Fun screen troll in mega-generic monster movie.
ADVENTURE / MONSTER MOVIE
Premiere on Netflix on Thursday 1 December
Norway. 13 years. Director: Roar Uthaug
With: Ine Marie Wilmann, Kim Falck, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Gard B. Eidsvold, Anneke von der Lippe, Dennis Storhøi, Fridtjov Såheim, Karoline Viktoria Sletteng Garvang
The workers at Dovre who are laying the railway north, to loud protests from a dozen young activists, are about to get a surprise. No sooner has the explosive charge gone off than it is as if the mountain itself comes to life. It rumbles dimly far in there. Something or someone is on the way out.
It is not the Americans’ “King Kong”. It is not the Japanese “Godzilla”. It’s not one of the dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park”. There is something as deeply Norwegian as a troll. As cheated out of Theodor Kittelsen, probably 60-70 meters high.
The Norwegian tradition of monster films is not long. There was one about a werewolf just a couple of weeks ago, written by the same screenwriter who has been traveling here, Espen Aukan. And many probably remember André Øvredal’s horror-comedy Trolljegeren (2010). Disaster films, on the other hand, have for strange reasons become a Norwegian discipline. Director Roar Uthaug made his in 2015: “The Wave”. With “Troll” he unites the two related genres.
His main character, besides the troll, is the palaeontology professor Nora Tidemann, in the guise of Ine Marie Wilmann. She is urgently summoned to Oslo in the wake of the events at Dovre: Har she An explanation of what this could be?
Tidemann, wise from injury, hesitates to answer, but finally comes forward as her father’s daughter. The father is Tobias (Gard B. Eidsvold), a professor of folklore research and folklore, who was at one point locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Tobias believes that trolls exist, that they can be tamed (he is a kind of “troll whisperer”) and that it is Olav the Saint’s fault that they are thirsty for Christian men’s blood. He is, in short, the good old man the madman who was right all along.
The troll is now way over the mountain, heading for the capital. Good advice is expensive. How will Nora convince the Norwegian Prime Minister, played by Anneke von der Lippe, that they should look for answers in folk tales? Without appearing like a fool? She has to fight against the Minister of Defense Frederick Markussen (Fridtjov Såheim), who would prefer to just unleash on everything and everyone. But also – let’s face it – common sense in its generality. Troll, you kind of!
As you can see: “Troll” is not exactly looking to take the art of film a step further. On the contrary. What it wants is to tread as faithfully as possible to the genre in the huge footsteps of the successes I mentioned above. With a local touch that Norwegians will think is funny (think, monsters here too!), and foreigners will think is exotic.
The tourism industry gets its due in the form of beautiful drone images of mountains and valleys, as well as a scene that takes place at Hunderfossen Adventure Park in Lillehammer. Even the most blasé Norwegian will squeal with fear and joy when the giant enters Oslo, destroys the Freia sign on Egertorget with a snap and ends up in the “barcode” area in Bjørvika. An image, almost as tragic as the ending in “King Kong”, that “progress” and nature do not speak the same language.
Uthaug is very good at orchestrating CGI action and gore. So it’s a shame he’s so unambitious when it comes to everything else. The people, for example, who we would like to cheer for, or enjoy getting their well-deserved punishment: It is difficult to get involved with these. The characters are so paper-thin that it doesn’t really work.
In addition to Wilmann, Eidsvold, von der Lippe and Såheim, who all play variants of types we have seen in similar productions before, not least in “Independence Day” (1996), we have Kim Falck as the clumsy but well-meaning nerd, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen as the stubborn soldier, Dennis Storhøi as the stoic defense commander and Karoline Viktoria Sletteng Garvang as the shy but brilliant secret weapon.
These exchange jokes that are not so witty, and otherwise behave exactly as the clichés demand. The roles are so lazily written that they make good actors appear less good than they demonstrably are. The is not possible to animate these cardboard figures.
Eidsvold comes best from it, possibly on routine alone. Wilmann works well in a role that seems to have “Ingrid Bolsø Berdal” tattooed on its forehead. But a little strange, I think, that she has to wait so long before she can unleash her inner Indiana Jones. To begin with, she largely sits in meetings and asks for “more time”.
Unless you’re between 13 and 17, there’s not much in “Troll” you’ll remember in a week or two. And it is indeed a paradox that a film like this, where size is everything, will at best be seen on a large flat screen with an expensive surround system, at worst on a smartphone with AirPods.
But – well done. “Troll” is undeniably quite fun while it’s running.
Published: 01.12.22 at 16:00