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Five Views: The Boxtrolls

September 29, 2014

The Boxtrolls Poster

The Boxtrolls – An eOne Films Release

Release Date: September 26th, 2014
Rated PG for some scary scenes
Running Time: 97 minutes

Graham Annable (director)
Anthony Stacchi (director)

Irena Brignull (screenplay)
Adam Pava (screenplay)

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

Dario Marianelli (music)

Ben Kingsley as Archibald Snatcher (voice)
Jared Harris as Lord Portley-Rind (voice)
Nick Frost as Mr. Trout (voice)
Richard Ayoade as Mr. Pickles (voice)
Tracy Morgan as Mr. Gristle (voice)
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs (voice)
Elle Fanning as Winnie (voice)
Maurice LaMarche as Sir Langsdale (voice)
Toni Collette as Lady Portley-Rind (voice)
Simon Pegg as Herbert Trubshaw (voice)

The Boxtrolls

Eggs (Isaac Hemstead Wright) surrounds himself with Boxtrolls in The Boxtrolls.

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The Boxtrolls Review By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The latest stop motion film from the geniuses at Laika, the same animation studio that gave us Coraline and ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls is another marvellously entertaining and very charming visual feast in the same vein as those two modern classics.

Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a boy who has been raised by Boxtrolls, a group of oddly endearing and strangely adorable little creatures led by the loyal Fish, who live in the sewers clothed in cardboard boxes, inventing things using junk that they find on the streets.  But the people aboveground in the dairy obsessed town of Cheesebridge fear the Boxtrolls, hiring scheming exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to capture them.  But when Winnie (Elle Fanning), the daughter of the powerful Lord Portly-Rind (Jared Harris), stumbles upon their underground home, they uncover a sinister plot that might just bridge the gap between humans and Boxtrolls.

The screenplay offers interesting allegories of classism, with the rich upper class wearing white hats that are coveted by the red hat wearing middle class, all the way down to the Boxtrolls, who represent those living in poverty who are therefore at the bottom of the social ladder.  The story also has a poignant heart, with touching messages about adoption and the importance of accepting differences.  This is all done with a quirky sense of dark humour that is reminiscent of Monty Python, right down to the final dispensing of the villain.

Filled with sharp verbal and visual puns and idiosyncratic little touches, The Boxtrolls is an absolute feast for the eyes, boasting tremendously detailed stop motion animation.  There is a wonderfully tactile feel to the handmade characters and sets, and every frame is visually arresting, filled with invention and something to see.  This is a wildly entertaining and also heartfelt film, culminating with perhaps the cleverest end credits scene of the year.

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The Boxtrolls Review By Erin V.

★★★★ (out of 4)

From the studio that made Coraline and ParaNorman comes The Boxtrolls – an offbeat, clever film with enough weirdness to fit right into this time of year.

The Boxtrolls takes place in the town of Cheesebridge, where exterminators hunt Boxtrolls after an imposed curfew for citizens at night.  This all started ten years prior when a baby was reported kidnapped by the trolls, never to be seen again.  Little do the residents know, that baby is now a 10-year-old boy named ‘Eggs’ (Isaac Hempsted-Wright) who has been lovingly raised in the sewers by the Boxtrolls. Eggs considers the Boxtrolls his family, and Boxtroll ‘Fish’ (Dee Bradley Baker) a father-figure.  (All the Boxtrolls are named after the image on the boxes they wear, eggs, fish, shoe, etc.)

Meanwhile, up on the street level the head of the exterminators, Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) is obsessed with destroying the Boxtrolls and earning the level of power that will make him worthy of the ‘white hats’ of society.  When Winnie (Elle Fanning), daughter of the head of the White Hats finds her curiosity leading her to discover the truth about the Boxtrolls, it is up to her and Eggs to figure out a way for the people and Boxtrolls to realize that they don’t need to fear each other any more.

The film is charming, impeccably animated by the stop-motion geniuses at Laika, and extremely witty and well-written.  The messages of making the choice to be who you are and standing up for yourself are powerful, and will connect to many viewers.  The film is not for the youngest of audiences, since it is quite strange and a little dark at times, but those 10 and up should enjoy it.  And for the adults in the audience, the film provides plenty to look at, and be entertained by.  I was fully engaged from start to finish and would gladly see The Boxtrolls again at some point.  With a film like this, there are always new details to catch on consecutive viewings.  Be sure to stay during the end credits as well.

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The Boxtrolls Review By Nicole

★★★★ (out of 4)

Loosely inspired by Alan Snow’s whimsical children’s book Here Be Monsters, The Boxtrolls is a wonderful fable about family.  The story takes place in Cheesebridge, a fictional Victorian town where the elite Whitehats eat all the cheese they want, while the Redhats get hardly anything.  The lowest class are the Boxtrolls; friendly blue-green creatures who live underground and build their village out of whatever they find.  One of their “finds” is a human boy whom they named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright).  (All Boxtrolls are named after the boxes they wear.)

The humans, however, think the Boxtrolls kidnapped and killed a boy years ago.  Redhat Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and his henchmen run a Boxtroll exterminating business, in hopes of becoming Whitehats.  Things start to really unfold when Winnie (Elle Fanning), the daughter of Whitehat Lord Portly-Rind (Jared Harris), discovers Eggs and the Boxtrolls village.  Everything is not what it seemed.

The Boxtrolls challenges our world’s notions of classism, racism, speciesism, and other forms of bigotry. Cheesebridge’s Whitehat and Redhat delegations are examples of classism.  The Boxtrolls are examples of groups subject to racism, homophobia, or other forms of discrimination.

The Boxtrolls, ultimately, is about family.  No matter what that family may look like, it’s the love and cooperation that makes the family a good one.  Whether that family is one’s personal family, or the family of all life on Earth, The Boxtrolls is a great parable about what really matters when it comes to family. Stay for a funny credits scene, and an innovative song called “Some Kids.”

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The Boxtrolls Review By Maureen

★★★½ (out of 4)

There’s nothing plain or ordinary about the cardboard boxes in The Boxtrolls.  The odd-looking creatures who wear boxes for clothes and identity and live under the Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge are strangely charming. These creatures called Boxtrolls emerge only at night to forage for bits and pieces that the people of the city above throw away.  The underground world the Boxtrolls create with their recycled materials is clever and inventive.

However, the humans above see them as people-eating monsters and resort to hiring the nasty, cheese obsessed exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to get rid of them.  Little do the people know that the Boxtrolls have a tender, caring side evidenced by the fact that for the last ten years they’ve been raising a missing human boy, who they named Eggs (Issac Hempstead-Wright) after his box labeled “eggs.”  It’s only when another human child, Winnie (Elle Fanning), daughter of Lord Portly-Rind (Jared Harris) discovers Eggs that the two children can work together to save Eggs and the Boxtrolls.

Laika Entertainment, the studio behind animated gems Coraline and ParaNorman, has done it again with The Boxtrolls.  This is a delightfully dark and charming tale of classism, greed and clever inventiveness.  As always, the stop-motion animation is brilliantly done.  Every little detail counts, especially in a period piece like The Boxtrolls.  The way the odd creatures pop in and out of their boxes works really well.

This isn’t your typical animated fare for young children.  There are no bright primary colours and nobody is conventionally cute.  Yet for older children and adults who enjoy a Dickens-like story and love this animation style, The Boxtrolls is a wonderful treat.  Stay through the end credits for a unique perspective into the world of stop-motion animation.

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The Boxtrolls Review By Tony

★★★★ (out of 4)

The Boxtrolls, the latest feature from stop motion animation house LAIKA (Coraline, ParaNorman) is based on the children’s novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow. Set in the fictional British town of Cheesebridge c.1900 it is a quirky dark tale reminiscent of Roald Dahl full of whimsical steampunk contraptions and exaggerated characters. Under the town, the Boxtrolls, named after the boxes they use like turtle shells, live mainly on a diet of insects among a world of fantastic inventions made from parts stolen in above-ground night raids. Having been snatched as an infant, the ten-year-old boy called Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has been brought up by the Boxtrolls.

The villainous Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) will do anything to join the mayor, Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and his white-hatted council in their cheese-tasting meetings, though his cravings are linked to severe allergic reactions. He whips up fear of the Boxtrolls among the people and promises to exterminate them in exchange for a white hat, aided by his minions (Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan). When the mayor’s feisty daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) runs into Eggs and discovers the Boxtrolls world, she has to both help them fight against Snatcher and turn Eggs into a proper boy.

Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, The Boxtrolls creates a brilliantly handcrafted world of appropriately muted colours (in contrast with the upcoming Book of Life) and wonderful scenes of action and dialogue full of interesting details that will reward repeated viewings. The voice cast is great, particularly Kingsley and the two young leads, as well as Dee Bradley Baker and Steve Blum, who devised the Trolls language. Finally, Dario Marianelli has provided an excellent musical score, including an operatic quartet played on a 78 rpm record with double-talk lyrics listing various Italian cheeses.

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Consensus: Boasting beautifully detailed stop motion animation from the geniuses at Laika, The Boxtrolls is a brilliantly inventive and visually stunning feast for the eyes, matched by an intelligent and heartfelt screenplay. ★★★¾ (out of 4)

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