I have been awake for hours. I don’t think I have ever been to the cinema this early. I had an early physio appointment and was trying to kill time before going shopping, so decided to go watch a Christmas showing of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) at my local cinema. Unfortunately, I was there so early that I was not allowed to go into the screening without a child…. (something I have never heard of before). So instead of watching this, I waited and watched the next film scheduled, which was ‘Trolls’, and was pleasantly surprised.
‘Trolls’ is a new animation musical based on the dolls of the same name (created by Thomas Dam), in which small creatures with fantastic hair called “Trolls” live in a perpetual state of happiness, achieved by singing, dancing and hugging all day long. Large creatures called “Bergens” also exist, who are mean creatures that believe that they can never discover happiness unless they eat Trolls – and so hold an annual festival, called Trollstis, during which each Bergen consumes a Troll. However, the Trolls, led by their King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), manage to escape from this through underground tunnels on the day that the Bergen crown Prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) was supposed to try first Troll. Consequently, the furious Bergen King Gristle Sr. (John Cleese) banishes his head Chef (Christine Baranski) who was in charge of the Troll preparation.
20 years later, the Troll King’s daughter, the extremely happy pink Troll Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), throws a big party to celebrate the Trolls’ escape, despite the warnings of the grey grumpy Troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) that this will attract the Bergen. Branch’s fears are realised when the banished Chef hears the commotion and captures some of the Trolls. Poppy and a few others manage to hide, but discovers that none of the other Trolls dare to venture to Bergen Town to rescue their friends. Consequently, Poppy, along with the reluctant help of Branch, has to save the captured Trolls – but are met by many obstacles/have to spread happiness along the way to overcome these (in spite of opposition from Branch).
From first glance, ‘Trolls’ has an extremely strong cast of both main characters and supporting roles, including; Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, James Cordon and Gwen Stafani (to name but a few). I read somewhere that Jason Schwartzman (known for his roles in numerous Wes Anderson films like ‘Rushmore’ (1998), and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014)) was originally down for the main role of Branch, which would have been great, as he is one of my favourite actors. However, I must say that I really enjoyed Justin Timberlake’s performance. There is something about his voice that really suits animations… He also helped produce the music of this film, which is a plus, as the soundtrack is fantastic.
Anna Kendrick is also ok in this film. I’m not a massive fan of her… I did not like her in either ‘Pitch Perfect’ film, ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ (2016) or any of the ‘Twilight’ films (there is something annoying in every one of these characters that irritates me). I did, however, really like her in ‘The Accountant’ (2016), so am starting to warm to her. I am hoping that she will start playing more diverse, stronger roles as her career progresses. Her role as Poppy in ‘Trolls’ is really cute (and not over the top), so she captures this optimistic, happy character perfectly.
The best part of this film, for me, is the animation. It’s amazing!! I was so fastinated by this that I decided to read up on it after leaving the cinema, and discovered that this is the first film from DreamWorks animation since 1998. Considering this, I think they have done a great job. A large portion of this film is stop motion. I read an article that described the techniques used on this film, and discovered that the surroundings were made of felt and the ground of carpet, both of which, like the scrapbook effects, were actually cut and sewn. I really like this hand-made effect, as well as the fibre look, that this creates. I also read that one of the hardest features to capture, in terms of animation, is animating hair, which of course is a crucial element in ‘Trolls’ (as the Trolls use their hair as a superpower). Glitter is also tricky, as having to mirror the reflections of this (pardon the pun), is extremely hard and time consuming. Both directors (Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell) began working in the art department, working on amazing stop motion pictures like Roald Dhal’s adaptation of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ (1996), and animations like the ‘Shrek’ films, so have more than enough experience behind them to have overcome and nailed such a daunting project. They also provide a number of the voices, including Cloud Guy (Walt Dohrn) – my favourite character.
As mentioned above, I think that the soundtrack is fantastic. I hate with a passion the auto-tuned style used, but loved the selection of covers and the original songs that were written for this film. Similarly, I like how the songs were used in this film. This is not a traditional musical, in that musical numbers are not buildt up to. Instead because music is so ingrained into the Trolls lifestyle, they use it as a way of communicating and expressing feelings. Consequently, large parts of the script are songs or parts of songs, and are sporadically sung – not introduced as big numbers that all the cast get involved with.
‘Trolls’ is a very uplifting, feel-good movie. The setting created is a very immersive world, and is beautifully animated with vivid colours, and I love that the film has a female protagonist. ‘Trolls’ definitely made me feel happy, and the humour was on point, I am just not sure it was the right time of year or time of day to watch it. It was a rather intense spectacle to be watching so early, and because of the large pallet of colours used, it is definitely more of a summer film. I was not a massive fan of the auto-tune used, but excused this by the strong cover and original songs in the film. In terms of the script I really liked it, but would have liked to have seen more or Cloud Guy. Other than that, if you like animations then you’ll love this.