Today, Netflix released Troll – a mythological action adventure movie where a 150-foot troll menaces Norway. It is almost beat for beat (and in places shot for shot) an American Godzilla movie, but with charmingly naive Norwegian humour in place of brash American ‘irony’. Government officials and the military struggle to stop the monster, and just as with the American versions of Godzilla, the real life military helped to make Troll.
But not the American military, no no, Troll represents the debut of the Norwegian armed forces into the military-monster movie genre. They play a big role in the story – one of the main characters is Captain Kris, who looks every bit like the Scandinavian recruitment poster boy that he surely is.
When the Troll initially emerges from inside a mountain in the very pretty area of Dovre, we see Norwegian F-35s taking off to fly over the scene and capture footage of the wreckage the monster has left behind. A military helicopter collects our protagonist, a paleontologist whose father was obsessed with Troll mythology, and flies her, Captain Kris and a senior government advisor around the country, examining giant footprints and the like.
As the plot picks up, the military make several efforts to overcome the Troll (who looks exactly like the trolls in Trollhunter), all of which fail miserably, in typical monster movie fashion. We see helicopters, tanks, artillery trucks and shoulder-mounted rockets in multiple sequences.
Naturally, I suspected that all this hardware must have come from the Norwegian military themselves, especially given the prominent and heroic role they play in the plot, both in evacuating Oslo and then helping take down the Troll in a park. So I checked the credits and despite the language barrier, it’s clear enough:
Alongside the Oslo Politi (Oslo police) the Spesiell Takk (special thanks) go to the Ørlandet flystasjon (a Norwegian air force base), Defence communications chief Eystein Kvarving, spokesperson for the armed forces Thomas Gjesdal and Vice Admiral Louise Dedichen. Also thanked are several members of the Norwegian Civil Defence. In particular, Dedichen is the head of Norway’s military mission in Brussels, and is the first woman on NATO’s military committee. I am not suggesting NATO’s next fictional enemy will be Norwegian trolls, but it is strange to see such a high ranking NATO officer credited on a movie, let alone a silly creature feature.
Naturally, I will by FOIA-ing the Norwegian military to try to find if they had any input on the script, but two obvious points stand out: (1) a blonde, female nerdy military character in the control bunker who plays a critical role in saving the day and (2) a Muslim Home Guard officer who helps Captain Kris carry out the paleontologist’s plan to defeat the Troll. When he first shows up, Kris says ‘salaam alaikum’ to him, showing just how welcome Norway’s Muslim population are in their armed forces. If I had to guess, this was something jammed in for recruitment and integration purposes, because it’s clunky and out of place, like so many dialogue moments written by government officials.
Putting aside these military messages, Troll is a solid EuroGodzilla which is familiar and fresh at the same time. I know it’s not a high bar, but I found it far more watchable than any of the American Godzillas, and if nothing else there’s a lot of gentle Norwegian countryside to look at.