Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 30 minutes, Directors – Walt Dhorn, David P. Smith
When Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of the Rock Trolls sets out to destroy all music, except rock, Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) ventures into new realms outside of Pop Village to stop her.
Back in 2016 Trolls taught audiences, mostly under the age of 6, to “find their happy place”. Now, four years later, the fuzzy, intensely-coloured characters – based on the once popular naked, plastic, high-haired miniature figures of the same name – return to the screen, although at this time not quite the big-screen in what has been billed on some posters as the “Happiest. Movie. Ever”. And it certainly seems as if Trolls: World Tour is aiming for that. Opening with now Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) loving her new life as royalty in Pop Village. Everything is upbeat and wonderful as everyone belts out loud pop songs in large scale musical numbers involving almost every single troll in the village – including Branch (Justin Timberlake), who found happiness and his colours at the end of the previous film, despite still be a rather pessimistic character in the sequel.
World Tour very much focuses on Poppy, Branch is sidelined as a supporting character, and almost only seems to be present because he was the lead in the first film. He has a mild storyline of wanting to admit his true feelings to Poppy, something seen in a number of sequels like this – making the world larger instead of look deeper into the one that already existed. In fact much of Trolls: World Tour seems to be based around sub-plots for the convenience of the later stages of the main storyline, or small bursts of ideas to fuel another small burst later in the film. All amongst the backdrop of sugary positivity and music.
Poppy and Branch, alongside Biggie (James Corden) and, what seems to be his pet, Mr Dinkles (Kevin Michel Richardson) – a role that seems to have been increased more than necessary because ‘James Corden’, venture into the other realms, like a stuffed-felt-based version of The Lego Movie – where different genres of music lie. From country and classical to techno and funk. All to warn the Kings and Queens of such areas that Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of the Rock Trolls is coming with her Mad Max style legion of dark rockers to obtain all the strings that help to create the different genres of music. Her aim is to be able to put them all together to play a power chord that will get rid of all music except rock, therefore creating an undivided world. Much of the reasons behind this, like a number of elements from the film, stem from cliche – something which this film suffers from a great deal. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of originality within this sequel, however that really isn’t it’s biggest downfall.
The main reason why Trolls: World Tour doesn’t succeed is down to the fact that it takes almost everything that caused a headache in the first film and turns it up to eleven. This might be alright, as was the case with the original film, for those under the age of six or seven, but perhaps not quite for the adults who will have to sit through this with them. The endlessly shouted assertions that everything is alright and happy even gets too much at times. The whole thing almost gets a bit too much and repetitive, especially when fuelled with the world by world nature of the film, with only a short interval of sub-plot to allow for a new ‘set’ to be built and the run-time to be extended.
There are some small, brief glimpses throughout the run-time that World Tour might itself pick up and become something better. Most of these moments lie within the character of Barb, the reasons behind her intentions and simply her actions, alongside the music that she and the Rock Trolls delight in – and her elderly, chair-bound father; played by Ozzy Osbourne, certainly one of the more obscure ‘how did they get them!?’ pieces of casting in a film. Yet none of this is enough to distract from the overall nature of the film, which almost seems to scream positivity in the hope that it’ll be able to distract from the cliche even for just a minute or two. And while there are moments that don’t feature mass amounts of glitter the film quickly reverts to it’s original, overly-exuberant style. If there was more to Trolls: World Tour – as was the case with the first film – then it might work and be more bearable, however it’s rather similar in its style and tone. Trying to force multiple messages through, all of which are almost obvious from the start, and heavily relying on the glaringly bright and colourful nature of the loud musical numbers, this sequel is more of a slight-step down, and certainly more of a headache, than an improvement on the first.
Even if there does seem to be a hint more story, amongst various small sub-plots and ideas, than the first Trolls: World Tour is still predominantly filled with loud, glaringly glittery and exuberant headache-inducing musical numbers that might work for young kids, but perhaps not for those who have to watch it with them, or anyone else.