From the creators of Shrek comes the most smart, funny, irreverent animated comedy of the year, DreamWorks' Trolls. This holiday season, enter a colorful, wondrous world populated by hilariously unforgettable characters and discover the story of the overly optimistic Trolls, with a constant song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have trolls in their stomach. Featuring original music from Justin Timberlake, and soon-to-be classic mash-ups of songs from other popular artists, the film stars the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Gwen Stefani, and many more. DreamWorks' TROLLS is a fresh, broad comedy filled with music, heart and hair-raising adventures. In November of 2016, nothing can prepare you for our new Troll world.
In spite of hitting the silver screen twenty years too late, 'Trolls,' the animated adaptation of a toy line that hasn't been popular since the mid-1990s, delivers an unexpectedly enjoyable and infectiously funny comedy adventure. Against all odds — because let's admit, this should not have been as good as it is — Erica Rivinoja's ('South Park' series, 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2') story is sure to brighten even the grumpiest sourpuss in the audience. It delights with a surprisingly mature and relatable plot following the overly jubilant, sickeningly optimistic Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), princess of the trolls who fails to appreciate the safety and security her kingdom has enjoyed for the last twenty years. With a little help from Kendrick, however, the buoyantly enthusiastic, pink-haired mythical creature is a likeable ball of sunshine who lives up to her name, spreading her endless supply of cheer by breaking into a perfectly choreographed song and dance routine, even when under fatal threat by various forest beasts.
Of course, as any good hero's journey tale should be, Poppy learns a hard lesson when faced with the consequences of her actions — being an optimistic go-getter about life's challenges isn't the only means for overcoming them. Justin Timberlake joins the fray as a cross between ally and mentor, except not a very supportive one with a short-fuse temper. The joke here must be that the singer-turned-actor seems like the poster boy for exuding confidence and positivity in real life. Disregarding the warnings of the gray, crotchety Branch (Timberlake) as the paranoid delusions of an excessively cautious survivalist, Poppy readies her kingdom to celebrate the anniversary of their escape from the hungry clutches of the ogre-like Bergens by throwing the loudest, most extravagant, rambunctious party ever. As expected, the jubilee, which includes a fireworks display, draws the attention of a particularly nasty Bergen known only a Chef (Christine Baranski wickedly chewing on every line with voracious delight).
With the two setting out to rescue Poppy's kidnapped friends from being the main dinner course, the story takes a familiar odd-couple road towards a predictable conclusion. Some of Poppy's can-do assuredness will inevitably rub off on Branch's glum pessimism, and it does in a somewhat disappointingly foreseeable fashion. But the story also does so with a minor twist as a tidy bit of Branch's cynicism and sarcasm leaves a mark on Poppy. Then again, coming close to being eaten and realizing you are the reason for it to begin with can have its toll on even the most absurdly happy-go-luck amongst us. It's admirable to see a children's animated feature showing that maintaining an optimistic outlook during life's most punishing obstacles is a boon, being cautious and wary of unknown dangers comes with its share of blessings as well. While the little tykes lull themselves into a daze, hypnotized by a smorgasbord of garishly loud colors and various pop-tunes, parents can take comfort that the movie is more than just pretty visuals.
In 'Trolls,' directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn retain interests with a subplot that touches on the plot's true central theme. Since the two unlikely friends with hair that can grow to unspecified lengths at command can't complete their rescue mission alone, they recruit the help of an especially unhappy, self-deprecating Bergen named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), a scullery maid secretly in love with Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Their startlingly cute love affair opens doors for some fairy tale allusions that successfully adds to the film's overall charm. More importantly, it plants the notion of happiness as an internal attribute that can be suppressed or denied rather than being achieved by material possessions or food. Cliché as it may be, one that adults might feel as though being hammered by the filmmakers, it's a concept that bears repeating for kids growing in a world that doesn't appear to be living by that philosophy. A film inspired by the toy franchise was a long time coming, but it's nice to see the wait was worth it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'Trolls' to Blu-ray as two-disc combo pack dubbed "Party Edition" with a flyer for a Digital HD Copy. The Region Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9 inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a glossy slipcover.
The package also includes promo codes for a mobile app and an online game for kids. Another flyer detailing the disc's "party mode" explains that when the feature is turned on, viewers can join in a sing-a-long, repeat specific phrases during "Troll Talk" and wait to be prompted for "Hug Time." The feature also includes red, green, yellow and blue button prompts for even more interactive fun.
A couple skippable trailers kick things off before switching to the standard menu screen with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
Bursting with glittering, jubilant delights and a feast for the eyes, the CG animated film debuts on Blu-ray with expected results from a production of this caliber: pure reference quality through and through!
From the opening moments, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode explodes on the screen with a sumptuous and gorgeous sundry of colors, immediately setting the tale with a sprightly, high-spirited tone that amazingly never lets down until the end credits. Primaries are intentionally garish and flashy erupting with energy, but much of the photography places a bit more emphasis on the secondary hues. Every scene comes alive with richly-saturated pastels and flamboyant neons, which remain strong even when certain moments seem dour or gloomy. Adding to the photography's energetic feel, spot-on contrast delivers pitch-perfect whites while lavishing the rest of the frame with deep, luxurious blacks, providing the image with an impressive three-dimensional appearance.
Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the freshly-minted digital transfer displays razor-sharp definition and resolution from beginning to end. Whether in extreme wide shots or close-ups, the tiniest item and detail in the distance is plainly visible, which adds to the video's 3D-like quality. Every hair and fiber in the felt fabric, done as part of the story's scrapbook style, is extraordinarily distinct, giving the visuals a stunningly beautiful lifelike appeal. Overall, the HD presentation is simply breathtaking.
Given the story's rambunctious nature, filled with flamboyantly rowdy and exuberant musical numbers, I'm surprised the film doesn't dazzle as effectively as its visuals. That's not to say the DTS-HD MA soundtrack doesn't deliver in terms of quality because it surely does. Only, the rears are seldom employed except for a couple choice action sequences. Those scenes apply some light, subtle atmospherics or specific noises discretely pan into the sides, expanding the soundfield somewhat. Overall, the surrounds are not used with more consistency, even during the loudest, most rambunctious moments. For a majority of the runtime, the back room is silent and unfortunately feels lacking.
The animated film is mostly a front-heavy design, which is where the lossless mix truly shines and is sure to engross young viewers. Exhibiting superb detailing and fidelity in the mid-range, the track crowds the screen with various ambient effects, spreading across all three channels with excellent balance. Each song and dance erupts with outstanding room-penetrating clarity between each instrument and note while the vocals remain distinct and precise during the many high points. With an appreciably robust and potent low-end, the movie delivers a weighty, rollicking presence that'll keep the party going, digging below 20Hz on a few occasions (bass chart)..
In spite of hitting the silver screen twenty years too late, 'Trolls,' the animated adaptation of a toy line that hasn't been popular since the mid-1990s, delivers an unexpectedly enjoyable and infectiously funny comedy adventure. Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Christine Baranski, the CG animated film is a delightful journey through seeing the brighter side of things, sure to brighten even the grumpiest sourpuss in the audience.
The Blu-ray arrives with a gorgeous, reference-quality picture quality and an excellent audio presentation. Supplements are somewhat light, but the "Party Mode" feature more than makes up for that, making the overall package recommended for the whole family.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.