Troll

Film review

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: When an explosion in the Norwegian mountains awakens an ancient troll, officials appoint a fearless paleontologist to stop it from wreaking deadly havoc. This fantasy-action film stars Ine Marie Wilmann (War Sailor) and was directed by Roar Uthaug (Tomb Raider and The Wave).

Norwegians, including we of familial descent, are big on trolls. Big trolls. Like, really big.

They used to be bigger. The focus, not the creature. Legend has it that when King Olaf The Holy “Christianized” Norway in the late ninth/early 10th centuries, he decreed that all credence invested in the existence of trolls shall cease. And so it is said that the entirety of these colossal species then disappeared underground, ever since existing beneath the myriad of majestic mountains crowding the north of Norway.

Until today.

Once again, they live large in the new Netflix action adventure drama Troll. Or at least one of ’em does, that is.

Stirred from deep beneath the remote Dovre Mountain by human munitions, it is unleashed upon a panicked public. And, man, is that troll pissed. His relentlessly destructive goal: get to the royal palace in Oslo and reclaim its rightful perch upon the nation’s throne.

The measure of the Norwegian military is rendered powerless to stop this ferociously determined pilgrimage through rugged back country. The future of an entire country comes to culminate on the lovely cum gritty shoulders of renowned paleontologist Nora Tidemann (Wilmann in a fine multi-layered performance). As a girl, Nora was raised on the mythical magic of the monsters by her troll expert dad, Tobias (exquisite work by veteran pro Gard B. Eidsvold). Over the years, she has dismissed the notion that the behemoth beasts are real. But Tobias inspires his daughter to, as he has always implored, “believe it and you will see it.”

And Nora sees plenty more than she wants to, including heart-shattering tragedy.

Does Nora save the day for all of Norway? Well, don’t look to me for the answer.  Never one to be “That Spoiler Guy,” I recommend that you watch Troll and find out for yourself.  And if you do so choose, strap in tight ’cuz you’re in for one hell of a roller coaster ride, my friend.

Uthaug keeps the action blazing at breakneck speed here, punctuated profoundly by the rapid-fire splicing of Chief Editor Cristoffer Heie and some simply spectacular special effects courtesy of an army of tech whizzes helmed by Alexander Solem.

Oh, there’s the Scandi requisite recognition of all things “green” versus the thoughtless ravaging of nature by the callous and the greedy. And the almost anti-Christian subtext may be troublesome for some, particularly to fellow believers (hey, trolls aren’t fans).

But all in all, it’s all good fun.  And, gosh darn it, we deserve a heaping helping of that coveted commodity for the holidays, don’t we? And beyond.

And finally, this. Considering Nora’s sly smile, followed by this ominous final scene from inside a now-abandoned Dovre Mountain, can Troll 2 really be looming very far behind now?

We can only hope!

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com.