Hilda and the Mountain King review: Season 2 ends with a movie about troll life

It’s tough to think of a situation more frightening than saving your kid from particular risk, then getting up the next early morning to discover a complete stranger’s kid oversleeping her bed. That’s precisely what takes place at the end of the 2nd season of Netflix’s important animated program Hilda. Fans have actually been awaiting a year now to see that cliffhanger dealt with.

At the start of Hilda and the Mountain King, the movie that caps the series’ 2nd season, Hilda has actually ended up being a giant, while Baba, the changeling troll-baby left in her location, has actually ended up being a human young child. Baba’s mom utilized giant magic to switch the 2, wishing to supply her child with the comfy life of a human. Hilda gets up in the giants’ cavern home, with a body made from stone. Baba gets up in Hilda’s bed, a fantastic shock to Hilda’s mom, who invests the remainder of the episode frantically looking for her child. The movie is an exceptional feature-length Hilda episode, however the 84-minute runtime likewise enables it to raise the stakes of the subtle series properly, dealing with a few of the long-lasting secrets at the core of Trolberg.

It’s tough not to miss out on the familiar galavanting-around-Trolberg shenanigans that a complete season of the program would provide. However troll-human dispute has actually constantly been at the heart of the program, so it’s excellent to see Mountain King lastly dealing with the secrets around it. The film draws on the familiar rhythm of a Hilda episode — Hilda has actually gotten into trouble, and has to use her bravery and cunning to work out a solution. The movie focuses on a question that’s constantly underpinned the series: why trolls live around the city of Trolberg, in spite of humanity’s obvious antagonism against them.

Hilda has always had an interest in trolls, starting with the series pilot, where she sketches one in her forest home. After moving to Trolberg, she increasingly advocates for trolls’ well-being, pushing back against the taskforce that “protects” the city. Troll-human tensions have ratcheted up slowly throughout Hilda’s two seasons, whether the conflicts are humming in the background, or taking center stage as the subject of an episode.

Hilda holding up a large boulder

Image: Netflix

As a human, Hilda pushed to ask questions about things the city residents took as givens — primarily, why Trolberg uses bells to “protect” their residents, when they obviously cause trolls so much pain. In her new troll form, Hilda gets a firsthand understanding of the grievances trolls have, and the variation — in physical form and beliefs — within their community. Some of these divergences are goofy, as many of them collect specific items like “soft bedding” or “teapots and mugs.” Some of them are terrifying, as in the trolls who wish to collectively destroy Trolberg, vs. those who simply wish to live undisturbed. She also learns that living as a troll is genuinely fun. They’re incredibly strong, with bodies that are more durable than human bodies. Their hobbies include “throwing each other,” which allows them to soar through the air. As an explorer, these are all qualities Hilda prizes.

It also turns out trolls and humans have commonalities: Both the troll mother and Hilda’s mom wish to reunite with their daughters, even though the troll-mother made the swap in the first place. Much of the film hinges on this storytelling parallel, the “finding similarities” trope that’s common in children’s media, and which often creates the conditions for a simple, positive resolution. But where children’s media often uses this idea to create a false sense of equality between two factions — even if one of them is the aggressor and oppressor — Mountain King pulls no punches. It refuses this false dichotomy by making it clear humans have caused trolls very real suffering. It shows trolls as a broader community that deserves compassion, even as some of them have responded to humans with violence. Those humans goaded the trolls into violent reprisals, taking advantage of them in order to respond with further harm.

Hilda is still a kids’ program, and Hilda still does save the day. Her friends Frida and David spend much of the movie fighting a campaign that seeks to portray trolls as threatening and violent, in order to justify lethal force against them. The heft and gravitas of the story round it out to a solid wrap for season 2, especially in its payoff to the groundwork laid previously: A girl moves to a new city. First it changes her, then she and her friends change it in turn. In this well-orchestrated narrative clarity, with its sharp plotting, the movie loses a bit of the show’s spontaneity and unpredictability. Still, it’s short and sweet.

Hilda, her mom, dog Twig, Baba, and her troll mother

Image: Netflix

It’s hard not to miss the goofier, out-of-pocket antics of regular episodes of Hilda, which not only offer that variety, but also considerably lighten the mood. Mountain King has its jokes and moments of levity, but its overall tone is more consistently dark, veering briefly into kid-friendly horror. (Though the entire movie is arguably a kid’s horror story — being separated from a primary caretaker can be a terrifying prospect for a child, as Disney has actually long recognized.)

More than anything, Hilda and the Mountain King sets the stage for Hilda’s third season, given the potential of its world. The film opens the door to dozens of new questions and adventures. How will the townspeople — who aren’t particularly known for their open-mindedness — react to the changes that take place in this motion picture? What adventures will Hilda and her pals get up to next? It all leaves me itching for more ensemble experiences, more Sparrow Scout badges, more wild animals to fulfill, and eventually, more area invested in this world I’ve pertained to enjoy.

Hilda and the Mountain King is now streaming on Netflix.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.