“Trolls Band Together” marks DreamWorks’ attempt to inject new life into the beloved franchise, but as it ventures into uncharted animation territory, the series seems to be showing signs of fatigue. Headlined by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, the film embarks on a musical road trip with Branch and Poppy, reminiscent of its predecessor “Trolls World Tour.” This time, the duo must save Branch’s brother Floyd from the clutches of the pop band Velvet and Veneer, who are sapping his talent for their own gain.
While the movie makes commendable attempts to introduce fresh animation styles, it sometimes leans too heavily on nostalgia, particularly for 90s boy bands. The incorporation of classic tunes from the era, sung by Timberlake no less, offers a nostalgic trip for parents who grew up in that musical epoch. However, the film’s choices in this regard can at times come across as on-the-nose.
The narrative introduces interesting twists for the character of Branch, revealing his past as a member of the boy band BroZone, setting up a personal stake in the mission to rescue Floyd. This development provides a deeper layer to Branch’s character, exploring his history and relationships.
Yet, the film does seem to miss an opportunity to delve further into the rich tapestry of existing secondary characters. Instead, it introduces a new set of characters, potentially sidelining fan-favorites from previous installments. The dynamics and quirks that made the earlier films endearing are somewhat diluted in this latest addition.
Director Walt Dohrn, in his third outing with the Trolls franchise, and co-director Tim Heitz, take creative risks with the animation style. Characters like Velvet and Veneer are crafted in a blend of claymation and Max Fleischer-inspired designs, lending them a unique and visually striking appearance. Vacay Island is a feast for the eyes, with inhabitants reminiscent of Dr. Seuss creations mingling with Muppet-like characters. Branch and Poppy themselves undergo occasional 2D redesigns, a departure from DreamWorks’ customary computer animation style.
Despite these moments of visual inventiveness, “Trolls Band Together” occasionally feels like a rehash of its predecessor’s structure, with diminishing returns in terms of humor and musical quality. While franchises like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon have evolved into deeper, more complex narratives, Trolls remains steadfast in its commitment to vibrant colors, wacky characters, and infectious music. This approach, however, may be showing signs of wear and tear as the series matures.
In conclusion, “Trolls Band Together” introduces intriguing animation choices and character developments, but it may need to explore new creative avenues to reinvigorate the franchise. The film’s reliance on nostalgia, while appealing to some, could potentially limit its ability to attract new audiences. As DreamWorks continues to experiment with animation styles, there’s hope that future installments may strike a balance between honoring the franchise’s roots and venturing into uncharted territory.
Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, Stoick, Snotlout