REVIEW: ‘Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans’ Is a Beautiful and Moving Conclusion To The Arcadia Saga

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Trollhunters Rise of the Titans - But Why Tho

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans is a Netflix Original Film produced by Dreamworks Animation and based on the Netflix series Trollhunters3Below and Wizards created by Guillermo del Toro. Taking place shortly after the end of Wizards, the film sees Trollhunter Jim Lake (Emile Hirsch) drawn into battle against the Arcane Order, who seek to awaken three Titans that will remake the world and in the process cleanse it of humanity. Joined by wizard Hisirdoux “Douxie” Casperan (Colin O’Donoghue), his best friend Toby (Charlie Saxton) and girlfriend Claire (Lexi Medrano), and Akiridions Krel (Diego Luna) and Aja Tarron (Tatiana Maslany), Jim embarks on a globetrotting adventure to halt the Titans’ path of destruction.

Trollhunters originally began life as an animated feature film, so it makes sense that the Tales of Arcadia trilogy would conclude with a feature film. What impresses me is how Rise of the Titans is both friendly to new viewers and a love letter to fans who have been invested in the Arcadia saga for the beginning. There’s even a dual narration from Jim and his troll mentor Blinky (Kelsey Grammar) that recaps the events of all three series to date. To incorporate characters and plot threads from three different television series is an undertaking that few creatives could handle, but del Toro and his team are more than up to the task.

That team consists of screenwriters Dan & Kevin Hageman and Marc Guggenheim, who wrote the screenplay with del Toro and serve as executive producers on Rise of the Titans. The Hageman brothers served as executive producers and writers on Trollhunters, with Guggenheim (no stranger to crafting universes himself, thanks to his work on the CW’s DC Universe shows) writing and producing for all three Tales of Arcadia series. Thus, they have a strong handle on the characters and where to take them. The script also manages to juggle the large cast of characters quite well, giving every major character at least one big action moment and one immensely emotional moment. And make no mistake: Rise of the Titans is packed full of emotion. Characters revel in victory, are pierced through the heart with loss, and even die throughout the film’s runtime. As someone who has been watching Trollhunters since its debut, I’m not afraid to say that I shed a tear or two while watching.

The character who arguably has the most screentime and character development is Jim, which is fitting since he is essentially the character who jumpstarted the Tales of Arcadia saga. Having lost his Trollhunter amulet and abilities during the events of Wizards, Jim struggles to prove that he is still a hero. The film puts him through a lot; without magic armor and swords, he is more susceptible to injury. Yet in spite of being outclassed by the forces of the Arcane Order, he continues to soldier on. And he gets a final fight scene that is truly epic, reaffirming that no matter what, he’ll always be a Trolhunter.

Another standout element of Rise of the Titans is its action sequences and visuals. Directors Johane Matte, Francisco Ruiz Velasco, and Andrew L. Schmidt craft the most impressive sequences I’ve seen in an animated feature since Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, especially where the Titans are concerned. Crafted out of massive blocks of ice, moss-covered stones, and a literal volcano, they lumber across the world and leave a trail of destruction in their path. A fight between one of the Titans and an Akridion robot piloted by Varvatos Vex (Nick Offerman) also doubles as a loving homage to del Toro’s Pacific Rim, complete with a Hong Kong setting.

The visuals also feel sharper and more tangible than in the Tales of Arcadia series, no doubt due to the fact that this is a feature film. Viewers will be able to pick out different details such as the scars on Jim’s face, the stony texture of Blinky and AAARRRGGHH!!!’s (Fred Tatasciore) skin, and even the faint glow that Krel and Aja give off while in their Akridion forms. Different characters also had different colors for their respective clothing/armor/powersets: Jim wears mostly blue, Toby wears red and orange, and Claire wears purple. It’s a neat way to differentiate between all the characters’ various skill sets, and also provides a variety of colors that are visually pleasing.

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans is a beautiful and heartwrenching conclusion to Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia saga, and is a recommended watch for fans old and new. With the debut of this film, I feel confident in saying that the Tales of Arcadia saga deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation as Avatar: The Last Airbender and Justice League Unlimited when it comes to great animated series.

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans will be available to stream on Wednesday, July 21 on Netflix.

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
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TL;DR

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans is a beautiful and heartwrenching conclusion to Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia saga, and is a recommended watch for fans old and new. With the debut of this film, I feel confident in saying that the Tales of Arcadia saga deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation as Avatar: The Last Airbender and Justice League Unlimited when it comes to great animated series.