Troll (2022)

Troll (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Troll (2022)
Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Kim FalckMads, Sjøgård Pettersen
Genres: Action/Adventure
Release date: 1 December 2022
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10
Languages: Norwegian and English
Duration: 1h 41m


Troll (2022)


Now and then, as a critic, you sense a certain rift with your target audience. Kind of like when I finished writing the unbridledly enthusiastic first impressions of Troll, and then watched the lukewarm reactions of our readers/viewers, who flushed Uthaug’s attempt at Norwegian-Hollywood fusion down the toilet in the same bag as the other tasteless and odorless Netflix shows. Yes, I admit that the donkey bridge with the rather inventive indie Troll Hunter was perhaps too steep since Uthaug is more or less trying to be an American-cut blockbuster (and helped a lot by the typical action soundtrack), but at the same time, it shows how much he can rely on his overseas internship with the feature-length Tomb Raider taught.

As a hard-nosed film reviewer, I enjoyed that someone could give space to the characters, work with clichés in a clear and predictable (not always a swear word) way, and put digital tricks into a beautiful landscape in a way that didn’t seem distracting. At least in the first two-thirds, for some only in the first half, Uthaug is greatly helped by the enchanting Scandinavian landscape, the slowly building mystery on the border between folklore myth and imprinted footsteps in the drying mud, and the authenticity forced by the original Norwegian wording. The actors are likable and hard-working, the conflict between father and son, offering another interface with the latest adaptation of Godzilla, is austere but functional, and the film begins to stumble only when the central “hero” turns his course for the capital.

Before the unnecessarily impetuous final sprint, in which the heart-wrenching motivation of the troll released from the mountain and paved with the bones of his ancestors completely disappears, it is a harmless and playful variation on Godzilla, during which I beautifully imagined what Czech fairy-tale creatures would go to grab it in this way. I did not see in it an imperfect European fake or perhaps a caricature of American blockbusters. On the contrary, the schematic script and straightforward plot are as much a throwback to the nineties as a departure from today’s Hollywood ills. Troll is a simple film, but its plot does not make frantic loops, and in the script, the drama is created by misunderstandings, not by breaking the laws of physics or logic

It would be a shame to dismiss the Norwegian attempt as a locally expensive production that is “thirty years behind the monkeys” compared to the Western mainstream. Roar Uthaug returns quite deliberately, draws on monster classics, and does not stoop to low-hanging fruit with variations on Godzilla, but rather opens the door to Norse mythology with a familiar box, similar to what the kaiju subgenre has been doing since time immemorial. We may be offended by the fact that Europeans needlessly copy Hollywood, rather than go in their direction, but just such critics then loudly add in one breath that if the A-models are being copied, they should be surpassed in every way.

We probably all realize that this is an absurd request. Moreover, Uthaug does not want to be the new Emmerich. As for the old ones, who could present charismatic characters, sprinkle some humor over the CGI apocalypse, and dig into American pathos. The latter is logically missing in Uthaug’s Troll. Maybe that’s the important missing ingredient because we expect even more authenticity from a big bug in its natural habitat than Uthaug normally offers. That is also why I would recommend his Wave to everyone, where, albeit at an even slower pace and with a more elusive villain, the director achieves a perfect fusion of European and American tools for manipulating the viewer and their expectations.

But just to make no excuses, in the context of a satisfied, but not groundbreaking, seventh in the rating could seem inappropriate. Norse’s aloofness towards the Troll falls flat, as much as it may go against the expectations of everyone who just wants another Godzilla. The endless guessing of half a dozen politicians and experts at a table somewhere in a bunker can seem tiresome to some, but with a hundred-minute footage, Troll can hardly be blamed for wordiness. On the contrary, in the already mentioned target, Uthaug avoids hot topics, when the biggest skits are naturally again and again people – however safely dead for several centuries – and instead of twisting the knife in the wound to the soul, he starts fencing with a nuclear scenario. Trying to cater to a global audience? Perhaps, but the braking of the creator in flight comes as unexpectedly as the morning sun over Oslo.

With all the relative satisfaction, I consider the consideration of a sequel unnecessary. The first viewing figures will decide his fate, but for me, Uthaug’s Troll is a one-time experiment and I would be very surprised if the director returns to the material. It is a career step for him, a fulfilled dream of a little boy who was looking for the outlines of stone giants in the rocky mountains. It’s time to dream other dreams and make other films. I firmly believe that on Roar Uthaug’s back, he will climb higher, because even the biggest blabbler must feel the director’s handwriting behind all the theatrics, which it would be a damn shame to lose.

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