Trolls World Tour (2020)

Trolls World Tour poster.jpgDirector: Walt Dohrn
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Certification: U
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar, Karan Soni, Ozzy Osbourne, Icona Pop, Jamie Dornan, J Blavin

Loosely based on the once popular Troll Dolls, Dreamworks released the rather charming Trolls back in 2016. It was a hit at the time, even scoring an Academy Award nomination, but as four years have passed, whatever lasting impression it had seems to have passed on. As the sequel is ready to be released, unfortunate real world events has forced cinemas to close. As a result, some titles which would be now showing in cinemas can be digitally rented at home, and Trolls World Tour is the first major title to bypass theatres completely.

No longer worried about being hunted by Bergens, the returning Trolls discover they're only one of six different tribes, scattered across the lands, and each devoted to a different kind of music. As Poppy (Anna Kendrick) struggles to adjust to her duties as Queen, and Branch (Justin Timberlake) grapples with admitting his feelings for his friend, they must unify the tribes against Barb (Rachel Bloom), who wishes to destroy all other kinds of music, and ensure Rock reigns supreme.

It's clear the filmmakers wanted to expand the world of these music-loving characters, resulting in an animated epic which does that very thing, and bizarrely, comes off as a jukebox musical version of Avengers: Infinity War. From the opening scenes, as we witness our antagonist's display of power on the first part of their scavenger hunt, wreckage is left in their wake to collect six separate items. Each are distinctly coloured, and powerful on their own, but uniting them all will see the antagonist reshape reality to their own suiting.

But where the Russo Brothers had 149 minutes to tell their multi-locale tale, while granting enough screentime to each of the main players, the same can't be said of this film. What's left is an overstuffed 87 minutes unable to properly develop character arcs and subplots, while the various tribes and locales feel trapped in the concept stage, and not fleshed out like big-budget depictions of Wakanda and Themyscira have been. Once more, the cast seems to have been composed with the idea of filling it out with recognisable names, even if there isn't enough material to go around for them all. Jamie Dornan is recruited to voice a smooth jazz artist, and is limited to fleeting appearances outside of his single scene.

In spite of this, there is much worth watching throughout this rather cute film. Even though the tone can feel overwhelming at times, it's hard to deny how infectiously fun the proceedings become, and even deliver on some decent gags, A standout line declares how they should get tattoos everywhere except the face, in case they need to get an office job. There's even a visual reference to Mad Max: Fury Road, just in time for the films fifth anniversary.

But like its predecessor, the onslaught of musical tunes leads towards where the film truly standouts, in the messages it delivers. The time is taken to address how differences should be celebrated, rather than making everybody change themselves to represent something so singular, ancestral sin, and even how history is written by the winners. These are important messages which more mainstream films could stand to talk about, and Trolls World Tour took the Crazy Train to do just that.