A hair-raising adventure through musical snobbery: BRIAN VINER reviews Trolls World Tour
Trolls World Tour (Rakuten TV, U)
Verdict: Inventive and fun
The Iron Mask (various streaming platforms, 12A)
Verdict: A spectacular mess
There’s no snobbery quite like music snobbery. Dare to profess an admiration for the work of Phil Collins or Bono, let alone Justin Bieber, and in some circles you will be treated like the guttersnipe who gatecrashed the banquet.
In Trolls World Tour, those clever people at DreamWorks take this premise and rather brilliantly run with it, dividing the troll universe into half a dozen separate tribes, each of which worships a different form of music: pop, classical, techno, funk, country and hard rock.
Each tribe exists in blissful ignorance of the others.
In Trolls World Tour, those clever people at DreamWorks take this premise and rather brilliantly run with it, dividing the troll universe into half a dozen separate tribes, each of which worships a different form of music. Pictured: Poppy and Branch
The pop trolls don’t know anything about the country trolls — never the Shania Twain shall meet, you might say — and the classical music trolls with their bouffant hairdos in the style of a bewigged Mozart or Beethoven get along quite happily without ever encountering the techno trolls and their thumping drum machines.
In the enchanting 2016 original, Trolls, Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) returned trollkind to its near-perpetual state of happiness by saving it from the miserable Bergens, who could only feel happy by eating a troll.
But now there’s a new existential threat, in the form of hard-rock leader Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), fierce mohawked daughter of King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne, no less), who knows about the other tribes and wants to bring them all under her baleful musical influence by dragooning them into a ‘one-nation’ world tour.
Her particular nemesis is Poppy and her pop trolls.
Barb hates them for their empty lyrics, ‘which crawl into your head like an ear-worm’.
Hard-rock leader Queen Barb (pictured) knows about the other tribes and wants to bring them all under her baleful musical influence by dragooning them into a ‘one-nation’ world tour
Needless to add, this is one of those family films, ostensibly perfect for lockdown, from which young viewers may meander away, leaving adults chortling in delight.
Children will love the vibrant animation but many of the one-liners will fly over their heads.
For the rest of us, there really are some cherishable gags, and even the corniest of them will raise a smile — ‘I’m a vegan/ I don’t have no beef with them,’ sings a hiphop troll, one of the rogue bounty hunters (others include smoothjazz trolls, reggae trolls and yodelling trolls) recruited by Barb in her bid for world domination.
There is further pleasure just in a scan of the cast list: American funk king George Clinton and soul queen Mary J. Blige lend their voices, as do Sam Rockwell and James Corden.
Significantly, too, this is arguably the first true post-coronavirus movie, in the sense that it’s a major Hollywood film which won’t now get any kind of theatrical release and has instead been repackaged purely for on-demand home viewing.
It’s a shame it will be denied the cinema treatment; it would be a blast to see it on a big screen. But these are unprecedented and unsettling times, from which Trolls World Tour, even in our own living rooms, is a delicious distraction.
Sadly there is nothing delicious about The Iron Mask , a comedy-fantasy that you can hardly believe someone bothered to make — even though it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured) and Jackie Chan
Sadly there is nothing delicious about The Iron Mask, a comedy-fantasy that you can hardly believe someone bothered to make — even though it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan.
Rarely was so much energy ever expended on such a spectacular mess, in which the dialogue vies with the acting as the worst thing in it, both being narrowly trumped by the plot.
It’s like a Carry On film, minus the giggles and dated charm, crossed with a terrible remake of Clash Of The Titans.
Where shall I start?
Jason Flemyng plays an 18th-century English cartographer whose improbable adventures take him from Moscow to Peking (the film is a Russian-Chinese co-production).
Meanwhile, amid bizarre tangents involving wizards and dragons, the kidnapped tsar Peter the Great must escape from the Tower of London, which is governed by a mutton-chopped Schwarzenegger barely even bothering to act.
Honestly, you’ll yearn for Sid James.
Charles Dance pops up, too, as an English aristocrat, trying forlornly to grapple the script into submission, as does Rutger Hauer, who deserved much better in one of his last roles before his death last summer.
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