Boxtrolls, The

the-boxtrolls-poster

Release date: September 26, 2014
Directed by: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable
Novel by: Alan Snow
Screenplay by: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Cast: Isaac Hempstead, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg

Over the last few years, Laika has managed to give us off-beat animated movies that stand more as pieces of art in motion, than actual stories, I think. Maybe it’s just me, but neither of their previous works have managed to move me the same way other simpler-looking animated movies like Colorful or Leafie: A Hen into the Wild did- The Fox and the Hound kills me, guys… though ParaNorman has been moving up in the emotional scale. It doesn’t seem to be different with The Boxtrolls.

However, in a movie distribution world dominated by CGI animation, how can one miss the chance to watch one of them “major” stop-motion releases… even if it’s the dubbed version. Based on Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is set in the town of Cheesebridge (Quesadilla in the latino dub!) in the 1800s. Rumor has it that the city is plagued by little creatures known as Boxtrolls, small monsters that wear boxes and live under the city, who come out to the surface each night taking away whatever knick-knacks they’re able to find or unscrew. One eventful night, Red-Hat Archibald Snatcher (Kingsley, brilliantly translated to Archibaldo Hurtado xD and voiced by Juan Manuel Bernal) informs cheese-loving White-Hat aristocrat Lord Portley-Rind (Harris) that Boxtrolls had kidnapped and devoured a baby, while threatening to eat the town’s pricey stash of cheese. Scared out of his wits, Lord Portley-Rind agrees to the terms for Archibald’s plans for social-climbing if only he rids Cheesebridge off its troll plague.

The rest of the story is, of course, for you to discover.

This is actually the first stop-motion animation that I decided to watch in 3D, and I did feel like I lost a lot of the textured details of the sets and characters, which I love from Laika compared to the smooth layouts of other types of renders. Though the animation and effects aren’t as flashy as ParaNorman‘s were, the company has kept the standard high. Plus, you gotta give them props for a history of design that isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill cuddly supporting filler character so prevalent in mainstream children’s films; each one of the Boxtrolls have their distinct grotesque -albeit never forgetting their own cuteness- flavor.

Storytelling-wise, I thought the movie lacked a little emotional punch even though my adult-brain told me there were a lot of grown-up themes and metaphors. I saw a lot of comments on how it mirrored a lot of the happenings during the Holocaust, though my mind never went there. I felt it did show a lot of social struggle, after all Archibald’s goal is to become a White-Hat and attend the elite’s cheese-tasting despite his own genetic weakness, as well as mirrored a lot of aspects seen in the political arena told with a lot of sarcasm underneath the theme of outcasts clearing their names and finding their way.

A lot of the success of the film relies on its Bad Guy, and Archibald doesn’t exactly terrorize (like Doctor Facilier in The Princess and the Frog) but presents himself as a sneaky villain whom we want to -maybe- see reach a greater status (until we see him for his true colors), because we can’t really sympathize with snobbish pricks who ignore their children (the gore-thirsty Winnie, voiced by Fanning and Melissa Gedeón) and steal the town’s hospital budget to buy expensive cheese. However, his desire for power and recognition is so great that it ultimately destroys him.

I enjoy thinking about it even in its dub, so I can’t wait to check it out on its original audio. In the meantime, extra quarter of star!

Also~ stay for a little cute post-credit scene.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Does ANYBODY know if these sets by Snap Creative [1][2][3] are available in any shop? Or were they just commissioned for giveaways?

amy

YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

15 Responses

  1. Sounds like I should see it because I love stop motion even if it’s not amazing. I still haven’t finished ParaNorman and I tried twice. I don’t know what it was, but I just wasn’t getting into it.

    • amy says:

      I was skeptical about ParaNorman, but liked it quite a bit. And I’ve enjoyed it a bit more each time I’ve watched it. I liked the relationship with his grandma, as well as the connection with Agatha. I felt Boxtrolls was pretty dark with its humor and themes, I laughed so much with Fanning’s character twisted imagination… and everything that kept Archibald going.

    • Rodrigo says:

      You might get to enjoy it, but maybe you could get a bit turned off because you might find the Boxtrolls a bit similar to the Minions. Still, Boxtrolls is a really great film to watch with great characters and adult themes present, and the same goes for ParaNorman.

      • amy says:

        Did you go for 3D or 2D?

      • I’m cool with the Minions as far as your corporate conglomerate cartoon franchises go and it seems like the Boxtrolls are more the indie/arthouse version. yeah?

        • amy says:

          I thought they had a reasonable character arc. They’re cute, but they also grow… and sorta save the day! They’re not as giggly as the minions, though. The sound design for minions is so damn contagious.

        • Rodrigo says:

          You could say that. But this a success in animated films that can entertain both kids and parents, mostly the latter. A problem wiht Laika would be that their films are kinda tough to sell towards little kids, and I had that problem with my little brother. 2 years ago, he didn’t find ParaNorman interesting, but he had interest in Hotel Ttansylvania and he enjoyed it. Now, he’s grown up (afe of 6), but I didn’t asked him to see this one together.

          • amy says:

            And we’re not even parents. I always read about complaints parents make with Laika movies LOL I think they found Coraline too scary, but the biggest WTF issue was when Mitch (Casey Affleck) nonchalantly came out as having a boyfriend. In this one, it’s the whole Archibald is Hitler and Boxtrolls are Jews that are being capture and told to work in secret factories, so my child ain’t seeing that!

            I think ParaNorman would be a little to much for a 4-year-old though. My nephew watched it with me when he was five, and I had to show him the Making Of so he could see it was all puppets. xD His sis is 8 now (and generally more movie-involved), and wanted to watch both Book of Life and Boxtrolls based on commercials though. But I think Boxtrolls has a little too much dark humor.

            I don’t remember much, but I’m pretty sure I was like 6 when I first went to the movies. I recall watching both Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin at the theater, but I recall sleeping through either one of them or probably both. Then there’s, of course, Jurassic Park.

            Oh! and I probably watched Burton’s Batman Returns at the theater as well, but all I remember from that time is my cousin (at probably 2 or 3 years old) shouting at the screen “Batmannnnnnn, Gatubelaaaaaaa” LOL

  1. October 31, 2014

    […] The BoxTrolls is still set for a September 26, 2014 release. […]

  2. October 31, 2014

    […] The BoxTrolls is directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, and stars the vocal talents of Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Jared Harris. The film premieres on September 26, 2014. […]

  3. November 27, 2014

    […] Wall, it’s the best animation of the year so far, beating out some of my favorites like The Boxtrolls, Until Sbornia Do Us Part or The Boy and the World. Following many of the aesthetics of […]

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