STORY WRITTEN BY ROB LOWMAN
Southern California News Group
The DreamWorks animated family series “Trollhunters,” from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, begins with a couple of trolls fighting beneath a modern-day bridge. One is in shining silver armor, the other in black; so we know which is the good one is. They are fighting over an amulet.
Later, when a 15-year-old boy named Jim, being raised by a single mom, finds the amulet under the bridge, he thinks it is talking to him. Like other teen boys, he dreams of adventure and he also has a crush on a classmate, Claire.
That night a four-armed troll named Blinky (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) shows up and starts calling him Master Jim, explaining that there is a vast civilization of trolls lurking beneath and he has been chosen to be the Trollhunter, their first human protector.
Protector from what? Bad trolls, like the evil Bular (Ron Perlman) and goblins and other scary creatures.
Freaked out, Jim (the late Anton Yelchin) faints, but the next day after reciting the words “For the glory of Merlin, daylight is mine to command” found on the amulet, he is suddenly encased in his own shiny silver armor.
“Don’t think, Jim. Become,” advises Blinky, who evolves into something of a mentor to him. The troll tells him to train to be a warrior, something that will take decades but he only has days to do. Soon the teen has the adventure he wants, embroiling his best friend Toby (Charlie Saxton), who’s there for comic relief, and Claire (Lexi Medrano).
“Trollhunters,” available Friday on Netflix, has a nice vibe to it. There is an ‘80s “Goonies” flair, but it is also has intelligence and flashes of wit, such as when a creature hums “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg as it goes in for a kill, or when Toby finds out Juliet dies in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Otherwise “Trollhunters” follows the formula for these sorts of stories, uncomfortable teen by day and superhero at night.
Former Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas is the showrunner for the 26-part series, which boasts a high cinematic visual quality.The show also keeps the stakes high for Jim, but in a PG sort of way. Still, every once in a while, “Trollhunters” gives a peek into del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” side without being too dark.