Trollland is property of The Asylum
Hello, Spongey here.
You all know know of Video Brenqudo, right? That studio that does a lot of those animated rip off movies? I never truly covered one mostly because they’ve been talked about a lot and I never had much to add,
They’ve given us a lot of materiel but it seems like that has come to an end as they finally got sued up the ass so much that they hand to bow out for good. Kind of bittersweet in a weird way.
Not sure how the other rip off companies like Sparkplug are doing but I do know we still have The Asylum. They are the kings of live action rip offs and have become known for the Sharknado films.
Why do I bring this up? Because The Asylum saw the void that Video Brenquedo left and wanted to fill it in. That’s right, in 2016 they decided to make their animated ripoff films. Really. They started with Izzie’s Way Home (a Finding Nemo/Dory ripoff) and just this month they had one about talking cars.
Oh come on, you’re already ripping off movies that have been ripped off before?!
Of course, I was really interested to see how this odd turn turned out. Asylum has gotten better in making some So Bad It’s Good movies, or at least some self aware ones. Perhaps they can make some enjoyably bad animated films.
Maybe we’ll look at the other two someday but for now we’re looking at their 2nd attempt from late 2016 that is about trolls. Gee, can’t imagine what this one is ripping off. I’d like to tell you more but there’s no information on this thing.
Seriously, the writers and director have this listed as their debut and the same goes for most of the animators! At best, some worked on Dory’s Way Nemo. …Wait..
You think they’d get more of the many people that work at this studio (which relies a lot on Special Effects, by the way) to do this but nope. Perhaps they wanted fresh eyes for their animated film but still, it’s pretty clear this was done by first timers.
But when you get past all the stigma, how is the movie itself? Since I’m here, you might have an idea but let’s find out anyway.
This, is Trollland
(Or Trollz as IMDB calls it)
The movie opens with narration telling us the history of Trolls. They lived in their little place, bored out of their skulls. Because video games hadn’t been invented yet, they fixed that by pranking humans.
They eventually figured out the Trolls were doing that and simply did it back, turning pranking into the Trolls way of life.
“The humans have forgotten we still exist”:
Somehow. Also, according to this backstory, the Trolls started it because they were bored. Riveting. Plus it shoots down what the movie tries to do later.
We truly open at a camp as the trolls are pranking this one guy who has dedicated his life to trying to catch the trolls. He gets interrupted because he’s called back to camp as he works for them doing….stuff.
By the way, the girl who tells him he has been called back, can’t act at all. Deep in the cave where these trolls live, we meet our protagonist Fenn who of course is the one troll who doesn’t like pranking. His asshole sister doesn’t like that so she’s an asshole to him all the time.
She wants to be the queen of “Prankapolza” this year and the Chief of the trolls (voiced by Dick Van Dyke…somehow) informs us that it’s about to wrap up for the year. While he drones on about nothing, let’s talk about the aspect I really wanted to tear into: The animation.
How do I say this? Oh I got it: This is some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’m not kidding. Want proof? Here’s a small taste.
Yeah. But honestly, I can’t totally sell the bad-ness of the animation to you in stills. Go find the trailer and it’ll give you a better idea. See, the models are bad but not the worst, aside from a few shots of some trolls, especially Fenn. (The one we follow the most).
But everything else…oh my. The backgrounds are either extremely poorly renderied or full on stock images, which the characters never fit into naturally. But that’s nothing compared to the actual character animation.
The characters are constantly clipping through things and their movements are incredibly jittery, or limited. But worst of all, their mouths almost NEVER sync up with what they are saying.
That’s if their mouths open at all. Seriously, a lot of the time they just barely open, making the trolls look like puppets. I know this is Direct to Video but even those kind of movies looked better by 20-freaking-16 when this came out.
I’ve seen copies of Izzie’s Way Home at major stores and if I see this there too, I’ll be mad since something of THIS quality can be legally purchased in stores. I’ll say more as we go on as we have to get back to the “plot”. But for now, here’s more sweet dreams.
Later, Fenn tells Jarvick to stop this as one day they might push the humans too far. He also preaches that some humans are kind. Yes, he already knows not all humans are bad and that is why he is a nice guy.
So when he bonds with one later, Fenn doesn’t really learn anything new. That is like the opposite of how you do this kind of story. As cliché as it is to have the troll learn on his own that humans aren’t as bad as his peers say, it makes logical sense and is an interesting progression.
But nah, let’s just add to this characters’ bland-ness. By the way, we are told later he is supposed to be “Young” but he sounds like a grown ass adult. It’s kind of hilarious.
Jarvick doesn’t listen because she’s a bitch (Guess who the worst character is) so Fenn goes outside for a walk. Because he was stupid enough to walk out in the open, the animators place Fenn’s model on Olaf’s hand, I mean he picks him up.
Fenn escapes easily making this scene entirely pointless. We then meet our main kid Hayden, who sounds even more like an adult than Fenn does. At least Fenn doesn’t look that young, this is clearly a kid model but he sounds so…not a kid, it’s amazing.
He’s getting bullied by Beast Boy (No really, that’s Greg Cipes as the main bully) and his goons, but they are pointless so I don’t care. They just establish that Hayden is lonely, otherwise they are generic bullies.
But then the counselor sees this and chews them out. Holy shit, the adults aren’t useless for once! Okay, that’s one point for this movie. ONE.
Hayden actually gets caught in a trap but Fenn helps him out. Of course he thinks Fenn is a monster until he just explains what the real deal is. This whole scene is done with close ups on their faces which just highlights the terrible lip sync.
Keep in mind, this was made in English, it’s not a dub. It doesn’t get that excuse.
The two talk it out hit it off right away. I’d complain about the rushed-ness of this but that’s the least of the problems going on here. That night the animation gets even worse as we see Hayden’s nearly unfinished Cabin, then we see this place at night.
Ugh. He sneaks out to meet Fenn and they just talk. Yeah, the first half of this movie is mostly just boring as the story and characters are just really typical. If the writing was the least bit good, these interactions could have worked, but as it is it’s just dull.
The distractingly (Fuck you Open Office, that’s a word) bad animation does not help.
The next morning he interacts with Fenn some more, and he wants to take Hayden to see his troll friends. Yep, they just met but he already trusts Hayen enough to do this. Thankfully, lunch interrupts them.
Meanwhile, Jarvick plans to take out the Water Tower and gets everyone super wet. Fenn happens to overhear it.
“This is so bad:”
He said it, not me.
She hears about what happened with Olaf and assumes he pranked him so she stops being quite as bitch-y, even as Fenn tells her it’s not a prank. Huh, he actually just told the truth instead of letting this become some liar revealed thing. The rest of this isn’t good enough for this to matter though.
He even tells them about Hayden and they don’t react to a human knowing a troll. They just wonder if Fenn can really trust him. Fenn decides to just leave his home forever because of this which seems a bit foolish.
And again, they don’t react much outside of Jarvick saying she’ll get him back. He told a human about you guys and is leaving, do something!
Fenn tells Hayden about what happened.
“It wasn’t an easy choice”
That’s why you did it so quickly!
After some messing around, Olaf captures some of Jarvick’s friends and I will admit he goes get a funny line sometimes. Nothing memorable enough to quote but given this movie has barely any humor (aside from how hilariously bad the animation is ), I’ll take it.
Jarvick goes up to Hayden and tells him that Fenn has been lying to him this whole time. Hayden at first rightfully thinks she’s full of shit but after she says more, he believes her. Because he’s an idiot.
“No, that’s not true. That’s impossible!”
Search your heart you kn-actually no, it doesn’t deserve it. But yeah, he befriended Fenn and he seemed pretty believable, to the point of saving Hayden, but this one troll he hasn’t properly met before (and only has bad word of mouth to go by) says some stuff and now he’s against him.
Jarvick tried to give a compelling argument but she’s so clearly full of shit. To be fair, Fenn isn’t here right now and he takes that to mean she’s right but still, he’s way too quick to believe her. Then she tears up these papers he has saying Fenn was good, he wouldn’t let her do this.
Doesn’t this bad action make it really hard to believe anything you say? And remember, he doesn’t see any clear evidence of this! It’s her word against his! Okay, right before he saw his notepad floating away (Trolls can go invisible because why not) but that hardly means anything since he can’t see who it is.
“I’m sorry I ever met you! I hate you!”
I hate you, if you’re going to be this much of a gullible idiot. I get what they were trying to do but it’s so contrived and cliché that it just ruins this character for me. Hayden walks away and Fenn shows up.
Jarvick tells Fenn that Hayden is a bad guy but he doesn’t believe her. Hey, he’s actually intelligent! He uses logic to show that she’s full of shit. Good on you movie, but it just makes the previous scene even worse.
Speaking of which, he meets up with Hayden, but he’s being a prick. Seriously, Fenn is pouring his heart out and says Hayden knows him well enough to know Jarvick is full of crap. He says all this stuff and uses all this logic but Hayen’s still not like nope.
“Jarvick says trolls always lie”
Then how do you know she isn’t lying about that?! Congratulations, this character is completely unlikable. Sure, their bond was rushed but this fails hard regardless of how well done that whole set up was.
You also gotta love how Hayden’s mouth moves during this, barely ever syncing up. This animation is just so bad, I swear.
“This is so bad”
Olaf takes the trolls he got back to his cabin and as he rants, his mouth doesn’t move at all! Are you sure this isn’t from the late 90’s? He also has this tirade about dancing with the first lady. This came out before November so….lol.
They have the trolls be invisible for no other reason than they were too lazy to animate models that are trapped and thus don’t have to do anything!
“Olaf, number one trollhunter!”
“Number one? You look more like zero to me!”
POPPY: Solid Burn, Branch.
Sorry, had to remind myself of the way better version of this, that I wasn’t even crazy about to begin with!
Olaf leaves to chase Fenn and Hayden comes in to rescue the trolls….became reasons.
“I was mad about what you did but even you guys don’t deserve this”
Hooray for rushed transition! Actually, I mean NO transition at all! He goes from hating them to this because fuck you, that’s why. This movie really goes from dull to broken and stupid in no time.
“You’ve got nothing better to do than chase us? That’s sad, really”
I don’t know why I find that line funny but I do.
Fenn gets away but Olaf presents this machine he’s been working on that will catch trolls. Hayden meets up with Fenn and they make up. Way to make that scene pointless on top of it’s other problems.
Now Olaf knows where he lives and he has a sort of weapon. He’s even able to suck up the chief guy but they quickly clog up the machine and then save him. Well, that was way too quick. Olaf’s still a threat but come on.
They find Jarvick about to do her whole water tower plan as she somehow doesn’t know or care about Olaf running around. They try to convince her to stop all this because someone might get hurt, which seems to be what she wants. They pull out a cheesy speech and-
“I just wanna punch something really hard!”
“Olaf’s attacking the warren, will that do?”
It works! Yep, the most unlikable character who had a pretty deep human hatred just changes her mind because of one short speech. I’m not even surprised at this point. They find Olaf and Fenn offers to help him.
Yes, just like with Jarvick they prepare some speeches to get him to change his ways. Fenn apologizes for an entire races actions and it turns out the Cheif dude was the troll that started Olaf’s hatred of them to begin with.
They explicitly state that the trolls started it and only made things worse by egging him on. They try to go for a “No one knows how it started so the fighting is pointless” but they just ruined that and caused a lot of bad implications.
This is just…wow. Everyone just makes up after YEARS after fighting just because of a bunch of dumb speeches? Both Jarvick and Olaf change their ways on a dime. They try to have Jarvick still act like herself sort of but it fails. It just makes sure she’s still somewhat of a bitch.
I get that we need a happy end and a “Just get along” message but this is way too optimistic and watered down. In the end, there are no more bad guys and everyone just changes on a dime. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. People don’t get years of prejudice go just like that and not everyone will suddenly change like that.
All the trolls decide to stop pranking now and everything is all hunkey dorey. Given the real life parallels this can have, this just feels so off. Even Trolls felt less forced in it’s message than this. This would have worked a lot better if, say Jarvick and/or Olaf stayed evil while everyone else changed their mind or something.
But whatever, let’s wrap this up. The Chief decides Fenn will be his heir.
“But he’s just a kid”
A kid who looks no younger than the other trolls and sounds like a grown man. Oh and Jarvick wins Prankaloza because I guess you cared. By the way, where’s Hayden in all this? We see him in a pan out but he said nothing despite being pretty important to all this.
We’re still not done as we get another scene with the pointless bullies. Also, Olaf makes a crack about Bigfoot and we pan out to see a badly animated Bigfoot. ..I say that like this whole movie wasn’t badly animated.
But we STILL aren’t done as the narration kicks to tell us everything that happens next, just so we never see a Trolland 2, where the trolls are now goblins. The trolls enjoy peace with humans and help them in secret.
Sometime later, the trolls introduce themselves to the humans and of course none of them hate the trolls and everyone just gets along. And Fenn becomes Chief, the end roll credits.
That was one of the worst rushed endings in a while. I know this is only an
Hour 13 minutes but just wow. The closure is extremely rushed and of course it makes the problem I ranted on even worse.
I don’t even care, let’s wrap this shit up. Oh and this used motion capture, that actually explains a lot.
I knew this would be bad going on but just…wow. It did not get better on a 2nd viewing. I’m a bit frustrated because I want to call this one of the worst animated films ever, but to be honest,on a pure writing level it doesn’t quite get there.
But that only excuses so much. Yes, this is a Direct to Video film but I’ve seen plenty that look better than this…as in all of them! This makes Foodfight look like Toy Story 3 in terms of animation and I know I can’t take that back but it’s true.
I’ll rant on the animation one more time: It’s really bad. As I’ve said, every single Direct to Video movie I’ve seen looks better. At least in Barbie Movie #454 or Fantastic Force, the characters belong in their environment and don’t clip through everything!
Most of the models don’t look THAT bad but some Trolls do look bad, especially the main one. I’ve seen the trailers for Izzie’s Way Home and Cargo and they look better. They still look bad but at least they mostly deal with non human characters so clipping and movements isn’t as much of an issue.
You get the idea, even the standards of a studio that makes decent money at this point, this looks terrible. It’s the worst aspect but the writing is also bad. The story is incredibly generic which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t so boring.
The first half is mostly stuff we’ve seen before with no real charm to it. The leads have no personality and in fact, all the characters suck. Fenn is bland, Hayden becomes an idiot, and Jarvick is just a bitch. Everyone else is just there. Olaf gets an okay line every once in awhile but that’s about it for positives in general.
If the main problem with being generic and boring with bad animation, I may not have reviewed it. But then we get the 2nd half where it all just becomes incompetent. Things start happening for no one reason and we get that stupid scene that makes Hayden unlikable.
And of course, the ending is way too clear cut and happy. I get what they were going for but even for a movie like this, it’s too unrealistic and rushed. That’s my real problem, nothing happens naturally. It’s a short movie but either make it longer or learn to write!
There’s some aspects I can respect but it’s done so badly that I can’t give it too much credit. This movie is just bad. As if being a shameless rip off of a much better movie (that again, I thought was only Average to begin with) wasn’t bad enough, we get bad writing with insultingly awful animation.
It’s not even so bad it’s good. It’s mostly boring. The animation almost is but at a certain point you get used to it and it becomes boring. Doesn’t help that it’s so ugly to look at in general. I would only suggest watching it just to see first hand how bad the animation is.
Otherwise, it’s just…bad. Maybe we’ll look at the other Asylum Animated movies but I doubt they’ll be worse than this.
By the way, if I included Direct to Video movies on my worst of 2016 list than this would be there, at Number 5. Yep.
Next time, we lighten up with a a piece of my childhood I haven’t looked at yet.