Monday, May 21, 2012

REVIEW: Trollhunter

Director: Andre Ovredal
Year 2010
Trollhunter is an extremely magical film that transports the viewer into a world where trolls exist and in abundance. Taking the found footage route, the film presents a mock documentary that allows the movie to delve into believable territory, even with its far fetched plot. With the combination of handheld moments, digitally rendered and beautifully imagined creatures, and a cast of charismatic newcomers, Trollhunter aims to please any and all persons with a sweet-tooth for larger than life fairytales and expertly told fables. Let’s start hunting!
The film follows a small crew of student filmmakers as they embark on uncovering the mystery behind a man known as Hans the poacher, an infamous hunter who is accused of killing unauthorized bears in the wilds of Norway. While investigating this illusive figure, they shockingly come to find that he is a troll hunter, commissioned by the government in keeping trolls in their assigned territories and staying out of the eye of the Norwegian public. After having a frightening confrontation with a three headed troll, the crew decides to accept Hans’ invitation to join up and document all that he does while troll hunting. With the young filmmakers’ curiosity peaked, they set out on a journey of a lifetime, but could it be their end? Curiosity killed the cat, and trolls eat people. You do the math.

Otto Jespersen plays the role of Hans the Troll Hunter, and damn does he do a respectable and highly believable job as the ass kicking and soft spoken big game hunter. Otto approaches the role of Hans with respect, allowing the sympathetic nature of his character to hook the audience in and just soak it all up. It’s Otto’s careful acting tone that really allows the viewer to be swept up in the madness and be able to fathom that trolls truly exist in this cinematic realm that the filmmakers have set up. The overall look of the trolls are exceptionally crafted, but I believe that it is Otto’s set up of the world that they live in that really sells the movie as a portrayal of true events. Hans’ troll hunter persona is not just a one dimensional character, but a fully realized person with wants and needs, and a great deal of weight to carry on his shoulders in order to keep the world blind to what he does. I was fully hypnotized by Otto’s performance while under the magical spell of this film, and it really is a treat to see him spin these wild yarns and to be able to witness those fantastic tales come springing to life as he goes about his daily tasks. Hans is definitely a character for the ages.
Rounding out the onscreen characters that encompass the group of student filmmakers is Glenn Erland Tosterud, playing the role of Thomas, and Johanna Morck, playing the role of Johanna. Both do a great job in portraying the first time troll hunters and their reactions to all that they are seeing are priceless and genuine, but it is Tosterud’s performance that really stands out amongst the pack. His character grows over time from a goofy, know-it-all kid, to a wholly invested explorer of this newfound world of wonders. His gradual progression mirrors the viewer’s experience as we delve deeper into the intriguing and often dangerous realm of the troll and to watch both Thomas and Hans work as a team together is a thing of beauty. Glenn had an excellent charismatic pull that brimmed with enthusiasm, giving you no choice but to follow in his footsteps and take this great discovery, head on.

Aside from the great cast the film has an outstanding atmosphere to it. With the benefit of having the beautiful and haunting Norwegian landscape to place their story within, the filmmakers milk the scenery for all it’s worth, applying the steep troll lore of the region to guide the film along on an almost historic journey, decoding the myths and validating the legend. Dense forests, mountainous landscapes, ominous caverns, expansive valleys, and a somber tone leave the impression that trolls really do dwell in these untraversed locations, tucked away from the eyes of man and free to live about their own lives in secret. For a found footage film, this movie really does have some breathtaking views and a plethora of awe inspiring moments that rise above the cliché trappings of the subgenre of film, allowing a more, well-rounded, movie to come to the forefront.
Now that I’ve got the formalities out of the way, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of this cinematic beast. The overall look and presentation of the trolls are exceptionally imagined, harking back to the original depictions of these decrepit monsters and portraying them as more of an animal than anything fanciful. These guys eat, shit, and that’s about it, and there is nothing glamorous or appealing about them. What is most interesting about the way that they are represented is that there are a number of variations between the races of trolls that pop up in this film. There are some that have multiple heads depending on their age, there are some that are loners and some that travel in packs, and then there are a chosen few that are the size of skyscrapers that are able to devour a man in one bite. Impressively, the film presents all of these variations, but it does it in such a fashion that it never feels like a chore as we run down the checklist of all the important players of the troll world. The end result feels more like an adventure as we are thrown into this wild expedition, hunting some of the most wild and unimaginable prey known, or unknown, to man. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to go hunting again with Hans and the rest of the gang.

To sum up the film best, Trollhunter is just an unbelievably polished film that eases into the belief that trolls truly exist and then knocks us off our socks in presenting us with a vivid presentation of a fictional world come to life. I don’t normally find myself gravitating towards found footage films, but this is one that defies the odds and brings into light something entirely original and absolutely entertaining. The movie balances both comedic and frightening moments, to create something of a unique gem, one that establishes itself within its own created history and fabricated lore.
The cast does a commendable job in using the prestigious platform that the filmmakers have created within the narrative, using it as a springboard to propel their characters along one hell of an entertaining path as they encounter one big reveal after the next. Otto Jespersen and Glenn Erland Tosterud especially bring an impactful bit of weight to their roles, allowing themselves to be sucked into the moment. If you ever thought a movie about a man wandering the wilds of Norway and hunting trolls, was a theme that could never be filmed or presented in a respectful light, then you’d be dead wrong. Trollhunter is a genre film that has a great deal of heart and depth behind its unorthodox subject matter. If you’re looking for an original and entertaining ride, then look no further than this flick. Trollhunter is……

Don't ever interrupt the Troll Hunter when he's having his breakfast.

Don't sweat... It can smell fear.

Say cheese!

Being a troll hunter is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Can you guys at home believe this shit?

It's Hans the peeping troll hunter.

The doctor will see you now.

That's ok... I'll find another way across the creek.

Damn you're ugly.

I've got to take a troll-sized shit!

Yeah that camera's dead. It's all messed up.

Being a troll hunter is not a glamorous life.

If I saw this in real life, I would shit myself.

Turn your highbeams off.... asshole!

Goodbye Hans. We love you!

1 comment:

  1. Watched this movie last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. For me it was the best in the 'found footage' genre that I have ever seen.

    Nice write up!