I love stop motion movies, with the incredible worlds they craft, the often-unique art design, and the colorful characters that act in the worlds. With movies like Paranorman, and the Corpse Bride, I was eager to check out the latest movie in this genre entitled The Boxtrolls. Like always though, my skepticism remained at large as to just how good this movie would be when looking at some of the reviews and ratings. So what was it the grand verdict? As always, read on to find out.
For those who haven’t been drowned by the deluge of trailers on T.V., the plot from the trailer is a little boy winds up adopted by the box trolls, an underground living society of tinkerers and inventors. These creatures have been branded as monsters, and thus warranted for removal by the mayor of the town. It’s up to that boy and his gang of trolls to change the town’s perspective, all without getting caught by the hunters. Sounds cute right? In truth, the movie has a bit darker quality behind it that ,although shocking, adds some spice to the mix. Now before you get caught up in the dark, the directors have tapered the darkness to a younger audience group. This reviewer didn’t see anything too grotesque, disturbing, or scary that would scar a kid for life, the exception being the bloated form of one of the characters. It does, however provide some twists to the plot, helping to develop a few of the characters who seemed one-dimensional from the trailers. Some of these twists can be a bit sad to younger audience members who may not have the foresight to see through the predictable story. So I encourage you to tell your youngsters that everything will be all right should they get upset? Overall the story is cute and fun, matching the delightfully innocent nature of the trolls.
Of course many kids will most likely not get that involved in the story, but instead be looking for the humor and laughs. From what I observed in my showing, this movie is chock full of gags and jokes that will make the young ones laugh. Characters crashing into walls, the trolls falling into an accident as a result of their curiosity, or just the sounds and facial expressions of the characters are all in this movie. Those who are not as young of heart may not appreciate the ridiculous antics of this film, either due to the lack of adult based humor, or the fact that they have seen most of these scenes in the trailers. In fact the only thing they might find funny is how ridiculous the denizens of the town are, especially the selfish nature of the aristocratic caste and their obsession with cheese. Once or twice I found myself chuckling at their obsessions, and how everything went back to the stinky dairy product. Other than that, you’re out of luck with the comedy and should maybe think of focusing on your kid’s laughter to get the most out of the experience.
My favorite part of the movie though is the world and characters themselves. The trolls in particular are truly fun and colorful, each having a personality quirk that is symbolized by the very box they wear. Like the dwarves of Snow White, these characters each serve a purpose to the group, though we really only get to see a handful do anything in the short time limit. While they also look very similar, the team did put individual qualities to them, helping them stand out a bit. The humans in this movie are all comically built, many having some grandiose feature that seemed to match the nature of the town. Of course Eggs, the main character, and his female friend Winnie have the most diversity of the group, which is to be expected from the main protagonist. Even the town is fun, as both above and below ground aspects have that same Tim Burton like flare that got us hooked on stop motion long ago. The buildings are angular and boxed in, designed to look like a town built inside a castle, with a few regal qualities to smooth out the slums of this English like town. Underground though is where the real magic is. Here the creativity of the team shines the most, with the boxtrolls treasures being arranged in a mosaic of mechanical inventions that make them almost a self-contained ecosystem. It’s colorful, it’s fun, and it’s creative, all components I like to see in my set design. Everything comes together nicely, and the animation is almost flawless throughout the film, only occasionally stumbling or choppy at parts.
The Boxtrolls is definitely not the most unique movie I’ve ever seen. A predictable plot with obvious character directions take away from the excitement of the story, and the lack of adult humor limits the audience members who may enjoy it. However, this is a stop motion adventure that is fun, and well designed to keep you into the film, helping to offset the boring aspects of the movie. Again this is a bit darker than some of the other animated films for kids, but I don’t see it being a problem for most. Is it worth a trip to the theater? For this reviewer, I think it is fun, though I don’t know about the 3-D quality and how much it adds so you’re on your own. Yet, there is really nothing special that a home theater system couldn’t bring you into. My scores for this movie are:
Movie Overall: 7.0