Capsule Review: Troll (2022)

The Trolls are back… in a live-action version! They have grown bigger than you can ever imagine and they are going to assault your hearing with their louder-than-usual singing moments. Oh, wait… there’s only one troll and it’s my bad for mistaking this Netflix film with that certain animated feature.

In other words, you are not going to find anything cute or cuddly about this ancient troll in Roar Uthaug’s creature feature, which marks his return to his native Norwegian cinema after taking a brief Hollywood detour in 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot.

Simply titled Troll, the Scandinavian folklore gets a Godzilla/King Kong-like Hollywood treatment, where the creature in question becomes very, very angry after a crew blows up the rock underneath the Dovre Mountain to build a railway tunnel. The explosion ultimately awakens the troll, which in turn, destroys everything in its path.

Soon, the news spreads like wildfire as the government is urgently searching for the answer, where the prime minister (Anneke von der Lippe) instructs her adviser Andreas Isaksen (Kim Falck) to assemble a team of experts. Among them includes a paleobiologist named Nora Tidemann (Ine Marie Wilmann), whose father (Gard B. Eidsvold) is a firm believer in the existence of trolls. She later teams up with Andreas and a military captain, Kristoffer Holm (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen) to locate the creature responsible for the attack.

The titular creature in Netflix's "Troll" (2022)

Roar Uthaug, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Espen Aukan, basically sticks to the tried-and-true formula that we have seen many times before in Hollywood creature features. The story is pretty much predictable, complete with all the obligatory checklists: a protagonist who’s an expert in something (in this case, Nora is a paleobiologist), a comic-relief sidekick (Kim Flack’s Andreas) and of course, an eccentric know-it-all (Gard B. Eidsvold’s Tobias). And not to forget, there’s the usual subplot about an estranged relationship and here, we have Nora and her father who don’t see eye to eye with each other due to their different mindsets.

Still, if you can look past the cliché-ridden moments, Troll remains a reasonably entertaining import for a Norwegian creature feature. The movie doesn’t drag too long or overstays its welcome with an acceptable 101-minute runtime. Uthaug doesn’t waste time either when comes to showing us the full look of the gigantic troll within half an hour or so. The result? The troll sure feels like a novelty for a change and the special effects team did a great job in this movie. Not only does the troll looks physically imposing (I can imagine it’s more so if we get to see this on the big screen) but it also blends seamlessly with the background.

Kudos also go to Uthaug for his impressive visual flair when comes to delivering big-scale spectacle and this can be seen in some of the noteworthy action-packed moments, namely a scene involving the troll attacking the helicopters and the climactic chase scene that instantly reminds me of Roland Emmerich’s setpiece in Godzilla (1998).

Despite the movie’s overly-familiar storytelling beats, Aukan and Uthaug’s screenplay does cover some of the fascinating age-old mythology surrounding the troll and even incorporates related allegories of environmental disaster, human greed and the nature-fights-back catastrophe. The movie also benefits from an overall decent cast, notably Ine Marie Wilmann as Nora and Gard B. Eidsvold as Tobias as they do whatever they can to elevate their performances beyond mediocrity.

Troll is currently streaming on Netflix.