July 30, 2013

Movie Review: Trolljegeren (The Troll Hunter) (2010)

You know what I love most about Trolljegeren? It's not that it made the increasingly-stale "found footage" genre interesting again. It's not that it cleverly and impressively used CGI to make some remarkable moments. It's not that I have a soft spot for clever, well-made foreign films.

It's that this movie will be hard to remake in Hollywood.

Even with the news that Chris Columbus bought the remake rights, I can't see how this movie can be successfully remade in the US without it becoming a completely different film. Trolls are a bedrock of Norse mythology. The reason there is a troll in "Jack and the Beanstalk" is because of the Norse influence in the development of English and British culture.

We don't have trolls here. We don't really have any homegrown monsters in the US besides Bigfoot and King Kong. Americans won't be able to relate to trolls because they are not part of our cultural identity.

And we don't have the vast beautiful emptiness of Norway where one could pretend trolls live. Yeah, you could substitute Alaska for that but it isn't really the same, is it?

But there is more to like from Trolljegeren than just it's difficulty in being remade and butchered in the US. It's clever - three students follow a man they believe is hunting trolls. They eventually confront him and get him to admit he works for an unknown Norwegian government agency: the Troll Security Service. The TSS has the job of observing trolls and hunting them down if they go off their living grounds and interact with people. They also have to cover up any and all interactions, even those that end in death. The hunter, Hans, allows the students to follow and film him as he tries to deduce why the trolls are becoming more aggressive.

What we get is a incredibly fun film to watch. In many ways, the visuals and the plot framework overshadow the acting. Only Otto Jespersen, as Hans, stands out among the cast. But as he is the focus that isn't too surprising. He plays Hans well; a man who has hunted trolls for decades, seen and done things he isn't proud of, and now just wants to be done with it. He understands the trolls more than the TSS.

We see him, as the title suggests, hunt trolls. And what a variety of trolls, from the smaller Ringlefinch (about 15 ft high) to the towering Jotnar (over 500 ft high). The Jotnar is a CGI masterpiece, just amazingly done and it blends seamlessly into the cold, foreboding Norwegian scenery. Considering the budget of Trolljegeren was $3.5M USD, the quality of the special effects is doubly impressive.

We get to see how trolls are killed and why they are susceptible to that method. We get to see how the TSS goes about covering up troll activity, and just how far they will go to keep trolls in the area of myth and not fact. And all this is married to some great scenery. Norway's natural beauty is on full display here.

Trolljegeren is just really clever and fun. And that allows it to overcome some down moments in pacing and a cast that is largely generic in their roles and personality. But that isn't surprising when you have to share screen time with a 500 foot troll. It's like a Godzilla movie; you don't leave complaining that those Japanese actresses playing the little Mothra women didn't have great line delivery skills. You leave talking about how Godzilla beat down another monster and crushed Tokyo.

I called Trolljegeren a "found footage" film at the start, but that isn't exactly right. Trolljegeren belongs in the monster movie genre; it just uses the "found footage" style as a method of telling the story (a la Cloverfield). This is the first Norwegian giant monster movie (as far as I know), and director André Øvredal should be damn proud of it.

Here's hoping it's the only version of the film you'll be able to see. It's on Netflix Instant Streaming.


Post a Comment


Site of Future Awesomeness

Coming soon.

Site of Future Awesomeness

Coming soon