I was so excited, almost like a child before Christmas. I absolutely love stop-motion animation. It is wonderful, there is so much love put into these films. The moment I saw the trailer for The Boxtrolls, I was absolutely charmed. Animation style is similar to Corpse Bride, Coraline and Paranorman. If you liked any of those, you will like this one too.
I did not go to see it 3D but, nevertheless, it looked spectacular. Every single detail is actually made to scale, it takes several hours to film just a tiny movement, and all dolls have character of their own. I love the tiny world of cheese-eating people and ingenious boxtrolls. They all have special features like crooked teeth, different body shapes or peculiar clothes (or boxes, for that matter). The storyline has a classic curve – funny and bright introduction, things get darker and more intense toward the middle, climax with a splash of madness, and a happy ending. The characters develop over time and learn some truths about the world and themselves. A very good animation for both kids and adults. It is witty, funny and has good life lessons.
The story is quite simple – as a baby Eggs gets adopted by the boxtrolls. They are not mean at all, they like to invent things and they don’t eat babies. Actually boxtrolls have a small city under the ground, where they work on weird inventions, have fun and even have their own garden. Boxes work as their disguise for the human world. They are friendly but very shy. In the darkness of the night, they climb to the human world and rummage in the garbage for spare parts, which they could use for their inventions. Something strange starts to happen – someone tries to catch all boxtrolls and exterminate them like vermin. It is the greedy Archibald Snatcher, who hopes to gain power by doing so. As almost all boxtrolls get caught, Eggs decides to do something about it and rescue Fish, who raised him like a father. He meets a girl named Winnie and she tries to help him to persuade her father, who is a very important man in the city council, that Snatcher is telling lies about boxtrolls, who are not vicious at all and should not be harmed.
I love the characters. The boxtrolls are lovely creatures – a bit ugly but not disgusting. They have their own language (amazing collaboration between Dee Bradley Baker and Steve Blum) which mostly resembles throat sounds but has some English in it. They each have something special about them and their names come from the boxes they are wearing. Yes, these trolls are intelligent and can read. People, on the other hand, are way different. Some are quite handsome, some are grotesque. I like the main characters because they have some humanly flaws and imperfections – Eggs has crooked teeth and is twitchy in his behaviour (like a boxtroll) and Winnie is a bit chubby but it makes her even more charming. My personal favourite character is Mr. Trout. Despite his big size he has a gentle soul of a philosopher. It’s not really his fault that he becomes a minion but he does question the orders as he wants to be one of the good guys. If you have time to sit a bit longer, there is a mini-episode with Mr. Trout talking to Mr. Pickles about how weird it would be, if they lived in a world, where they are not making the movements themselves but someone else does it for them. A the moment you can start seeing the animators and how they actually move the dolls. Brilliant! A lot of facial expressions and small features of each character, every detail is thought through. I liked the voice cast and the voices fit the characters very well, even though the actors might not look like the characters at all. I watched the behind the scenes videos and they have put a lot of work and imagination into this tedious process. The result is truly great. I can’t even remember any particular bloopers, at least I didn’t notice any, except maybe the perplexing question – how did Eggs learn to speak English so well (even though he said that he has a language impairment). The humour is brilliant; really made me laugh out loud. I can’t say anything bad about this animation and so I put 9 out of 10. Lovely entertainment for the whole family. I might even be tempted to find the book (‘Here Be Monsters’ by Alan Snow).