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Looking at the filmography of Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, he has always dabbled with various genres that would make you think that Hollywood would be his calling card. Slasher films, historical thrillers and even the Christmas movie are all a part of his resume. After his 2015 disaster flick The Wave, which got him international attention, he finally made his Hollywood debut with 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot, which is one of the better video game film adaptations. Uthaug’s latest venture is at Netflix, where his new film Troll marks his return to his homeland whilst serving as a pastiche of the big-budgeted Hollywood monster movie.
When an explosion in the Norwegian mountains awakens an ancient troll, officials seek the help of paleontologist Nora Tidemann (Ine Marie Wilmann) and her fairy tale-believing father (Gard B. Eidsvold) to stop it from wreaking deadly havoc.
The last Norwegian movie with a heavy dose of trolling was 2010’s Trollhunter, a “found footage” mockumentary that documented the occupation of troll-hunting. While that film balances the sense of dread with a dry sense of humor, this troll-infested movie is trying to be sincere like you would see in a Roland Emmerich movie and that’s where the laughs come in, even if you cringe from the numerous pop culture references.
However, it seems that Uthaug and his co-writer Espen Aukan had watched Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse as you can definitely see that franchise’s influence here; such as the central conflicted relationship between father and offspring, reminiscent of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, to the design of the eponymous monster, evoking Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island. That said, the human element is always the problem as despite the sincere performances from Ine Marie Wilmann and Gard B. Eidsvold. Everyone else is such a caricature caricature that you can map out where the narrative is going, no matter how much the director may be on the joke.
Considering it is a Netflix release, it is a shame that Troll will not be shown theatrically as Uthaug can direct spectacle, even in the way he presents the troll itself is pretty grand. While you have the typical action sequences of military weapons being fired, the more the story delves into the fairy tale mythology of trolls, the set-pieces become inventive, such as helicopters attempting to take it down with church bells. Again, you can map out where the film is going, but through the action, you can tell director Roar Uthaug is enjoying himself.
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