Trolls Review

trolls-2016-movie-1Today I got the chance to see the latest film from Dreamworks, Trolls. This is a film I wasn’t looking forward to as the trailers had been frankly terrible (need I remind you of the twerking troll that we can never forget…). But, I always try to go into films with an open mind, and this was no exception. So what did I think of Trolls?

Well, it’s not awful but it is very uneven.

trolls-movieBased on the old toys from the 90s, Trolls is a simple story geared towards little children. It is about Poppy (Anna Kendrick) the happy troll and Branch (Justin Timberlake) the grumpy troll who must work together to save the rest of the trolls from the evil bergens.

Along the way they sing pop songs…this is where some of that unevenness comes in. A few of the songs work like the catchy Can’t Stop the Feeling but most are complete throw-aways and most aren’t very long. For example, they sing Sound of Silence or September for under a minute, which feels weird to have all these abbreviated numbers. Trolls isn’t a very long movie and it felt like the songs were often there to puff up a weak script.

trolls4Once Branch and Poppy get to the bergen village the movie changes from a road trip to a Cyrano de Bergerac story where Poppy and the trolls work to help a scullery maid named Bridget get the self confidence to court the Bergen prince. This part I didn’t really enjoy very much and I particularly found Bridget to be an annoying character very badly voiced by Zooey Deschanel.

trolls3That said, there was a cheerfulness to Trolls that was infectious and made me smile. There were some nice moments of heart between Branch and Poppy and overall I think little kids will be entertained.

It’s very similar to Angry Birds Movie, so if you liked that than you will love Trolls. The message is a little better but the plots are very similar.

The voice casting was uneven. Like I said, I hated Zooey Deschanel but Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake were fine, and they certainly have the singing chops for the roles.

characters_bergens_birdgetUnfortunately the biggest surprise for me was the uneven animation. I love the felt feel to the character design on the trolls but did not like the design of the bergens. I know they are supposed to be the bad guys but I had a hard time watching them.

Most of the animation had a Lisa Frank 90s bright colors feel but then there were sections where the rendering felt cheap and surprisingly weak. Parts reminded me of low-budget fair like the Tinkerbell movies.

So, Trolls is passable entertainment. If you have small kids they will probably like it. It has some nice animation. It has a few fun songs but it also has some poor animation and annoying songs. It has characters I liked and didn’t like. It’s just a mixed bag movie if I ever saw one.

It’s certainly a million times better than last year’s Home so there is that to be grateful for.

Overall Grade- C

Check out my youtube review

Advertisements

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) Review

your-name3So today I couldn’t sleep so I decided to see the recent Japanese hit Kimi no Na Wa or Your Name for English viewers. This film has made $158 million US dollars in Japan and after watching it I can see why. It is a total and complete delight and one of the best romances I have seen in years.

Your name is by director Makoto Shinkai and it is about a girl named Mitsuha who lives in a country town. One day she laments on her boring life and how she wishes she could be a handsome boy in Tokyo. Well, wouldn’t you know the next day she ends up in the body of a boy she’s never met in Tokyo named Taki.

your-name6This starts a first act that we’ve seen before in movies like Freaky Friday but it really works. Both Taki and Mitsuha have very different lives aside from being different genders (which they mine for great comedy). They are from different classes, have different types of friends and even eat different foods. They don’t just settle for easy antics but think of small details like Mitsuha’s awkwardness paying for Taki’s expensive meals.

your-name4What also makes it very clever is they switch back and forth each day so that keeps it fresh. They start to leave notes for each other on their hands, in notebooks and on their cell phones. And through living each other’s lives they become good friends. It’s all very clever.

Then we get to the final acts and the film takes a bit more of a serious tone but I won’t give any more of that away. Needless to say both parts completely worked for me. Both Taki and Mitsuha were so likable and the tension and stress built naturally. It reminded me a lot of Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars which I also LOVE.

your-name5The animation is completely stunning with lots of emphasis on light giving a hopeful tone even when things looked grim. They also managed to make both the countryside and city look like a fantasy world because that’s kind of what it is to the characters living in different bodies.

your-name-2I know some people just don’t like anime as a rule and if that is you it’s a real shame. Because I honestly believe a movie like Your Name has something for everyone. It is funny, sweet, romantic and tense at times. It has great characters and a creative story. It’s beautifully animated and has wonderful music from a band called Radwimps.

It’s a real achievement for Makoto Shinkai who did everything from the writing, directing, editing and everything else. Wonderful!

Overall Grade A+