Cert: 15 Runtime: 103 mins Director: André Øvredal Cast: Otto Jepersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum and Glenn Erland Tosteurd
Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?
Recently our Viking brethren from the Icey North have dipped their manly toes in the creative waters of film-making. That’s not to say they haven’t before, but I would say films about an evil Santa Claus, Nazi Zombies and now, Troll Hunters are probably not Norway and Finland’s go-to themes. I could be wrong, and I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.Me being me I decided to give the Troll Hunter a go,Three student filmmakers venture into the most isolated region of Norway on a mission to confront a notorious bear poacher, and discover that the elusive hunter’s true prey is something far more extraordinary. Though Kalle, Thomas, and Johanna thought they were pursuing a criminal, after locating Hans (Otto Jespersen) with the help of some local hunters, they learn that bears are not his true target but a mere smokescreen to obscure what he’s really after — trolls. A secret government agency has been conspiring to cover up the existence of these massive monsters, but occasionally the trolls manage to break their containment area. When that happens, it falls on Hans to capture the creatures at all costs. Trolls are highly sensitive to sunlight, and traditional weapons only make them angry. Instead of carrying a gun, Hans carries an enormous UV light capable of stopping even the fiercest of trolls dead in its tracks. The only way that humans can travel in the area undetected is to cover their bodies in a foul-smelling concoction that makes them invisible to the troll’s highly developed sense of smell. Lately, the long hours and grueling work conditions have been taking their toll on Hans, so when the student filmmakers show up looking for a good story, he decides that it’s time for the truth to come out, no matter what the cost. Now, if the group can just survive long enough to get their incredible footage to the outside world, they could be responsible for revealing the most impressive cryptozoological discovery in the history of humankind.
I sincerely wanted to love Troll Hunter, I wanted to love it for its tense cat and mouse moments, I wanted to love it for its impressive ideas towards shaky cam cinematography, and most of all I wanted to love it for the trolls themselves, massive behemoths scouring the Norwegian countryside for a stray sheep or unsuspecting college student. Unfortunately, Troll Hunter is a mixed bag that brings down the good with an abundance of the bad. The plot is simple, and passes up time that could be spent trying to establish logical character motivation in favor of lightly comic scenes and exposition regarding the biology and history of the trolls. This is not entirely a bad thing for most of the movie, as director André Øvredal keeps things going smoothly, pushing the audience from one impressive set piece to another. Many of the troll encounters are tense and breathtaking at the same time, and one cannot help but marvel at the sight of a troll chasing our hapless heroes. This is largely due to the impressive low budget CGI used throughout the film and surprisingly smooth camera-work, ditching the tiresome technique of flinging the camera left and right (as one would most likely do in real life, to be fair) in favor of steady shots that allows the audience to marvel at the beasts without sacrificing the tension gained through shaky cam cinematography. The trolls themselves look amazing, by far some of the most imaginative and well rendered budget movie magic I have seen in a long time, especially coupled with the beautiful Norwegian scenery.
Sadly, despite all the praise I have heaped upon Troll Hunter, the movie isn’t without its flaws. The film falls flat on its face several times, whether it is caused by overly bland exposition or painfully unfunny comedy that pops up throughout the film. These lulls aren’t so bad in the first half, but become incredibly agitating in the second as the viewer waits for a payoff that refuses to rear its ugly head. Also to note is the films general sloppiness in the final act, in which multiple characters are introduced without purpose, are never given an exit, and don’t fit at all within the story. Finally, the film arrives at a conclusion that is incredibly odd, as characters are dismissed without any closure to their arcs and events begin to happen that are head- scratchingly misplaced. Although many of these gripes cripple what could have been one of the best sci-fi movies of the New Year, Troll Hunter is still a fun but flawed ride with enjoyable scenes and some great visuals.7.2/10