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Trolls is a CG animated musical comedy family film from executive producer Dannie Festa and produced by Gina Shay (Shrek Forever After, The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut). The film is based upon the massively successful Trolls toys created by Thomas Dam. The film features music by superstar pop icon Justin Timberlake.
The story focuses upon Troll Village and its inhabitants of colorful trolls who spend all day long dancing, singing, or hugging one another. They live a happy, peaceful, and simple life and enjoy the pleasantry of each other's company. The trolls only real problem is found with their nemeses known as the Bergens (who seem to feel that they only get happiness out of life by eating trolls).
Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is the happiest of all of the trolls and she spends most of her time daydreaming and thinking about rainbows and music parties. She soon meets Branch (Justin Timberlake), a sad, glum troll who has lost sight of happiness and spends most of his time in a bunker built to avoid dealing with the Burgens (for up to ten years).
As for the Bergens: there's a diabolical chef who wants to serve the trolls up as yummy-yummy food to all of the Bergens, King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is a new, young leader of the group, and Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) a maid who works at the kingdom and who wants to be in a relationship with Gristle but who doesn't value herself. When a raid by the Bergens leads to some trolls being captured and taken away (for a special celebratory dinner!) it's up to Poppy, Branch, and other surviving trolls to try and save the day by rescuing their friends from being eaten.
The animation in the film is a mixture of traditional modern CG animation and hand-done work with art scrapbooking. It's an unusual approach but one that gives the film a little more edge as something creatively. The overall aesthetic is technically strong with vivid colors and a wide range of character designs inspired by (but not simply recreating) the iconic Trolls toy look. Animation-wise, the artists involved in the production of the film did solid work. With the cinematography by Yong Duk Jhun (Kung Fu Panda, Shrek Forever After) the film has a exuberant, colorful, and wide-range palette.
The music for Trolls is certainly one of the film's biggest attractions. Superstar Justin Timberlake (who also voices one of the lead characters) offers up some infectious pop songs (most especially on hit "Can't Stop the Feeling!") Timberlake also executive produced the soundtrack and helped with the overall implementation and direction of the music (which also includes new renditions of hit pop songs and which are performed by cast members: including lead Anna Kendrick).
The story is by Erica Rivinoja (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2). The screenplay for the film was written by the screenwriting team of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda Trilogy, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water). Unfortunately, the story is one of the film's biggest weaknesses. The storytelling really weakens the overall production.
The characters feel poorly developed. The storyline is average at best. While the production aesthetics are impressive the story isn't as well designed as it could have been. The basic message of the movie -- be happy-- while a good message, also isn't as well developed or sufficiently explored as it could be (and the film offers up some bad messages to young girls, with one sequence in particular having the character Bridget pretending to be someone she's not by dressing up, putting on make-up, and trying desperately to impress King Gristle). The story feels entirely paper-thin, devoid of good characterizations, and like it is the work of an overly commercialized product.
Directed by Walt Dohrn (SpongeBob Squarepants) and Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Sky High), Trolls has good energy which makes it a modestly entertaining watch. Yet it's also a film which lacks a great pace or purpose. It feels like a giant commercial at times. Or like a music video that lasts almost two hours. While Trolls will provide adults with modest diversion, the film is basically going to appeal primarily to kids and even then it's a disappointing effort that ultimately feels like it is insulting to the intelligence of kids everywhere.
Trolls arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2:35:1 widescreen. This is an exceptionally strong encode with a healthy 28mbps bit-rate which is quite pleasing for the presentation. The quality of the video presentation shines with great color reproduction, clarity, and depth.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound. This is a sonically rich audio track with excellent use of the surrounds. The music is well implemented into the film. Throughout the presentation, the dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. The fidelity of the presentation is superb and satisfactory.
Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.
Travel Through Troll Village (5 min., HD) is an animated featurette featuring the character of Cloud Guy giving an introduction to characters from the Trolls universe.
The Potion for Stop-Motion (5 min., HD) is the most interesting extra included on this release. It focuses on the way stop-motion animation was implemented into a few sequences with the use of scrapbooking to create hand-made art for the film. The interviews featuring the art team responsible for this aspect of the film is interesting.
Creating Troll Magic (5 min., HD) explores the animation process for the development and creation of the look of the Trolls in the film.
Inside the Bunker (3 min., HD) is a guided animation tour with Cloud Guy through Branch's elaborate bunker.
Troll 2 Troll (5 min., HD) features question and answer sessions with Anna Kendrick (as Poppy) and Justin Timberlake (as Branch).
Deleted Scenes (7 min, HD)
Theatrical Trailer (HD)
Trailers for other Dreamworks Animation film productions.
Trolls is a beautifully animated film which happens to lack great originality as a story. It's a film that feels overly commercialized and it is devoid of great meaning. It's part commercial for Trolls toys and partly a animated diversion for kids. Unfortunately, it isn't much more than that. The Blu-ray release features a strong presentation of the film and a weak assortment of extras. Trolls diehards might consider it worthy of a purchase, but for everyone else...
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.