Friday, December 2, 2011

Troll Hunting for Fun and Profit

If I could quantify my love for new, fascinating films dropping into my Netflix instant queue, I'd need a disproportionately large measurement system. I wonder if I could rent the deck of an aircraft carrier? What's the going rate? It should take an enormous scaling to dish up the delightful cinematic ideas coming out of Norway. If your gore soaked funny bones weren't tickled by Dead Snow (which they should have been, rewatch it noob), then allow Norwegian film making to win you over with the dark fantasy, Troll Hunter.

Love the poster art

Heavily steeped in folklore, Troll Hunter never treats the titular monsters as such. Instead, we're introduced to them by a documentary crew following a government sponsored agent, Hans the Troll Hunter (Otto Jespersen, who is FANTASTIC). Hans is a tired, disgruntled employee who decides to expose the long kept government secret because he's underpaid and sick of government bureaucratics. He's a blue collar worker doing a thankless job which would be extraordinary to anyone else, but to him is simply another day-another dollar. In that sense, he's got a lot of the appeal of Hellboy (my favorite comic book character), minus some of the more overt comedy. For me, Hans makes this film what it is. His weapons and his methods are akin to that of an exterminator, methodically readying specialized equipment to deal with specific variants of pests. (I could also draw parallels to James Woods in John Carpenter's Vampires, but I don't want to call down the slings of arrows of outrageous 'net trolls.)

Our Hero: Hans

The Trolls themselves are thoroughly fleshed out, both scientifically and through associated folklore. There are different subspecies, their traditionally depicted abilities and vulnerabilities are given scientific explanations and they are confirmed as mammals, at one point, by a veterinarian whom Hans consults. Their haunts, behaviors and even physical oddities are cataloged and either exploited or defended against. It's intriguing. It sucks in the part of your brain which is always actively scanning to explain the dark parts of our world and our cultural imagination.

Set in and around Norway, we're treated to amazing vistas - the likes of which draw to mind scenes from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Waterfalls, mountains, green hills and frozen tundra are all fleetingly seen. Here is where I need to detail my only detractions from what is an otherwise fantastic film. To this point I haven't mentioned the cinematic style or over arching frame work of the story. That's because Troll Hunter is a found footage film. We're viewing through the eyes of an aspiring(and yawningly uninteresting) documentary crew, yearning to drag the mythological trolls screaming into the light of day. Why bring this up while speaking about the beauty of the Norwegian landscape? Because the herky-jerky nature of being a found footage film means the vistas were only glanced at, sideways with a camera sitting on a lap pointed out a window.

Indeed the parkinson's fueled cinematics lend difficulty to following along with the subtitles, which normally become second nature to viewers within a few minutes. I will admit bias on my part- I've grown very tired of the found footage motif. I'd have much preferred this be a traditionally shot piece of motion picture fantasy. It's not enough to ruin viewing experience - but I'd be remiss not to dock it a few cool beans for wearing the well used garb of a trend I'd like to see fade (mostly) away.

Troll Hunter is very awesome. It's a cinematic treat and well worth seeking out. It's apparently already on the fast track for an "Americanization" (since 90% of Americans are lazy fucks unwilling to see a subtitled film) - but it's destined to fail if it doesn't star Otto Jespersen. Chris Columbus had better hope Otto speaks English.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorites from the past year, the subtitles were fine, watched it with about a group of 15 people over the summer and not one complained.