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Film Review #25: TROLL

Written by Donovan Wan

A bunch of miners decide to dig into the mountains using explosives, which is basically an alarm clock to a large-sized creature. The creature awakens and goes on an inexplicable rampage through the country, alerting the Norwegian government. Without the satellite technology to find out what it is at this point in time, they turn to a talented paleontologist, Nora Tidemann, to follow the trail and try to decipher what they have to deal with.

Nora sees the extent of the creature’s destruction as all evidence points to a hypothesis that she barely even believes: a Troll. Her estranged and eccentric father, Tobias, who has been obsessed with these creatures for years, is the only expert she could turn to. Unwillingly Nora decides to visit her father and to her distaste, Tobias is right. The Troll is marked as a threat by the government and to be eradicated. The Troll doubles as a reflection of Nora and Tobias’ relationship, a mysterious figure who goes on a disastrous yet unjustified journey only to hurt those around them.

The Troll’s design is quite a feat by the technical team, allowing emotions to pour through what could have been just a computer-generated character. There are nuances, little details that we see on the Troll that suggest some humanity behind those eyes. Even when the Troll goes berserk, the physics of movement feel so authentic that it does make you worry for the characters who have to face it. The interaction between the computer-generated Troll against the actual locations is seamless, we concentrate on the action on screen without a doubt that something might be amiss.

The cinematography is simply beautiful with the vast landscapes of the countryside. With the use of wider shots to cover a scene, we get to see the characters interacting with the large space as well. This decision to set most of the film in the rural areas makes it seem that the humans are the one out of place, which gives the Troll the home field advantage. It makes them feel smaller in the frame just like the Troll that they are going up against.

The subtle nature of this film’s cinematography is another one of its strengths, helping to enhance the believability of the special effects because it does not draw attention towards itself. With reference to the shot above, it is a simple two-shot with the background out of focus. Without warning, what we think is a rocky background becomes the Troll’s face. The impact is much stronger here because we do not know what to expect. There is no reliance on closeups or highly unfocused shots to hide errors, but it stays on wide shots to really set you into the scene. It feels that there is a lot more thought put into planning their shots because of the inclusion of the physics behind a camera or lens within their use of special effects. This attention to detail allows the audience to not focus on the technical side of things, but on the narrative instead.

This film was done in a practical and realistic way through the use of practical effects as well as how the government officials’ reactions play a part in the film. The film’s use of practical effects are highly ambitious, from showing a simple farmhouse being completely obliterated to an actual recreation of a baby troll’s skull. These efforts help heighten the realism of the world the film is set in against the completely computer-generated Troll.

Also, the overall depiction of the government was mostly handled in a believable setting. The politicians hold meetings which considered so many collaterals or misendeavours that it becomes such an intense situation to be in. This sort of minimalist approach helped improve the believability if such an event would occur in real life, similar to Shin Godzilla (2016). However, the involvement of the protagonist diverted what could have been an intense political thriller into a more heartfelt cliche ending.

Overall, Troll is an enjoyable action flick for the weekend with friends and family. There is such a strong sense of spectacle with its grand set-pieces and production design reeling you into a reality where an actual Troll has walked the earth.

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This review is published as an extension of *SCAPE’s Film Critics Lab organised by The Filmic Eye with support from the Singapore Film Society.

About the Author: Donovan Wan studied Film at the School of Art, Design and Media. He spends his free time freelancing on shoots and doing voice overs for commercials. He is an aspiring cinematographer and hopes to continue making short films or perhaps a feature someday.

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About the Movie:
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Kim Falck, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen

Year: 2022
Duration: 1h 41min
Language: Norwegian, English, Spanish

Synopsis: When an ancient troll is awakened in a Norwegian mountain, a ragtag group of heroes must come together to try and stop it from wreaking deadly havoc.

Troll is released exclusively on Netflix.

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