DVD REVIEW: THE BOXTROLLS / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: GRAHAM ANNABLE, ANTHONY STACCHI / SCREENPLAY: IRENA BRIGNULL, ADAM PAVA / STARRING: BEN KINGSLEY, ISAAC HEMPSTEAD WRIGHT, ELLE FANNING, JARED HARRIS, NICK FROST, RICHARD AYOADE, SIMON PEGG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Animation studio LAIKA has so far produced some pretty excellent work; their 3D stop motion is distinctive and extremely pretty and their previous movies (Coraline and Paranorman) contained fresh and clever stories presented in a fantastic way. The Boxtrolls is their third feature film, and is every bit as remarkable as the last two.
The movie transports us to the town of Cheesebridge, a place controlled by the cheese-obsessed White Hats, super-privileged gentlemen who are disinterested in anything that isn’t a dairy product. Sadly, this includes their own children. Lurking beneath the streets of this odd town are the Boxtrolls; canny little beasties who love to tinker with machinery and stay hidden from people. They are so kind and careful that they have even raised an orphan child as one of their own. Of course, this baby grows up to be our main protagonist, a boy called Eggs. Unfortunately for the Boxtrolls, the nefarious Archibald Snatcher has convinced the idiotic townsfolk that the shy creatures are horrible flesh-eating monsters that must be destroyed. Snatcher (voiced by a scenery munching Ben Kingsley) wants to become a White Hat himself, and the best way for him to achieve this is to exterminate all the trolls. In true LAIKA fashion, it’s up to the children in the town to save the day.
They are enough themes and multi-layered meaning in Boxtrolls to keep a team of Media Studies students busy for days but, much like Paranorman, the movie works better if you simply sit back and take it all in. It does have some mildly scary scenes, so those with sensitive little ones may want to watch it first before showing it to their beloved spawn.
This film does lack something on the small screen; LAIKA’s attention to detail and incredibly dense visual style benefits greatly from being on the big screen. This doesn’t make the movie any less visually striking, and the animation (and character design) is beautiful (and anarchic) throughout. In addition to Ben Kingsley’s performance, Nick Frost and Richard Ayoade are also particularly memorable as the incompetent henchmen Mr Trout and Mr Pickles.
The extras are nice; the directors are quite happy to talk about their work and the various behind the scenes pieces and featurettes give us a great insight into how LAIKA pulls off its complicated movie miracles, though fans of animation won’t be particularly wowed by the features. Over all, The Boxtrolls is great fun for all the family and will certainly keep small ones quiet throughout.