How much of the journey is worth it when you’re scratching your head at the destination? That’s the question one must confront in Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans. Originating from the book series created by del Toro and Daniel Kaus, 2016 series Trollhunters kicked off Tales of Arcadia as part of Netflix’s quest to produce original animation for children. You don’t go into Trollhunters and its two series successors, 3Below and Wizards, expecting form-breaking storytelling for Western children’s cartoons, but each series had plenty to offer: Del Toro’s colorful realms with their own mythology, slapstick one-liners in the midst of swordplay, and colorful creatures from lovable AAARRRGGHH (Fred Tatasciore) to the paternal Blinky (Kelsey Grammar) with his teacher bravado.
All set in the sleepy town of Arcadia, Trollhunters explored the mounting responsibilities of a Chosen-One mantle held by a human boy Jim (Emile Hirsch), 3Below introduced a force of extraterrestrial characters in a breezy sci-fi fish-out-of-water comedy and allegory about loving our immigrant neighbors, and the stuffy one-season Wizards explored navigating—and grieving—a flawed guardian figure while hurling through Arthurian time travel shenanigans.From the mind that wove the imagination of adult-oriented Pan’s Labyrinth and Kronos, the child-friendly Tales of Arcadia contains del Toro’s signature affection for cog-twirling contraptions, mechas, magic, and creatures lurking in the underground or alleyways. In Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, the 104-minute filmic finale, our familiar gang of trolls and humans from Trollhunters, extraterrestrial pals from 3Below, and the magicians of Wizards have assembled to defeat evil.The Arcane Order of primordial wizards (Kay Bess, Piotr Michael) plots to cleanse the Earth of human life for a new world order. The Arcane Order of primordial wizards (Kay Bess, Piotr Michael) plots to cleanse the Earth of human life for a new world order. Starting with a thrilling subway skirmish of magic and portal summoning, the Order seeks to snatch earth-spirit Nari (Angel Lin) from the wizard Douxie’s (Colin O’Donoghue) protection to open a magical seal that would awaken the titans. Things go south.