The biggest film surprise opening this week is Eli Roth's inspiring horror comedy THANKSGIVING. Total fun showing that ghastly horror can be entertaining when it is delivered smartly and funny. Big ones like NAPOLEON and THE HUNGER GAMES prequel make their debut. The best feel-good film NEXT GOAL WINS deserves a mention and a look.
BELIEVER 2 (SOUTH KOREA 2023) ***
Directed by Baek Jong-yul
`Netflix’s latest South Korean original film is BELIEVER 2 a sequel to the 2018 crime action film BELIEVER. BELIEVER is a remake of the Jonny To Hong Kong action film DRUG WAR. The film is directed by Baek Jong-yul and the cast includes the return of lead actors and actresses.
The sequel follows Won-ho's (Cho Jin-woong reprising his role) investigation of looking for "Rak," who disappeared after Brian's (Cha Seung-won) incarceration while getting to the core of the elusive drug cartel. It is Lee that Won-ho is after, that he believes he can capture. At the start of the film, his supervisor takes him off the case saying that he does not know who Lee is or where he is, or even his gender.
This is the rare South Korean film that is shot in Norway. Being filmed in Norway, one can expect some stunning landscapes on display. The introduction of the two twin mute cooks adds a fresh element to an otherwise well-worn drug cartel detective and mouse chase movie genre. The film runs almost two hours, could be edited shorter but nevertheless moves at an acceptable pace. Director Baek ups the angst in the violence department with a new killer, a female who cannot hold her head up straight, from China, Baek ups the angst in violence department with Big Knife, an emotionless, chain-smog executioner who sports bad skin and rotten teeth, thick glasses and a penchant for decapitations. He concluded. The film suffers otherwise from the lack of both a strong narrative and a more solid plot that even new nuanced characters introduced into the film cannot make up for. The original BELIEVER in this respect is the better film.
BELIEVER 2, a Netflix original premiered at 28th Busan International Film Festival in the 'Korean Cinema Today - Special Premiere' section on October 5, 2023. It is available for streaming on Netflix this week from November 17, 2023.
BLOW UP YOUR LIFE (USA 2022) ***
Directed by Abby Horton & Ryan Dickie
The film begins with Jason Trumbo making a recording that introduces the film’s subject. Jason Trumbo is clearly distraught. The recording goes as such: My name is Jason Trumbo. I am a man on the run. I came across some files I was not supposed to. To keep them secret these people want me dead. This is my life This is my story. This is my life. This is my story! As expected, the film flashes back to tell Jason’s story from the very beginning.
The film is described as a comedy thriller and it plays as one. But a whistle-blower story and one from a large pharmaceutical company is quite serious and no joke. The fact that the film is played partly as a comedy unfortunately undermines the seriousness of the matter.
Jason (Jason Selvig), a disillusioned pharmaceutical employee, is fired after a drug-fueled social media post goes viral, but when he accidentally discovers a deadly opioid conspiracy hidden by his former boss (Davram Stiefler) he sets out to redeem himself. In this noir comedy-thriller set in the age of tech, Jason goes on the run as a reluctant whistleblower trying to expose the crime with the help of his computer-wiz cousin Charlie (Kara Young) and his journalist ex-girlfriend Priya (Reema Sampat), but the CEO (Ben Horner) at the heart of the scandal has other plans.
The dialogue could be funnier and comes across often as quite lame. “Shit. Shit. She. What am I to do?” Complains Jason to Charlie at one point.
The overall flaw of the film is that the whistleblower story lacks clout. It does not help that the film, as said, is constantly played lightly for laughs.
Jason Selvage barely passes as the lead. The actor has a good physique at least, as observable in the scene where he crouches down in the shower stall. Despite hard attempts, Selvage is unable to display distress or desperation, relying of the dialogue instead, the dialogue itself not being too good either.
BLOW UP YOUR LIFE has nothing that one has not seen or heard in real life with whistleblowers of big companies especially large pharmaceuticals. Snowden’s whistleblowing film is a case in point.
It does not help the film that the audience does not root for the main characters. In the film, Jason comes across as a glorified loser. He is fired from his job for going to social media with his “lah -di fucking dah” attitude after much partying. When he comes across the whistleblowing files, which he stole while repairing a friend’s computer, a friend who is working for the company, Jason is half-decided as to what to do and consults his friends. It would help if his character is strong, and Jason would blow the whistle for it is the right thing to do.
The film’s exciting parts include a fight in the car park and a car chase that place at night - all executed without too much aplomb or excitement, appearing to be inserted here for a filler and a little excitement.
BLOW UP YOUR LIFE is available VOD and opens on Prime Video Apple TV on Nov. 21
BOLIVAR (USA 2021) ***
Directed by Nell Teare
James Walsh and Nell Teare make a good-looking filmmaking team, Teare directing and co-writing with Walsh while both starring in the film as well. Teare plays the protagonist role of Maggie while Walsh plays Maggie’s handsome but troubled brother.
It has been three months since her mother’s death, and Maggie is struggling to keep her head above water; daydreams of childhood haunt her waking moments as she navigates a failing marriage, a neglected career and a father (Robert Pine) who will not engage with his own grief. On one particular morning, she is awakened by a pounding on her door. Her younger brother, Sonny (James Walsh) whom she has not seen since before her mother passed, shows up on her doorstep, unaware of their mother's death. Over the next week, Maggie walks a fine line between acceptance and becoming a tragedy herself, but Sonny’s return forces her to make sense of a reality that may not be what it seems.
“Why are you so cold?” asks Maggie’s ex at one point in the film. ‘I don’t know how else to feel,” comes her reply. The same question can be asked in the film why does it feel so cold, especially during the first half hour. “You need to be loved.” comes the reaction. In the next scene, Maggie meets someone who could be the person to love her.
There is nothing really wrong with the film as it plays safe. The only risk the director and scriptwriter take is the extensive use of flashbacks. What the audience learns about Maggie’s past, her emotions and her trauma are all told via flashbacks. there are too many of these resulting in the film feeling too disjointed. Also, when effort has been put into a single scan to have the mood built up, the work is destroyed by the sudden insertion of a flashback. In real life, everyone has problems. Everyone has to deal with the passing of a loved one. Everyone has a back sheep in the family. And almost everyone has a kid The problem Maggie faces looks like a common one, and one that is too common to create much excitement, and one that lacks a certain freshness. The film at least can claim to be one that is based on a credible premise. The most interesting parts of the film occur whenever Maggie’s crazy brother shows up, who often blames Maggie (this is quite funny - his way of reasoning) for all his troubles. Even their father says to him: “What is wrong with you? Your mother is sick and you are behaving like a fucking child.”
The film is called Bolivar because Port Bolivar is where Maggies’s family spent time there when her family dynamics got together. Port Bolivar is an unincorporated community located on the northern shore of the western tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, separated from Galveston Island by the entrance to Galveston Bay. The Bolivar Peninsula itself is a census-designated place, in Galveston County, Texas, and part of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area
BOLIVAR is available On Demand, Digital and DVD this week from November 14, available to rent and purchase on all major platforms, including AT&T U-Verse // DirecTV // Dish Network // Sling TV // Prime Video // AppleTV // Vudu // Xbox // Google Play and YouTube Movies. Not a bad film that took its time to be released on various platforms, The film has won awards at the Gulf Coast Film and Video Film Festival.
THE HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (USA 2023) ***
Directed By Francis Lawrence
Hooray for THE HUNGER GAMES. It brought (together with the TWILIGHT and DIVERGENT franchises) its distributor, film company Lions Gate to heights never achieved when its stock price was more than $30 a share. At the time of writing this review, the stock price has plummeted to below $10. Lions Gate has had minor successes with JOHN WICK and THE ILLUSIONIST films, and the only hope for the stock price to rise is for the company to be acquired. Lions Gate owns Starz, a minor streaming service.
THE HUNGER GAMES film series is composed of science fiction dystopian adventure films, based on The Hunger Games trilogy of novels by American author Suzanne Collins. The films are distributed by Lions Gate. The series has made box-office stars of many of its actors including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.
The new film, a prequel, has a modest budget for a dystopian sci-fi blockbuster of $100 million. Compare this to Disney’s THE MARVELS with a very risky budget of $250 million. Given the past history of Lions Gate, it is not surprising that they are playing it safe with the company in desperate need of another hit. Playing safe, the modest budget can be seen with a smaller number of stars not including Peter Linkage and Viola Davis. The main actor is a relative unknown Tom Blyth, a handsome and body-chiseled English actor, last seen in Terence Davies’ excellent BENEDICTION in 2021. Director Francis Lawrence returns as director. The result is a safe HUNGER GAMES film with the same look, atmosphere and feel as the franchise. Why change something that works? Why rock the boat? HUNGER GAMES fans should not be disappointed.
Years, before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Blyth), is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Ziegler), the female tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favour. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy Gray’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”
The film is a bit puzzling to follow as director Lawrence does not spend time to let the audience digest all the facts of the story But one can put the story together, nevertheless unless one wishes to read the novel or the synopsis before seeing the film. A certain amount of credibility is required though, as the heroes Coriolanus and Lucy Gray survive the greatest odds. The film also goes into the need to have civilized HUNGER GAMES, though the argument is not thoroughly convincing. The production is modest and effective with a good futuristic look, like London (as seen in the roundabout) in the future.
THE HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes opens the weekend of November 17th and hopes to gross $50 million in the opening weekend.
THE JOB OF SONGS (USA 2021) ***
Directed by Lila Schmitz
In Doolin, an isolated village teetering on the western edge of Ireland, a community of musicians seek joy and connection through music as they face a modernizing world.
The beauty of Count Clare is the film’s beautiful and astounding setting. The audience is told that it is a little island right out in the Atlantic and the film’s next shot shows the cliffs - with a warning sign - Dangerous cliff ahead.
The next scene takes the audience to the village of Doolin, in Clare County.
Tourists flock to the west coast of Ireland to take in the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, but the real treasure lies in the soulful, acoustic sounds wafting out of pubs and living rooms of Doolin, County Clare. Nobody knows the effect of music on people but without music, we have nothing, says a character at the start of the film, The denizens of this unspoiled coastal village of tight-knit neighbours and unlocked doors revel in the passion and history of their traditional folk songs, using music as a thread through generations to create community, connection, and joy.
THE JOB OF SONGS was made by a crew of three women, who are first-time feature filmmakers: LILA SCHMITZ (director, producer, editor), ANIKA KAN GREVSTAD (director of photography, producer), and FENGYI XU (producer). The film was made with the support of acclaimed documentarians double Oscar-winning writer-producer-director Bill Guttentag and Emmy and Grammy Award-winning documentarian Doug Pray. The film has screened at numerous prestigious International Film Festivals including DOC NYC, Galway Film Fleadh, Newport Beach Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, and many others. It won Best International Documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh.
The documentary works for its simple charm which celebrates the simple beauty of life, just like taking the time to observe a bird. The tradition of songs brought down from one generation cogeneration is clearly displayed in all its glory and importance. The people, of Doolinare older, though a few younger folk can seen in the background. People need to find a voice. When conversations get hot and heavy, these people say they should take up the song, One of the most beautiful songs heard in the film is called “Reel Me” about refugees.
The gloomy skies of the area contribute to depression. It is at this point of the film that the film undertakes a more somber tone. Since the cliffs have opened, there have been many suicides due to depression. An interviewer also talks about a song dedicated to his brother who died in a car accident just short of the age of 24. The case of a bit too much drinking is also addressed. The topic of grieving is also examined alongside the music,yet the music is beautiful with the pipes and lyrics of the songs. Charm and melancholy blend well together near the film's end, bringing the film to a memorable end.
THE JOB OF SONGS, running a mere 74 minutes, opens on digital platforms on November 21, 2023. The film has a running time of 74 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.
IN LOVE AND DEEP WATER (Japan 2023) **
Directed by Yûsuke Taki
The plot of this new original Netflix mystery comedy thriller is set on a massive luxury cruise ship. While at sea, the loyal butler Suguru, nicknamed ‘lightning rod’ and a mysterious woman named Chizuru cross paths as they try to uncover a murder mystery that occurs on the ship.
The premise sounds like the film that could be taken from an Agatha Christie murder mystery shot in an exotic setting where anyone (passenger or staff of the luxury cruise ship) could be the killer.
Unfortunately, everything goes wrong in this otherwise very silly and badly executed mystery whodunit. For one it is no longer a whodunit when the killer is revealed right during the first quarter of the film. The two main characters are supposed to form the love story but their meeting (their two partners have started cheating with each other) is too silly to make any sense. The protagonist is described as one with no pride. As the ship’s main butler, he apologizes for every single complaint and makes himself subject to ridicule and shame. The girl appears out of nowhere with evidence of her partner's cheating. How did she find him and get aboard the cruise ship? The two exhibit totally annoying behaviour.
Watching IN LOVE AND DEEP WATER is like taking a cruise ship vacation and being stuck with unpleasant fellow passengers who cannot be ridden. Worst still, the film runs over two hours, which is far too long for a mystery thriller comedy, least of all a terrible one.
IN LOVE AND DEEP WATER is opus on Netflix for streaming this week.
MAY DECEMBER (USA 2023) ***
Directed by Todd Haynes
Todd Haynes, the veteran director of more than a dozen critical hits from his best gay period coming-out drama FAR FROM HEAVEN (Haynes was nominated for Best Original Screenplay that he wrote) to his lesbian love story CAROL, practically a gay copy of David Lean’s masterpiece BRIEF ENCOUNTER, MAY DECEMBER is arguably director Hayne’s most controversial subject. However, pedophilia takes second place to another hidden agenda, one that is not really made crystal clear in the film, but one that audiences need to discover.
MAY DECEMBER is a black comedy-drama film directed by Todd Haynes from a screenplay by Samy Burch, based on a story by Burch and Alex Mechanik. It follows an actress. Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman) who travels to Georgia to meet and study the life of the controversial woman, Gracie (Julianne Moore) she is set to play in a film. It is loosely inspired by the story of Mary Kay Letourneau.
The premise of the film is set twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple with a large age gap buckles under the pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past. The woman Gracie has had sex with her Grade 7 student and while in prison, gave birth to twins. The twins are now grown up and it is the time for their graduation. The film is a slow burn which is puzzling as to what the film’s main aim is. It seems to question the awkwardness of people, and how they handle this peculiarity of nature. The question is who is the trusted one and who is the one that is stable. Gracie has been criticized as a mental mess for what she has done, but she apparently has all he life well organized together. or so it seems. The film examines her life in parallel to what is happening to her as her life is revealed in a film in which the actress will portray her.
The script takes a huge detour with the real story of Mary Kay Letourneau. She was imprisoned for underage sex and had her sentencing reduced on the condition that she did not see the boy again. But she did and was imprisoned with the original term while giving birth to the second daughter in prison. Though loose based on Lettourneau’s tabloid news, her story could have been totally dismissed from the credits, as too much liberty had been taken.
Credit should be given to Haynes for indulging in such a difficult topic, with a story examining the complexities of guilt, acceptance, awkwardness and true love. It is dangerous that the film does not condemn the fact that this is a case of underaged sex, and Gracie is truly guilty and that adolescents should be protected,
MAY DECEMBER, a Netflix original film, premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2023. It is scheduled to be released in select theaters in the United States on November 17, 2023, before streaming on Netflix on December 1, 2023.
NEXT GOAL WINS (USA 2023) ****
Directed by Taika Waititi
The underdog sports team gets a new coach who needs to redeem himself. This is not a new theme but one that has been used time and again in a sports feel-good film, the most recent being CHAMPIONS in which a former minor-league basketball coach played by Woody Harrelson is ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. So there was much trepidation when I read the theme of the new Taika Waititi film about a disgraced Dutch American soccer manager Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) leading a losing soccer team to victory. But this feel-good film by Waititi who shows ingenuity and brilliance works wonders. Waititi is a New Zealand director who became famous with little films like BOY, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, JOJO RABBIT, and blockbusters like THOR: RAGNAROK.
The film’s setting is American Samoa, which is an island out in the Pacific. The nation of American Samoa (population 45,000) was never going to be an international football powerhouse, but a 31-0 loss to Australia put them in the record books in the worst possible way. Dutch-American manager Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) lands in the slow-paced island community determined to inject footballing discipline into the team as they make a qualifying run for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The owner of the club has made the bet that his team would win just one goal. Hence the film title.
Michael Fassbender is a terrific actor and he shows his talent for comedy in this outing in which he comes across as not too bad. But the winning performances come from the Samoan actors playing the footballers. Though Fassbender is good, the discovery is Kaimana, who plays real-life team member Jaiyah. Like Jaiyah, Kaimana is a member of American Samoa's fa’afafine community and delivers a warm, deep, and commanding performance in every scene. Kaimana is a real revelation, able to make the audience cry and laugh simultaneously. The performance with Jaiyah, flicking her hair in the midst of an important match is plain hilarious. It is hard to believe that the film is based on true events and true characters like Jaiyah and Rongen, the actual characters shown at the end of the film during the closing credits.
Whether this is true or not, Rongen wears the T-shirt with the words Miyagi during the soccer qualifier. (Miyagi is the Japanese trainer in THE KARATE KID). There is a wax-on. wax-ff scene in the film too.
The film is based on the documentary by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison — where the pleasure comes from watching the characters on the pitch, Indigenous Samoan players who mostly sucked, mostly knew it, and still played their hearts out. But director Waititi also adds his magic touch. Instead of letting the second half of the climatic match play out the normal way, he infuses the flashback with a voiceover approach. The team manager has a hearty attack, actually a heat stroke, and faints during the second half of the match. When he gains consciousness, his son, also a player recounts the second half of the match giving his interpretation. Waititi’s film is also very, very funny.
NEXT GOAL WINS opens November 17th.
THE STONES AND BRIAN JONES (UK 2023) ***½
Directed by Nick Broomfield
From director Nick Broomfield comes BRIAN JONES AND THE STONES, a time-capsule documentary that explores the creative musical genius of Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones. The director Nick Broomfield had met Brian Jones on a train when he was 14. Broomfield described Jones as a friendly guy who said that he was a trainspotter. Who was to know, Broomfield said, that Brian Jones would be dead 6 years later. Brian Jones was the founder of the Rolling Stones, and at the time was more popular than the titular Mick Jagger. Jones gets most of the fan mail, more than Mick Jagger. Jones got around 60% while Jagger around 20% of the mail. Yet many to no one has heard of Brian Jones.
The doc BRIAN JONES AND THE STONES aims to change all that. The film, largely shot in black and white, at its best transports the audience back in time to the 60s and 70s at the height of the fame of the Stones.
Broomfield personalizes Jones with information about him and his parents. Parents want to see themselves in their children till they grow up enough to become individual personalities of their own, as mentioned early in the doc. His father was not happy with the son being in the band, especially not with long hair, and wanted him to have a proper job like himself. Jones was seen to be a joker but could get a bit aggressive if he did not get his way. Yet, he was always forgiven as he was such a nice guy.
In 1962, looking for members to form a blues band, Brian Jones posted a want ad, which led him to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Inspired by the title of a Muddy Waters’ song, Jones came up with the name “RollingStones.” Although he was the original fan favourite, Jones soon found himself overshadowed by Jagger and Richards who wrote their own songs, trading off Jones’ beloved blues for a more rock ‘n’ roll sound.
It was the Swinging Sixties – and Jones was living a life of sex, drugs and (reluctantly) rock ‘n’ roll. The film covers many areas – his strict parents, his serial girlfriends, his tumultuous days with “It Girl” Anita Pallenberg, his firing from the band, and his death less than a month later at age 27.
The film also mixes unseen archival footage with interviews. Bill Wyman appears on camera, pointing out how Jones’ skill as an instrumentalist gave songs like “Ruby Tuesday” and “Paint It, Black” their distinctive sound. Others offering thoughts off camera are Jagger, Richards, Charlie Watts, former girlfriends, schoolmates, friends, et al. On a sad note,
40 years after Jones died, a repentant letter from his father was discovered.
There are some marvellous performances captured in archive footage like the rendering of “Come On” by the Stones, their first hit.
THE STONES AND BRIAN JONES opens November 17 in Toronto (Hot Docs Cinema), Vancouver (Vancity), London and Waterloo!
THANKSGIVING (USA 2023) ****
Directed by Eli Roth
In interviews, Thanksgiving director Eli Roth promised his new film be an incredibly gory and satisfying R-rated slasher experience with creative and bloody kills. The film originates from the fake trailer from the film GRINDHOUSE.
The film begins appropriately with the film taking place in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Black Friday and the American Thanksgiving. As with many Black Friday specials, Right Mart, the big departmental store has got bargains galore, most notably the waffle toaster that everyone is clamouring about. It is 10 minutes before the store opens and there are hundreds of customers behind barricades, making the store opening the scene of a possible riot. Things are pushed to the limit when a couple of teens (VIPs) are allowed to enter early, as they’re related or close friends to the Right Mart’s owner. Through the glass, the teens tease those outside waiting resulting in the barricades broken down and the crows breaking into the store like a stampede out of control. Director Roth directs this scene with great skill and aplomb showing his prowess at editing, dialogue and sound. The sequence is also terribly hilarious and also serves as a satire for Black Friday America. Absolutely brilliant! The chaos also resulted in horror as many customers ended up killed not including a footballer who has his hand crushed in the stampede and a security guard’s head smashed face down into the broken glass of the store window.
This Black Friday incident, adds to the killer's motive for the Thanksgiving-themed murders. The film plays like a whodunit with the identity of the killer (very hard to guess) revealed at the very end.
Roth has proved his talent with gory films like the HOSTEL films and THE GREEN INFERNO. The first killing gives a new meaning to the phrase 50% off. The recent torture horror film SAW X did a good box-office number recently and this one should do well.
Co-written by Roth and Jeff Rendell, the film is well constructed with a slasher killing and a climax that takes place during the town’s Thanksgiving parade. As in the SAW films, the film has new and ingenuous scares that are both scary and fun enough to have the audience shriek and laugh at the same time. One gory scene involves the killer piercing the victim's ears with corncob skewers. If that is not sufficient to push the film towards the R-rated limit the trampoline scene in which a victim falls and bounces off the trampoline that has spikes shoved through it will surely do the job. While SAW X is deadly serious, THANKSGIVING is serious fun.
The young cast as well as veterans like Patrick Dempsey and Gina Gerson are all nothing short of fantastic having fun in their roles as well.
Horror films have taken over Christmas (BlACK CHRISTMAS) and Thanksgiving t(his film). Easter would be the obvious next target. THANKSGIVING has likely the best advertising caption on its poster - There will; be no seconds. What will come next for Easter? KILLER BUNNIES? ‘There are only going to be bad eggs this Easter’ could be the caption.
TROLLS BAND TOGETHER (USA 2023) **
Directed by Walt Dohrn
The 2D animated CGI combination feature TROLLS BAND TOGETHER is the third of the TROLLS franchise and basically Justin Timberlake’s baby, spearheading the project. involving himself in the music and starring (his voice) in it. It is aimed mainly at smaller kids, who from the film’s preview screening, allowed family, the children were simply delighted with the product, even though there is a lack of imagination in the story or dialogue with most of the latter depending on silly one-liners and punch lines. The review could do the same with a line like the film going in one direction, unfortunately, the wrong one.
The film begins with a generally uninspired and unfunny first performance of the BroZone, a boy troll band delivering a failed unison performance that led to the band’s breaking up.
After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, (if one can remember) Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake voting in a griller high-pitched voice) are now officially, finally, a couple! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favourite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (Golden Globe-nominated electropop sensation Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André; Sing 2), Spruce (Grammy winner Daveed Diggs; Hamilton) and Clay (Grammy winner Kid Cudi; Don't Look Up). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hadn't seen his brothers since. But when Branch's bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains--Velvet (Emmy winner Amy Schumer; Trainwreck) and Veneer (Grammy winner and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells; The Book of Mormon)--Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.
The film lacks the existence of an evil or at least a terribly funny villain. The success of the film appears to depend on the cuteness of the trolls, just like Universal’s Illuminata films depend on the cuteness of their Minions in the DESPICABLE ME franchise The trolls thus appear in an assortment of colours including different hair colours and styles, the hair at least allowing the audience to distinguish one troll from the other. The BroZone brothers sport different accents, as they are played by white and coloured actors, which might confuse the littler audience. The film is colourful enough with a myriad of colours, especially in troll city and other settings of the story. When the BroZone performs as in the other choreographed sequences, the animated choreography is cute and synched enough to delight the audience, both kids and adults alike. The animation is said to be inspired by the animated classics of The Beatles’ THE YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968) and Walt Disney’s FANTASIA.
TROLLS BAND TOGETHER has already been released in international markets, starting with Denmark on October 12, 2023, and is scheduled to be released in the United States and locally in Canada and Toronto on November 17.