Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DVD Review: TROLLHUNTER (2010)

LABEL: Magnet Releasing
RELEASE DATE: August 23rd 2011
DURATION: 103 mins
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
AUDIO: English, Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1
DIRECTOR: Andre Ovredal
CAST: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Glenn Erland Tosterud, , Tomas Alf Larsen, Urmila Berg_Domaas, Hans Morten Hansem, Johann Morck
TAGLINE: You'll Believe It When You See It

Here we are again with yet another found-footage film shot in the cinema verite style but fear not visitor's to the Mausoleum, this one is a keeper. TROLLHUNTER begins with a trio of Norwegian college students whom set about documenting what they believe is a series of illegal bear poachings. The crew consists of on-screen talent Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterudwhen), sound recordist Johanna (Johanna Morck) and cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen). After speaking with a group of hunters whom are outraged at the illegal killing they track down the alleged "poacher", a mysterious man named Hans (Otto Jespersen). They eventually sleuth the location of the elusive character and further trail him into the woods late one night where they believe he stalks his illegal game. What they discover is that he is not a poacher but is in fact a Trollhunter who works for the Troll Security Service (TSS), a secretive government agency devised to keep the existence of trolls hidden from the public. Hans has been tasked with locating and destroying trolls who stray from their assigned remote territories. After some reluctance he allows the persistent trio to document his trollhunting exploits. Hans has a few strict rules the trio must adhere to if they wish to join him. First, his word is final and they must adhere to his every command, troll hunting is quite dangerous as you can well imagine. Second, if any among them are believers in Christ they may not join him for trolls can smell the blood of Christians, it's true. All confirm they are non-believers but one among them is not forthcoming and it proves disastrous to their well being. They must also mask their natural body odor by smearing themselves in the putrid gelatinous essence of troll stench, which seemed pretty gross. Having sworn to obey his every word, disavowing Christ and covered in smelly goo the trio keeps the film running while he tracks and kills several species of troll which range from the 20ft. tall, three-headed variety to the enormous twenty story tall mountain troll. Along the way he expands on the mythology of the trolls with some cool references to Scandinavian folklore, it's captivating stuff.

The Norwegian mountains and wilderness makes for a gorgeous setting, the lush green gorges, rocky outcroppings, waterfalls and snowy landscapes go a long way towards creating a setting in which one can truly believe in the fantastical, it brings trolls from the fairy tales into the modern age, I totally bought into it. The night scenes filmed deep in the wilderness and lit by the glow of moon are truly magical and eerie, there is some seriously fine world building and mythology transpiring on screen.

Good acting all around but the film is anchored by Hans (Jespersen), the craggy, bearded trollhunter  whom completely sold the realism of the situation for me. He trucks around the Norwegian hills in a custom SUV dragging a camper behind it with protective armament's and charms, his weapon of choice, a super-powerful ultra-violet light canon which either turns trolls to stone or causes them to explode, depending on the species. His vehicle is marred by the scars of troll battle, huge claw marks, tears and gashes cover it's exterior, and does his own storied face.

The trolls look fantastic, obviously they're digital renderings but are quite well done and manage not to draw too much attention to themselves, very natural for the most part. These creatures come right off the pages of a dark  fairytales, only way more menacing, these are great creature designs. The film's is also not wanting for action, as the group flee from trolls through the Scandinavian forest it's pretty harrowing stuff, a ground shaking fun time.

It's actually quite rare I get a screener that I can enjoy with my kids, ages eleven and twelve, so it was a real treat to throw this on and watch it with 'em with a nice big bowl of buttered popcorn, much like myself they were completely enthralled from start to finish... should I tell them trolls don't really exist? Nah. 

DVD: The films looks pretty good, it's grainy, the night scenes particularly, but the colors pop and the cinematography stays within it's cinema verite concept but it's not too shaky. The 5.1 sound design is pretty great and definitely pulls you into the fantastical reality as the trolls call out into the night, it gave the surrounds quite a work. There's a decent amount of features on the disc but they're not outstanding, interesting, but not what I would call essential viewing. We get nearly 40 minutes of deleted scenes, bloopers, extended scenes, a nifty visual effects featurette (with no audio) plus a behind-the-scenes mini doc, good breezy stuff. These are presented 16x9 enhanced widescreen with Norwegian audio and optional English subtitles. The last of the features include a HDNet featurette and a collection of Magnolia trailers.

- Deleted Scenes (3:34)
- Improv and Bloopers (2:06)
- Extended Scenes (7:54)
- Visual Effects (6:06)
- Behind the Scenes (23:23)
- Photo Galleries
- HDNet: A  Look at Trollhunter (4:20)

VERDICT: Last year's MONSTERS (2010) was a like-minded cinema verite style film that I quite enjoyed but those neon-alien-squids just don't stand a chance against these Norwegian trolls, this is right up there with REC. (2007), CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) in my opinion. A definite recommend from me, worth a purchase sight unseen.