Updated: Sep 22, 2021
When it comes to Dreamworks the animation studio has had its share of successful series like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. However, in recent years the studio has had difficulty establishing a new franchise that can live up to Dreamwork’s more popular series; well that was case until a few years ago when Dreamworks released Trolls: a movie based on the classic toy line. In a way Trolls took Dreamworks back to its roots by being an energetic musical and though it may not have been groundbreaking the film certainly made an impression by being an enjoyable experience. Needless to say, Dreamworks found success with the 2016 feature and with it came a new franchise for the studio. After a few television specials the colorful creatures would make a cinematic return in the new film: Trolls World Tour. Directed by Walt Dohrn, Trolls World Tour continues the adventure of Poppy and Branch by expanding the world of trolls. A sequel for Trolls was not unwarranted as there was plenty to explore in this zany world, and that idea alone was enough to get me interested to check out the new film. After seeing it for myself, I can say that Trolls World Tour brings the music-but it falls flat in certain areas.
The plot of Trolls World Tour centers on Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) traveling to the troll kingdoms in order to stop the rocker Barb (Rebecca Bloom) who wants to take control of the kingdoms so that rock can prevail. The plot to this sequel had strong elements to it such as its sense of world building. While the first film featured a straightforward journey, its successor managed to expand on the lore while putting Poppy and Branch on a road trip like adventure. However, where this plot missteps was in its execution. The delivery felt abrupt to the point where the plot points, though appreciated, lacked the gravitas needed to be effective. Furthermore, the conflict did not mesh with the story’s adventurous aspect. While the quest could be entertaining at times it also detracted from the major issue at hand and because of this it left a lackluster impression to this outrageous adventure.
Trolls had a colorful cast of characters. While the cast of the 2016 film was simplistic in their direction the group did leave an impression. The same thing could be said about the cast of this sequel albeit to a lesser extent. Poppy and Branch were an enjoyable duo and their separate progression was decent with Poppy having the stronger development of the two. The inclusion of Biggie (James Corden) on the other hand was underwhelming as him joining Poppy and Branch did very little to bring something to the group. Other returning characters such as from King Peppy (Walt Dohrn) lacked an impression due to their limited screen time. Fortunately, this did not go for every returning cast member as Cooper (Ron Funches) had some major progression which brought a nice touch for the movie. When it came to the new additions the broader world of trolls certainly had an entourage of characters as the likes of Hickory (Sam Rockwell), Delta Dawn (Kelly Clarkson), King Quincy (George Clinton) and King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne) in some form or fashion. Last and certainly not least was the villainous rocker Barb. Barb was a highlight for the cast as her energetic demeanor was matched by her compelling determination. What held Barb back was her lacking screen time as it prevented her development from truly flourishing.
While Trolls did not revolutionize the concept of animation it did feature a stylish design while having a vibrant presentation. When it comes to Trolls World Tour this area was pretty much the same. The animation was not awe inspiring but it did live up the style of its predecessor. Although this was not to say that the animation did not have moments as sequences like the retelling of the troll history was impressive to say nothing else. Along with the zany animation was the movie’s outlandish sense of humor. The comedy was decent as the wacky hijinks was complimented by the timely delivery of the performers. Yet if there was one area that was going to be notable it was the music. The previous film was unique by featuring several musical covers as well as originals songs. The soundtrack turned out be a highlight for the film as the numbers such as “Can’t Stop the Feeling” were quite memorable-not to mention catchy. Sadly, the same thing cannot be said the music of this sequel. While the songs are performed well the music itself was hardly memorable as the few of the numbers finished before they even get started. What is even more disheartening is the fact that the movie featured several musical artists and this array of genres could have made for a unique soundtrack but, unfortunately, the film’s execution in this area made this colorful musical come off flat.
While Trolls brought the music, Trolls World Tour misses the beat. The sequel made the right steps by building more of the established world, and it had its moments through its performances and its humor. However, when it came to its presentation this film left much to be desired. From the storytelling to music the movie was underwhelming to the point where even the most glamorous of moments left a minimal impression. I cannot say that Trolls World Tour is the worst animated sequel that I have ever seen, but it is certainly not a memorable one as its mediocrity left this film, as well as the franchise, on a low note.