The Movie Guru: “Tales of Arcadia” a fantasy/sci-fi epic worth watching
The fantasy/sci-fi epic you didn’t know you needed is waiting on Netflix.
It may look like a kids’ cartoon, but the “Tales of Arcadia” saga is actually gripping, sweet, often hilarious look at heroism, responsibility, and what it means to care about other people. The saga stretches across three series and a movie (the recently released “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans”), which together add up to more than five seasons of material. They’re all delightful on their own, but together they add up to a epic experience you won’t forget.
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia
The first series in the saga, and the foundation everything else is built on. It’s here we meet Jim Lake, Jr., a average young man who finds a medallion left behind by a heroic troll and changes his life forever. Other important figures are his best friend Toby and potential love interest Claire, both of whom will turn out to be heroes in their own right, and a host of troll characters who will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measure.
The series is two seasons long, but it feels like three – season 1 is 20 episodes instead of the usual 10. The first few episodes seem very high school focused, but if that leaves you discouraged please be patient. The story will end up blossoming into something truly beautiful.
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3Below: Tales of Arcadia
This is where the science fiction comes in. The series focuses mostly on an entirely new set of characters, aliens who are on the run from their home planet who are forced to make a temporary home on Earth. The biggest continuing thread comes in the form of Toby and the troll AAARRRGGGHH!!!!, both of whom are also main characters here, and a serious upgrade for two minor characters from “Trollhunters.” Steve, a stereotypical school bully in the original series, goes through a particularly profound character upgrade.
Wizards: Tales of Arcadia
This series mostly jumps back to the characters from “Trollhunters,” though Steve gets his own adventure and other new characters are added. It’s pretty confusing if you haven’t seen the original series, but for those who have it’s a wonderful continuation. A lot of the earlier mythology is expanded upon, Claire gets a killer storyline of her own, and Jim’s story continues to be heartbreaking in the best possible way. The ending is enough of a cliffhanger to make you want to immediately watch the follow-up movie, so make sure to plan for that when you click play.
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
It’s not easy wrapping up years of storylines, but “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans” does it beautifully. It’s more intense than the series that came before, but there are enough laughs to give you some necessary breathing room. The ending is unexpected, the kind of thing that seems questionable if you see it in print but is absolutely perfect as you watch it play out. It’s hard to satisfyingly wrap up a story this big and still leave room for the future, but “Rise of the Titans” pulls it off.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.