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The government says there's nothing to worry about it's just a problem with bears making trouble in the mountains and forests of Norway. But local hunters don't believe it and neither do a trio of college students who want to find out the truth. Armed with a video camera, they trail a mysterious poacher, who wants nothing to do with them. However, their persistence lands them straight in the path of the objects of his pursuits: trolls. They soon find themselves documenting every move of this grizzled, unlikely hero the trollhunter risking their lives to uncover the secrets of creatures only thought to exist in fairy tales.
The Norwegian comedy-fantasy Troll Hunter, a surprise art-house hit across the globe, posits an intriguing question--what if monsters of folklore and popular culture existed, but were kept hidden by the government?--and delivers the results in a clever, faux-documentary format that underscores both the special effects and the satire. Controversial comedian Otto Jespersen is the title character, a world-weary, working-class stiff assigned by a bureaucratic agency to track and eliminate dangerous trolls from the Scandinavian countryside. The lack of respect and notoriety afforded by his job convinces Jespersen to allow a naive collegiate film crew to follow him on his hunts, which nicely balance quirky humor with genuine moments of suspense and some impressive CGI special effects for the trolls. Genre fans' appreciation for the "shaky-cam" subgenre (The Blair Witch Project, [REC], Cloverfield) will undoubtedly affect how they feel about Troll Hunter--the film's light comedy will certainly be lost on those unwilling to either believe or tolerate the idea of another film comprised of "found footage." But more forgiving viewers will be thankful for the rather seamless incorporation of the CGI trolls, all imaginatively rendered as part fairy-tale image and part biological specimen, into live-action scenes, as well as the dryly humorous satire of government "special projects." Pacing is also occasionally an issue--though beautiful, the Norwegian landscape receives far too much coverage--but for the patient, Troll Hunter is a unique and clever experience. --Paul Gaita
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This Norwegian film begins with a group of students shooting a film that's supposed to be about poachers and hunters killing bears in the nearby forest. The problem is that once they arrive and see the bear that's been killed, they know this wasn't normal nor was it done by hunters. Seeing a man off to himself, they begin to follow him. Rumor has it that he is a troll hunter, those fabled creatures found in fairy tales.
The group follows him around and pesters him until he finally allows them to go with him in his travels. He drops hints to them that there are indeed trolls roaming the various forests but that the government does all it can to keep this fact unknown to the world. Of course the kids think he's full of it but play along thinking they can get an interesting movie out of it. They get more than they bargained for.
One night after he leaves them behind to set a series of troll traps, he suddenly comes back and tells them to sit still and be quiet. He continues to ask them if any of them are Christians to which they always respond no. It seems that trolls have an aversion to Christians and can smell them out.
As the group sits and jokes, oblivious to his warnings to be quiet, they see something shaking the trees in the distance. Soon they can see what it is when they come face to face with a giant troll breaking through the branches. Running for their lives with the troll in pursuit, it is the troll hunter who rescues them when they reach his vehicle, equipped with lights that freeze the troll until morning when the sunlight turns him to stone.
Here is where the film changes, becoming a quest for the group to document the reality that trolls do indeed exist and the cover up being initiated by the government to keep people unaware. It seems that the trolls have been given a substantial piece of land where they are to remain but recently have begun to cross over. One can only imagine if an army of these giants were to cross their border. Only the troll hunter keeps them in line.
This movie works on so many levels. As a "lost footage" true story film that turns once we glimpse the trolls (not that I would believe in them to being with). When the trolls make an appearance we find ourselves in another world where fairy tale creatures exist and few can hold them back. Rather than a movie about someone whose mind is lost that believes in trolls, we find ourselves believing as well.
The acting involved (don't expect names because I'm nearly certain no one would recognize them anyway) is well played with each actor making us believe they are this group of youngsters who find themselves in way over their heads. And the actor portraying the grizzled troll hunter does a remarkable job as the worn out man who must see to it they're contained.
The special effects are remarkable with stony giants come to life on the big screen. These aren't the lumbering creatures that perhaps a Harryhausen might have made 40 years ago, these are fast moving creations that would rush after you with little hope of escape.
The movie is vastly entertaining, taking its time to unwind and allow the story to unfold. Its not the normal jump into the creature 5 minutes into the film. We get to know the characters first, to witness their motivations and beliefs before we get to the trolls. But once we do it's a non-stop ride of imagination and combination of fear and fun you will enjoy.
Now even though this movie is just for fun, do not think it is all people trying to kill trolls. There are some clever elements thrown in for people that pay attention. I found the way things were explained how trolls are affected differently by sunlight interesting (hey, for a fake movie the logic made sense). I also like the way some classic fairy-tale elements (think of some goats and a bridge) and Norwegian folklore were brought in to explain troll behavior. I also like the fact there are different kinds of trolls instead of the same CGI creature reappearing over and over again. Each troll has a distinctive personality and level of danger. I also liked the way natural occurrences people take for granted throughout the film are explained cleverly as troll behavior.
The action scenes are well worth the wait and the acting is good for a low budget independent film about hunting down trolls. Is the film an Academy Award winner? By no means! Is it a fun movie to sit back to and enjoy? Absolutely! I would recommend at least finding a way to rent this movie. It's well worth 1 hr and 44 minutes of your time.
A group of naive student journalists sets out to track down and document a supposed bear poacher. This is Hans (Jespersen) and he is very reluctant to respond to their inquiries about his activities. They follow Hans all over Western Norway until they finally discover what he is really doing. After they figure this out he lets them follow and film him as he goes about his unique occupation. The moment when the students know for sure what Hans is really up to will test your imagination or make you laugh hysterically, or maybe even a little bit of both. At that moment I wasn't really sure what I was watching but I knew one thing; I loved it.
The natural performances by the rest of the cast are not to be overlooked. These are talented young actors that help make the film much more than a simple one trick monster movie. The Troll Hunter should also be commended for being shot on location in the mountains of Western Norway. It couldn't have been an easy shoot for anyone but again it lends itself in an attempt to make an off-the-wall concept filmmable and compelling. I suspect massive international attention for The Troll Hunter soon enough, and it deserves it. This has cult classic written all over it.