Trolls World Tour (2020) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Here come more trolls

Animation feature film “Trolls World Tour”, which is an expected sequel to “Trolls” (2016), is packed with lots of colorful and fluffy stuffs in addition to various of types of music as required. During its first 30 minutes, I enjoyed its bright colors and lively musical moments to some degree, but I eventually got tired just like when I eat one whole packet of Skittles, and my mind phlegmatically followed its thin narrative without much care or attention, while occasionally brightened a bit by its fairly competent soundtrack.

The story starts at the point not long after the happy ending of “Trolls”. As some of you probably remember, our plucky troll heroine Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) became the Queen of her troll kingdom after heroically saving it and its trolls along with her accidental friend Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake), and she is eager to go through another fun and joyful day of music and dance along with many other trolls except Branch, who can sing and dance but still remains over-cautious as before.

And then there comes an unexpected letter sent from a region beyond the kingdom. It turns out that there are other kinds of trolls out there, and Poppy’s father reluctantly reveals an ancient secret hidden from Poppy and many other trolls for a very long time. Once upon a time, there were six different clans of trolls which respectively represented six different music genres, and they harmoniously co-existed together at first, but there later came a dispute which eventually resulted in the mutual separation of these six clans.

The dispute at that time was involved with six powerful magical strings, which were respectively taken by each clan in the aftermath of that dispute. When these magical strings are used together for music performance, they can exert a significant power over every troll at the performer’s will, and that is why they have been coveted by Barb (Rachel Bloom), a sour and ambitious queen who is the leader of the Hard Rock Trolls. As shown from the prologue scene, she has already invaded the marine kingdom of the Techno Trolls and then acquired their magical string, and now she is ready to invade the other Troll kingdoms.

Despite the warning from her father and Branch, Poppy does not suspect much as reading that letter which was incidentally sent by Barb. She innocently thinks she and Barb can be good friends together, so she instantly embarks on her journey toward the Hard Rock kingdom along with Branch, who agrees to accompany her because, well, he has not yet confessed his growing affection to Poppy.

As Poppy, Branch, and some other trolls bounce from one spot to another, the film provides several good moments of different musical flavors as demanded. At one point, Poppy and Branch arrive in the kingdom of the Country Trolls, and, to our little amusement, they belatedly come to realize that they and their music are not so welcomed by Delta Dawn (voiced by Kelly Clarkson) and other Country trolls, who prefer to perform your average country music song filled with lots of bitterness and melancholy.

At least, Poppy and Branch later come to get an expected help from a troll name Hickory (voiced by Sam Rockwell). Although Branch has some reservation on this laid-back troll dude from the beginning, Hickory turns out to be useful for them in more than one occasion, so Branch lets Hickory accompany him and Poppy in their ongoing journey.

Besides alternating between Poppy and Branch’s journey and Barb’s nearly unstoppable pursuit of musical power, the film also pays some attention to a subplot involved with one of Poppy’s close troll colleagues. What is eventually revealed later in the story along with the kingdom of Funk Trolls is contrived to say the least, but you may enjoy the amusing cameo voice performances from Mary J. Bilge and George Clinton.

In the end, everything in the story culminates to a big and predictable action/musical climax sequence, and you may get more tired or excited, depending on your tolerance on bright colors and chirpy music. Sure, I do not mind good music regardless of its genre (I often prefer classic music and film score, by the way), and I am also well aware of the importance in tolerance and acceptance, but I must say that the soundtrack of the film often feels tiresome in its adamantly bright and fluffy package.

Anyway, the main voice cast members try to energizes the film as much as they can. While Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake complement each other well, Rachel Bloom has some juicy fun as the main villain of the story, and Sam Rockwell and Kelly Clarkson also bring a substantial amount of humor and personality to their thankless supporting roles.

Competently handled by director Walt Dohrn, “Troll World Tour” is not a bad animation film at all, but I cannot recommend it because I saw several better ones during this year. For example, there is a French animation film called “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (2019), and it is not only more colorful and imaginative but also more impressive and touching on the whole. I will not stop you from watching “Trolls World Tour” if you really enjoyed “Trolls”, but I would rather strongly recommend to watch “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” right now.

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