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Trolls World Tour - Review

Trolls World Tour

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

VISUALLY ravishing but creatively inert, Trolls World Tour is a largely tedious follow-up to 2016’s surprise animated smash, which in itself threatened to overdo the sugar rush.

Following pretty much the exact same formula as its predecessor, the sequel quickly succumbs to everything that’s bad about franchise movie-making when the creative forces behind them aren’t prepared to take risks or even offer any emotional depth.

The fact that it’s co-written by no less than five screenwriters (and that’s five too many to list by name), as well as two story developers, and boasts two directors in Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith, makes its shortcomings all the more difficult to overlook.

Picking up shortly after the events of Trolls, the sequel finds a new threat to the Trolls’ happiness in the form of a rock-loving rival Troll named Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom), who has made it her mission to force all other Trolls to give up their own musical taste in favour of her own.

This, in turn, leads to the discovery that five other tribes exist, in the form of techno, funk, country and rock, as well as pop. It’s down to Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and put-upon boyfriend Branch (Justin Timberlake) to save the day, with a little help from Biggie (James Corden) and mysterious country sympathiser centaur Hickory (Sam Rockwell).

As with the first film, Trolls World Tour finds Poppy and Branch at odds with each other as they set off on their mission to bring happiness to a potential threat. And much like the first film, there’s a heavy emphasis on touchy-feely sentiments about the nature of acceptance and allowing everyone to fit in.

But while the feel-good nature of proceedings undoubtedly plays well to younger audiences and advocates a solid [and timely] message, the heavy-handed nature of the screenplay may just leave older members of the audience groaning and feeling that the likes of Pixar do it so much better (and with less manipulation).

The songs, this time around, also lack a genuinely stand out moment such as Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling, while the cover versions mostly lack imagination – and in the case of one pop medley, merely seek to underline the “crime against music” that pop can become.

There’s also a disappointing lack of character development, with neither Poppy or Branch appearing to develop and offer anything more than re-runs of their original selves. Their awkward central relationship also feels like a re-tread.

Indeed, the only place that Trolls World Tour really delivers is in its trippy visuals, which quite often offer up an explosion of colour that keep you enthralled. The various worlds are beautifully realised and capture the imagination in a way that the storytelling and dialogue don’t (save for the odd funny throwaway joke).

There’s also a certain amount of fun to be had in trying to guess which big name from the world of film or music is voicing the variety of new characters who populate proceedings, with the likes of Jamie Dornan and Ozzy Osbourne making the biggest impressions.

But for the most part, this is a frustratingly ordinary follow-up to a film that only just got away with things the first time around.

Certificate: U
Running time: 91mins