Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (2021)
Over the last thirty years, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has made a name for himself by crafting Hollywood’s most well recognized tales surrounding fantastic creatures. Now, del Toro has brought his vision into the animated realm with his latest project, “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans”, a feature length film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Netflix. This movie is the epic conclusion to the Emmy winning “Tales of Arcadia” animated television franchise that premiered on Netflix in 2016.
The film focuses on Jim Lake Jr., who, much like del Toro, is no stranger to the world of mythical creatures and fantasy. At 18 years old, Jim has encountered trolls, aliens, wizards, along with other beings that have made their way into his hometown of Arcadia. Jim’s abilities to interact with such creatures arose when he discovered the Amulet of Daylight, which granted him the power to become the first human Trollhunter, defender of fantastic beings and humanity alike. However, after a life altering event destroys the amulet, Jim must test his mortality, navigate the new challenges of being the Trollhunter, and defend Arcadia, as well the world, from a new threat: primeval Titans that are thirsty for revenge on the human race.
“Rise of the Titans'' is DreamWorks Animation’s first film to have a non-theatrical release, and it has much to offer in terms of visuals, characters, and storytelling. Through the usage of vibrant colors and elements of realism, the film’s stunning animation transports viewers to many places along Jim’s travels, ranging from an underground marketplace in Hong Kong, the landscapes of Brazil, and the mythical village of Camelot. What makes the film remarkable is its ability to capture del Toro’s iconic style for creating fantastic lands and memorable creatures, while simultaneously telling a story of self-discovery and empowerment that is unique from his usual tales of dark and gothic environments. “Rise of the Titans'' succeeds in presenting viewers with unique characters, and not simply in the form of mythical beings, but also in terms of diverse backgrounds and character arcs. Jim’s long term girlfriend, Claire Nuñez, is a fierce leader, who provides a strong representation of both the female and Hispanic communities. Toby Domzalski, who as Jim himself says is his strongest source of “moral support”, uses his loyalty and bravery to demonstrate the importance of not underestimating the underdog. While the movie does have unexpected and zany humor scattered throughout it, it never loses sight of the heart and story that drew audiences in for previous installments of the animated franchise. Like many series with a large fanbase, the final installment in the “Tales of Arcadia” franchise has been met with much audience discussion as to whether Jim’s adventures reached the proper conclusion. However, while viewers may want to explore Jim’s story even further, one thing that is not up for debate is that the film brings the young Trollhunter’s journey to a close in an emotional, full circle manner. With a runtime of 107 minutes, “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans”is DreamWorks Animation’s longest film to date, and in true del Toro fashion, it will emotionally invest audiences and enchant them in a world of fantasy for every minute of it.