Overseen by director Guillermo del Toro and based on a book he co-wrote with Daniel Kraus, Trollhunters, premiering Friday on Netflix, is a handsome-looking animated series. It’s about Jim, a typical high school youth who finds an amulet that automatically makes him “chosen” to assume the mantle of Trollhunter — a protector, not an actual hunter, of trolls. Who’s trying to hunt down and destroy trolls? A group of huge evil trolls such as Bular, voiced by Ron Perlman.
Trollhunters, co-produced by DreamWorks Animation, comes in handy, bite-size, less-than-half-hour episodes that initially play up the contrast between supernatural danger and the more common yet also stressful challenges of high school life. Jim is a good central figure for both scenarios, voiced by Anton Yelchin, in one of his final roles. Yelchin’s familiar hoarse croak of a voice is perfect for Jim, who’s as worried about impressing a girl he has a crush on as he is in confronting massive villain trolls.
Jim is helped, on the human side, by his buddy Toby (Charlie Saxton, voice), with whom we get a lot of too-easy fat jokes. On the troll side, his ally is Blinky, a multiple-eyed troll who’s graced by the rumbling baritone of Kelsey Grammer.
There’s not much verbal wit in Trollhunters — the jokes are pitched to a kid audience that has probably heard better ones in DreamWorks feature films such as How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek. But it looks terrific, with sleek animation that moves back and forth between human and troll worlds with fluid skill. Trollhunters is something to keep in mind over the holidays, some fun escapism that’s easy to dive into.
Trollhunters premieres Friday, Dec. 23, on Netflix.