Monday 23 January 2023

Burl reviews Troll! (2022)

Höch now, it’s Burl, here to review sweet monster madness! Yes, we’re in giant creature territory here, but not in Japan this time, nor even in Korea or North Carolina! No, this monster hails from the northern reaches of our world, up in Norway! Of course we’ve had monster troubles up there before – ha ha, we all remember Trollhunter! Well, here’s a picture in the same vein, and this one is simply called Troll!

It’s not that Empire Picture from 1986 called Troll, the one where Sonny Bono turns into a jungle! No, in fact it's a pretty basic giant monster picture, garnished with a specific mythology and featuring a more human-like monster than usual! The movie reminded me of War of the Gargantuas if it had just the more sympathetic brown gargantua and not the evil green one! Still, the giant troll in this one does, like his grouch-coloured gargantua forbear, munch down on a poor unfortunate guy, eating him up just like a junior mint!

Anyway, the story is pretty simple! After a prelude showing a girl and her father climbing to the top of a Norwegian mountain and talking about the legend of the trolls, we skip to twenty years later, the present day, by which time the girl, Nora Tidemann, now played by Ine Marie Wilmann, has become a professor of paleontology working with The Rocketeer himself, Billy Campbell! When a mountain-drilling project being protested by environmentalists suffers a strange disaster which kills drillers and protesters alike, the Norwegian government puts together a task force which includes the initially baffled Nora!

Turns out the legends her father always talked about are true, and a hundred-meter troll has awakened in a grumpy mood and is wreaking destruction across the countryside! He’s not a destruction-for-the-sake-of-it sort of a monster, but he sure doesn’t shy away from causing carnage either! He’ll kick a house down without thinking twice if the house is in his way, and his melancholy, bulbous-nosed expression stays constant! But he does start to get irritated when they start shooting at him with rockets, ha ha! And who can blame him!

Most of the time is spent with the humans, though, following Nora as she's recruited by the prime minister to help out after an anthropoid form has been spotted in the billowing dust of a panic video! She’s paired up with a nerdy assistant who’s always telling people about his crazy book ideas, then is seconded to a military unit, and it looks like a pace-crippling romantic triangle might develop between Nora, the nerd, and a handsome military man, Kaptein Kristoffer; but thankfully that never happens! The gang visits Nora’s old dad, who’s now a crazed hermit because no one would listen to his troll theories, and there’s some tension between daughter and dad that needs to be worked out!

Meanwhile the troll attacks, or rather strides through, Lillehammer, where pesky helicopters are ringing church bells at him! Though annoyed he takes a moment to save a father and son from certain doom, and this is where everyone, characters and audience alike, realizes the troll’s primary goal actually isn’t to flatten (or occasionally eat) humans! But he doesn’t mind doing it either, and it soon appears that what he really wants is to stomp Oslo! It turns out he’s got his own agenda beyond that, but I’m not saying Oslo also doesn’t get a little stomped on in the process!

In many ways this is a Scandinavianized update of King Kong Lives, ha ha, but luckily they left out most of the stupid stuff! It’s not much more than a standard kaiju, complete with a “let nature be” message, and it has a few monster-less longeurs, but it’s never boring and pretty consistently entertaining! Plus the trick effects are solid, the troll is a sympathetic figure, and the whole thing is played at just the right pitch – not too self-serious, not too self-aware! Sure the characters aren’t much to write home about, some stuff doesn’t make sense, and a few threads are left dangling, but if you like a giant monster movie this ought to scratch the itch! I give Troll two and a half vintage Chevy pick-ups!  

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