The Boxtrolls

"Extraordinary"

The Boxtrolls Review


A triumph on a variety of levels, this staggeringly detailed stop-motion animation has a wonderfully deranged story packed with spirited characters. It also takes on some seriously important issues without ever getting heavy-handed about it. So while we're laughing at the astounding visual mayhem, there's plenty of depth to keep our brains spinning. And what the film has to say about communal paranoia is vitally important in today's world.

The story takes place a decade after a baby was kidnapped by the Boxtrolls, nighttime scavengers who prowl by night. Over the last 10 years, their legend has grown, and the people are now terrified of being eaten. So the red-hatted Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and his sidekicks (Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan) set a goal to exterminate the trolls in exchange for prestigious white hats, which will let them join Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) for his evening cheese-tasting events. Then Portley-Rind's daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) spots a boy among the Boxtrolls, learning that Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is actually the kidnapped baby. And that Boxtrolls aren't actually villains at all. But can she get her father to pay attention to her for even a moment, so he can understand that Snatcher is the real bad guy?

Everything on-screen is in constant motion, with cluttered scenes that are a feast for the eyes. Action sequences are complicated and layered, drawing the eye all over the screen as the stakes grow higher with each scene. The mechanical climax feels like one step too far, but the filmmakers keep the focus tightly on the characters, each of whom has a bundle of quirks and obsessions that make them flawed and likeable. Even the nefarious Snatcher has a soft side, and Kingsley has a great time bringing out each aspect of the hilariously vile character, including his scene-stealing alter ego, the fabulous drag queen Madame Frou Frou.

The Boxtrolls themselves are pretty adorable too, with their gremlin-like faces, Minion-like gibberish dialogue and the way they hide in their boxes until any threat passes. Of course, they now need to stop hiding and take action, and the animators outdo themselves with the design and imagery. Their painstaking work is glimpsed in a wonderful closing-credits sequence that amusingly touches on another of the film's running themes: the meaning of existence. But the biggest kick here is the reminder that we should always question what people tell us, looking for the truth in the world rather than accepting partisan propaganda. This is an unusually important message for a kids' movie, and the fact that this film weaves it into its general fabric rather than shouting it loudly makes the movie an instant classic.



The Boxtrolls

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th September 2014

Box Office USA: $49.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $60M

Budget: $100.7M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Laika Entertainment, Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi

Producer: David Bleiman Ichioka, Travis Knight

Starring: Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs, as Archibald Snatcher, as Winnie Portley-Rind, as Herbert Trubshaw, as Lady Portley-Rind, as Lord Portley-Rind, as Mr. Trout, as Mr. Gristle, as Mr. Pickles

Also starring:

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