When the Arcane Order of primordial wizards (Kay Bess, Piotr Michael) kidnaps earth-spirit Nari (Angel Lin) in order to open a magical seal that would awaken the three Titans and cleanse the Earth of human life for a new world order, the first human Trollhunter aka human teenager Jim (Emile Hirsch), along with his human and magical allies, including the many-eyed troll mentor Blinky (Kelsey Grammer) and his former bully Steve (Steven Yeun), must set out to defend the Earth from the Titans.
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this feature length finale to the Tales of Arcadia franchise, which not only includes the Trollhunters television series but also its spin-offs 3Below and Wizards, begins at a breakneck pace and continues in much the same vein. Explosive action sequences are intercut with, and followed by, a myriad of plot threads that stack up one after another which will leave the average novice viewer feeling more than a little confused.
However, a handy prologue that recaps the events of the preceding series helps to prevent the new viewer from feeling completely lost, and the performances from the main cast provide an endearing effect through their enthusiastic performances. Whilst it’s hard to single out any one performance for praise, Hirsch, Grammer and the ever-dependable Brian Blessed as jovial elderly dragon Charlemagne are particularly adept at realising their characters, with their love of the material coming across in every line reading.
The action sequences themselves are also well-realised, with the opening battle on a subway train as well as the attempts from the Trollhunters to take down the Titans containing a great deal of intricate fight choreography and colourful explosions and spells that will keep children engaged and entertained. In particular, the battle between a Titan and a giant robot mirrors similar conflicts in del Toro’s Pacific Rim films, allowing for a greater, quasi-epic scope to be provided to the proceedings with its shots of the two colossi squaring off against an urban backdrop.
In addition, the production design is impressive, with the contrast between the human world and the fantastical lands being well-defined. A good example is the Chinese-inspired troll society in Hong Kong that the protagonists must venture into, which merges its visual inspirations of Chinese architecture and street culture with a more alien quality without the two stylistic aspects ever seeming to clash with one another.
A negative aspect of the multiple plot threads and need to maintain an epic scale is that tonal shifts are frequent and jarring. Serious plot developments sit alongside cheesy slapstick routines and more ‘gross-out’ moments, such as Steve’s pregnancy, which somewhat detracts from the dramatic high stakes of the plot. However, Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans manages to overcome these flaws and provide an enjoyable experience for both fans and non-fans of the Tales of Arcadia franchise.
Available on Netflix now