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Film Review: Troll is a Visual Masterpiece of Epic Proportions

Sometimes the best way to combat long-dormant personal and societal conflicts is to face a terrifying situation directly without any qualms.

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That’s certainly the case for both the protagonist of Nora, as well as her overall society, after they’re forced to contend with a national emergency that soon becomes personal in the new epic action-adventure fantasy movie, Troll.

The feature was written by Espen Aukan, who based the script on a story he created with famed Norwegian filmmaker, Roar Uthaug. The latter, who’s most well known in the U.S. for directing the 2018 reboot, Tomb Raider, also helmed Troll.

Beginning with a flashback, Troll follows a father, Tobias Tidemann (Gard B. Eidsvold), and his young daughter, Nora (Ameli Olving Sælevik), as they bond while they climb the Dovre mountain in their native Norway. He tells her about the legend of the area’s titular trolls turning into stone, which left their bodies to form the area’s mountains 1,000 years ago. He also encourages her to always believe in the legend, even when she can’t see what other people believe is a fairytale.

Twenty years later, Nora (Ine Marie Wilmann) has outgrown her belief in magic and has instead turned to science. She now works as a paleontologist, and has been estranged from her folklorist father for years. She’s currently working on a research expedition that hasn’t garnered any significant results for the past six months.

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That all changes when a mining project has awoken the eponymous ancient mythical creature from the depths of the Dovre mountain.

As the creature begins wreaking havoc on the surrounding area, the Norwegian government recruits Nora to work with the Prime Minister’s advisor, Andreas (Kim Falck), and military soldier Kris (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen).

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The trio is tasked with finding out what the creature is and how it can be stopped.

As Nora begins to collect evidence of what the creature might be, she decides to reconnect with, and seek assistance from, her estranged father. While Tobias is suspicious of the government after his previous clashes with authority, and Nora is wary of his antics, the group finds a way to work together, and sets out to stop the troll from wrecking havoc across the country.

Uthaug once again proves he’s at his best as a storyteller while making action and adventure-driven movies with his latest effort. Much like his 2015 disaster film, The Wave, Troll is an emotionally and visually gripping feature that interweaves sentimental performances and vital societal messages with stellar action sequences and cinematography.

Wilmann perfectly captures Nora’s innate desire to preserve the past while also embracing logical, scientific-based advances to protect modern society and forge a path for the future. The protagonist continues to embrace that ideal even after she witnesses the troll’s revival, but the actress evolves the character to not just be led by her logical mindset anymore; she begins to also truly sympathize with the plight of those around her, who are most affected by the titular creature’s return.

For instance, Nora is initially apprehensive about the fairytales her father has proclaimed to be true throughout her life. But Wilmann evolves the protagonist to be more accepting of his ideas after she begins working as a paleontologist. In her work, she starts to find her own evidence that supports his proclamation that the titular troll is real and driven by his emotions of how humans have treated his species throughout its existence.

The troll’s emotions about how his species has been mistreated by humans emphasizes the drama’s overall reflection on how modern human greed has long destroyed nature and is eroding the world so much that it may no longer sustain human life. Once Nora gathers her own evidence and ponders that her father’s long-held beliefs about ancient mythology may not just be fairytales, she begins to balance compassion with her scientific knowledge. She starts to question her government’s immediate decision to combat their perceived new enemy with force, which represents the movie’s message that society needs more sympathy in the face of adversity.

Wilmann’s enthralling portrayal of Nora as she progresses from a devoted paleontologist who’s committed to finding plausible evidence to a compassionate believer in folklore is set against Uthaug’s signature action sequences and special effects. As previously showcased in The Wave, the filmmaker crafted stunts that are both impressively grand and profoundly intimate, which are brilliantly captured by director of photography Jallo Faber’s cinematography.

Whether Nora, Andreas, Kris and Tobias are trying to connect with the troll by trying to stop the military’s ammunition that’s targeted at him, or leading him through a high-tension race away from their fellow citizens, the drama’s action sequences emphasize the high stakes of stopping him. While Troll‘s broad stunts unfold across wide open and alluring locations, Faber’s intimate, close-up shots of the action sequences lure viewers directly into the scenes alongside the actors.

Troll is another visually and emotionally gripping action-adventure featureshow from Uthaug, who once again proves his talent as a genre filmmaker after he also infused a character, social commentary and stunt-driven story into The Wave.

Uthaug’s latest effort features a melancholic subtext about how old folklore are forgotten over time, which is supported by Wilmann’s emphasis of Nora’s desire to preserve the past while also embracing modern society. Combined with intriguing stunts that are set against alluring locations and shown through Faber’s intimate close-up shots, Troll is a fun and equally thought-provoking action-adventure fantasy movie.

Troll is now streaming on Netflix.

Grade: B

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the film.

Karen Benardello
Karen Benardello
As a life-long fan of films and television shows, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic in 2008. Karen has since been working in the press in New York City, including interviewing film and television casts and crews, writing movie and television news articles and reviewing films and televisions series. Some of her highlights include attending such local events as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and New York Comic-Con, as well as traveling across North America to attend such festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a member of the Women Film Critics Circle since 2012, and the New York Film Critics Online since 2019.


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