing at this film, they have fallen asleep!. The whole thing is just dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s really done for kids and its really, horrendously put together. You want to know what my worst factor of this film is, it’s noise. This film is nothing but constant noise. There is never a moment where the film takes a break. It’s constantly on. There is so much colour, so much action, so many sound effects and songs and it’s just unbearable. It feels like it is constantly hitting you over the head with a rainbow coloured baseball bat. It doesn’t help that all the colours are incredibly bright and obnoxious, but the thing constantly feels like, if it ever stops to have a moment, it will lose the kids attention.
I remember Doug Walker made an interesting parallel like this in one of his reviews, it’s a case of playing a level of Super Mario Bros, do you want Mario to be constantly moving, or do you want him to stop, jump and see a lot of really good technical platforming. You want the latter, because that’s more interesting to look at. This is just a get them in, get them out, and make sure they spend a ton of money, especially considering that when I saw this at Odeon there were tons of special product deals there, including getting a drink with a Trolls straw and cup.
My big problem with the film is also the Soundtrack. I normally keep the Soundtrack to the last portion when I talk about the animation and the production but it’s such a big highlight of the film that I feel this needs to be talked about now. The Soundtrack is awful. Ok, I don’t mind songs in kids films, some of the Disney films actually do it quite well, see films like Aladdin and Hunchback of Notre Dame for that. Difference being, they actually wrote songs for this. This is a Juke Box musical. They are all covers of songs and much like the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, they are mostly awful renditions of songs you would never want to hear by the original artists and of course with a few lyric changes because some of them have lyrics that are a bit risque, for the lack of a better term. The only difference between this and Alvin and the Chipmunks is they actually threw in a couple of songs that I like and ruined the hell out of them, including a terrible rendition of Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz and why the hell they thought it was a good idea to do a kids bop version of the Sound of Silence, I will never know, and just doing that alone is inexcusable and unforgiveable!!
You know what this film is like, you remember that song from that Simpsons episode, Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, yes, well imagine a whole film like that. That is the plot of this film in a nutshell, it’s nothing but a kid’s sugar rush and I think the biggest problem I had with the film was its message. The film tries to go with, all you have to do is be happy and everyone has the ability to be happy inside. Justin Timberlake’s character is a massive pessimist who was a bit of welcome relief until he started getting happy as the film went on. His big moment when you find out why he is so pessimistic doesn’t nearly have any of the impact it should have. What’s more, he keeps spouting on that not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but by the end of the film, this is kind of the solution. You remember how Inside Out ended, where it gave that really mature message that ‘sometimes its ok to be sad, it’s how you get back up from it that counts’ yes, this feels like the opposite message, of, ‘stay permanently happy and things will always go your way’ and that to me was my biggest problem of the film, it’s too simplistic and I feel once again, I have to mention, the film feels like the film equivalent of junk food, nothing but empty calories.
As for the performances, well we are a by the numbers family film that aims at the lowest common denominator you can expect a ton of celebrity voices. The only ones who really leave any sort of impression are Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, even though both of their characters were very annoying so I didn’t care for them. Apart from those two, the cast has clearly been chosen to be recognizable to both British and American audiences, hence why they have a lot of celebrities that are big in both countries, such as James Corden, Russell Brand, who barely gets anything to do and gets one of the worst characters to play, and that says a lot, and we even briefly get John Cleese who frankly feels wasted. The cast member who feels most out of place is definately Gwen Stefani, who really is here to just to add an extra famous name to the poster, she has no business being in this film and plays one of the most pointless roles. Overall the cast do a terrible job, but it’s not their fault since they are given awful lines and direction to work with. I didn’t even mention Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Zooey Deschanel who feels so underwhelming in their performances that they might as well have been replaced by professional voice actors to a similar or greater effect!
Well, if I am talking about production, well there isn’t much left really to talk about. I already mentioned this thing is basically a glorified advert for the Soundtrack, not surprising since Justin Timberlake is an Executive Producer on the film, I have already mentioned I hated the songs. But, let’s talk about the animation. As I said it is obnoxious with the amount of bright colours that are on screen, so much so, that I would recommend seeing the film in 3D even though I saw the 2D, since bright colours and tons of light suits 3D very well, but since I saw the 2D version, I felt that the bright colours really interfered with my enjoyment. It’s just all rainbow candy and I can’t stand that. Some studios work quite well with these colours. Recent Disney 3D films like Zootopia did very well with this, but at least they reigned it in. The Dream Eaters in Kingdom Hearts would be saying there is way too much colour on these things. Not to mention, that despite the fact that this is 3D animation from Dreamworks, it looks severely under the normal quality that they put out. This is especially evident considering that this is coming out in the same year as Kung Fu Panda 3 which I have already reviewed and those films had amazing animation. I really, really could not stand the amount of quick cuts and overly energetic scenes that were constantly in the movie. It doesn’t help that the movement looks awful just because it is way too energetic and I can’t keep up with it. It looks like a kid on a sugar rush!
The big question is though, is Trolls worse than Norm of the North, No. At least this film felt like it had some effort put into it. It has the same sort of idea of, do the kids 3D animated kids film formula and stick it out there that Norm of the North had. This one felt like some effort had been put into it, whereas Norm of the North feels like it was just made to make a buck! Does that make it a good film? Hell NO!! If it wasn’t for Norm of the North, Trolls would be the worst animated film I have seen this year. I really didn’t like this film and came out of the cinema extremely annoyed. The plot is all over the place, the characters were annoying and obnoxious, the voice acting was terrible, the writing is god awful, to such an extent, I didn’t even mention that the world has absolutely no concrete plan, since the writers couldn’t be bothered to think that up and the film has absolutely no climax whatsoever, it literally just ends, it couldn’t be bothered. The humour is never funny, and it’s just a lot of constant noise and movement, except for one sad moment(if you can even call it that), which was a welcome bit of relief after spending 1hr 30mins watching a film that was constantly on. I hated this film and I really never want to see it again. This is just a glorified advert for a terrible Soundtrack and if you want a terrible kid bops version of songs that were mostly awful in the first place, with a couple of exceptions, then you are welcome to it, but frankly, I am out, this film was painful.
No mini review this week, since I saw this the day after Your Name, and my goodness, was that a massive comedown.
“I can’t believe this was the end of the London Film Festival.”