TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies #238: Trolls & Doctor Strange

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TROLLS

***

Trolls (film) logo.png

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

Now, I’ve already looked at the soundtrack for this film and gave a review on a Music Room post and I did like a lot of the songs from the soundtrack but even then, I said in my review that even if the soundtrack was good that don’t mean the movie is going to be as good and I have to judge the movie on its’ own merits and…

…yeah, the movie is just meh.

I really had a ton of big problems with this movie but just like the characters in this movie, I’m gonna think positive about this film…at least for the first half of this review because there are things I did genuinely enjoy about this movie.

First up, the soundtrack, as I said before, is a really solid soundtrack, the covers and the original songs mesh together very nicely and they are good songs.

Second, the animation is very nice, it’s bright, colorful, vibrant and very creative, this is what holds the movie together, the beautiful animation that takes new creative twists and turns all throughout the film.

Third, the voice work is nicely done, you can’t go wrong with having Anna Kendrick in your film and Justin Timberlake does pretty good in this too, I was surprised by some of the other voice actors in this like I had no idea that was Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the king in the film, I really thought it was Josh Gad or Clark Duke at first, I didn’t know that was Mintz-Plasse until the credits came up. Same with Christine Baranski playing the villain of the film, had no idea it was her until the credits.

Fourth, there are clever gags and homages in there like in the beginning of the film, I liked that the fake trolls they use to distract the Bergens are the actual toy trolls themselves, that was a clever little gag.

Lastly, I will say the movie is clever enough that it doesn’t result to those horrendous clichés such as the liar revealed or separating the two main characters after a fight, at least the movie wasn’t that desperate…sort of…I’ll talk more about that later.

Where the movie fails is everything else…

For starters, the story makes no sense whatsoever. First off, the trolls lived in this tree and yet, nobody noticed how the Bergens built this whole city around this tree and nobody bothered to say “hey, why don’t we get the hell out of here?”. Second, the Bergens can only be happy if they eat trolls? What depressing town do these people live in? Third, the chef becomes the villain of the film because she gets banished? She couldn’t take her skills and get a better job?

But by far the laziest thing this story does is by pulling one cliché that I hate, the double crosser, because let me tell you something, the way this movie does it is just pathetic. Russell Brand plays a healer troll and for the majority of the film, he seems like everybody else, calm, cool, collected. And then towards the third act, he just sells the trolls out and literally tells them “I’m selling you out”…why? Because he doesn’t want to get eaten….that’s it….not because he’s hated the other trolls, not that he hates negativity, he just doesn’t want to get eaten….this is literally the stupidest reason for a character to turn into a bad guy ever. He doesn’t want to get eaten….what the hell do you think the other trolls are thinking dude? Do you think they want to get eaten too? No, this is literally the stupidest reason for turning evil ever, it’s terrible, it’s pathetic, and it’s just so damn lazy. This is how you can tell that the writers did not care about being smart with the story at all.

Another big problem with this movie is that the comedy in this is terrible, it’s not creative clever comedy all around, 75% of the jokes in this are nothing but topical humor and just using lines such as Yolo and Oh Snap and twerking…they fucking put twerking into this movie, goddammit. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more stupider, there are characters there who are just there to speak in autotune and that’s it and fart glitter, there is literally a troll in this movie that farts glitter, this is how lazy the attempts at not just comedy are but how to appeal to adults.

Which leads into the biggest problem with this movie and why I’m so disappointed in this movie…DreamWorks has given up trying to appeal to everybody. I know that a lot of people aren’t going to say this but I have to, DreamWorks Animation has become nothing but a panderhouse, they don’t care about appealing to everybody anymore, they only care about shutting the kids up and don’t care about what everybody else wants. They saw how underwhelming the box office results of the FAR superior How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 were and said “oh, you folks don’t want a seriously well made animated film that everybody can enjoy? Well fuck you then, nothing but kiddie films from now on.”

And that’s the problem with the studio over the years, DreamWorks has more than proven their worth as an animated studio and as a competitor to Disney and Warner Bros. but with movies like Turbo, Home, and now this, they’ve lost that edge, they don’t care about making an actual good movie, all they care about is having a new franchise to make money off of regardless of quality…wait a minute, who else put this movie out?

OH MY GOD, that’s right, Fox still distributes these movies. You know, honestly, it would not surprise me if Fox forced them to make these movies considering that they’ve done the same destruction of an animated studio that they did with Blue Sky Studios. It makes sense that a studio that has destroyed the appeal of Garfield, Alvin & The Chipmunks, and Fat Albert and has run its’ Ice Age & Rio franchises have been beaten to submission like a dead horse would do the same thing with a once credible studio like DreamWorks. Since Fox and DreamWorks came together, that studio has not been the same and Trolls is another example of a once really good studio that has failed to find success with actually good quality films like How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3. Maybe it is a good thing that DreamWorks Animation paired with Universal, maybe then they can find that magic again they had in the 2000s.

Bottom line, Trolls is an underwhelming mess, yeah, it’s got good animation and great music and a good voice cast but like with Rock Of Ages which had a kickass soundtrack too, there’s nothing else there, the story is terrible, the motivations of the characters are bad, the whole film is a disjointed mess and yet another misfire from DreamWorks, a studio that should be better than this.


DOCTOR STRANGE

****

Doctor Strange, wearing his traditional costume, coming out from a flowing energetic portal, and around him the world and New York turning around itself with the film's cast names above him and the film's title, credits and billing are underneath.

Synopsis:

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Review:

It’s once again Disney and Marvel doing what Disney and Marvel do best, making a kick-ass and fun as hell comic book movie that continues the storyline in the cinematic universe by adding a new and exciting element to the story that’s as great as the other characters’ stories.

The movie itself is really good, it’s not another Guardians Of The Galaxy or The Avengers but it’s on the same level as Ant-Man and Captain America, it’s a good fun comic book movie with a lot of interesting and creative aspects to it.

Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as Stephen Strange, he’s got this great blend of Dr. House from House and Tony Stark and he has the great comedic timing added to his great overall performance as Strange. Tilda Swinton was really good as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor is great as Mordo, and Benedict Wong playing Wong had a bigger presence that worked than I thought he would.

On the negative side of the cast, Rachel McAdams, a really solid actress, is kind of wasted in this, she’s just there to be the predictable female love interest of the movie but she has no real personality to her except that she has the on-off relationship with Strange and she doesn’t really do that much in the movie except for one scene where she operates on Strange after a fight, that’s it.

Also, Mads Mikkelsen, a great actor and I’m glad to see him getting more work, he’s pretty much the typical lackluster Marvel villain who only has one motive, you guessed it, take over the world…

Yeah, there is nothing else about this bad guy except that he wants to rule over all of the worlds and once again, this is another lackluster Marvel villain with only one motivation to him and that’s it, he’s a one dimensional Saturday morning bad guy.

The true highlights of the film come from the gorgeous and groundbreaking visuals, the visuals in this movie are absolutely phenomenal, this movie really stretches the boundaries of what can be done and does whatever it takes to give us some amazing imagery that we haven’t seen done before. It’s like Inception, except done much better. Also, the action sequences are gorgeous to look at, the third act action scene set up in reverse is such a cleverly handled and well direction action scene and once again, Marvel creates another cleverly made third act action scene.

The script is also nicely done too, it helps to have the director Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who with the Sinister movies have proven they are really good scriptwriters and obvious fans of the Doctor Strange character to make the film work. It also helps to have Community and Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon to have punch up dialogue for the more comedic scenes that also work well. Even the first post credit scene with Strange and Thor setting up Thor: Ragnarok is nicely done. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harmon had a hand in writing the final action scene between Strange and Dormammu because that final confrontation between the two is one of the funniest and well handled third act action climaxes ever put to screen.

Even though a lot about Doctor Strange is very formulaic and your typical Marvel origin story, the film is still a really solid and really entertaining movie. Once again, Marvel proves how to make these movies right that the DC movies we’ve gotten so far have done so wrong. These movies find the perfect blending of lighter moments and darker moments and blends them together very well, they know that how to keep these stories simple and easier to understand without making it convoluted and dull like what Batman V Superman ended up becoming.

Doctor Strange works because it balances the revolutionary visual effects with a simple story, a really solid cast led by Cumberbatch, great action scenes, great music by Michael Giacchino, and a great well written script. The film doesn’t reach high levels in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s not a film on the caliber of The Avengers & Guardians Of The Galaxy but it doesn’t need to be, it just needs to remember why the other Marvel movies worked and this movie definitely does that. Another exciting and well appointed addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Posted in TATM: Talkin' About The Movies

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