“Who are you, boy?” asks Winnie (voiced by Elle Fanning). “I’m a Boxtroll,” replies Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), a young boy who believes he’s a Boxtroll because he’s grown up with them down in their lair. Eggs might just make the difference between whether the Boxtrolls survive or die off in the stop-motion animated film The Boxtrolls.
The Boxtrolls are strange, mischievous and creative creatures who live down beneath the streets of Cheesebridge, a city in which all of its citizens – especially the upper class ones – are obsessed with cheese. The Boxtrolls come out at night, going through the townspeople’s garbage and collecting anything mechanical they can use to build and create things. They’re not monsters at all, but instead are inventors.
One night an orphaned baby is saved by one of the Boxtrolls named Fish (they all go by the title or name on their boxes) and is taken to live with them down in their huge cave. This leads to a terrifying legend created by the town’s exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) that the Boxtrolls eat young children. Determined to get rid of every Boxtroll in order to work his way up the social ladder, Snatcher and his henchmen hunt them at night when they’re out collecting things.
Snatcher abducts Fish one night and Eggs is determined to save the him. Eggs ventures out into the human world during the day where he meets and teams up with a spunky young girl named Winnie. Together the two young kids set out to save Fish and the rest of the Boxtrolls from certain doom.
Quirky and visually impressive, The Boxtrolls is an offbeat and oftentimes silly animated comedy/adventure that’s sure to entertain children ages 6-13 but has little to offer older teens and adults. The voice cast is first rate and almost unrecognizable, led by Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of the evil exterminator and Elle Fanning as the at times annoying but ultimately caring young girl, Winnie.
The film looks fantastic with its lavish colors and crisp animated style. 79 sets were constructed sets and almost 200 puppets were used to make The Boxtrolls come alive on the screen, and the combination of old style stop-motion animation with 3-D cinematography works well in this case. The wonderful use of shadows and barely lit streets in the beginning of the film give an eerie and foreboding feeling which quickly disappears the minute the odd but funny (and sometimes even cute) Boxtrolls appear.
The Boxtrolls always hide in the boxes they wear when danger is near making it very easy for Snatcher to collect them, and the movie includes good lessons for kids about being yourself and not hiding from trouble or bullies but instead standing up to them. The action is fast and slapstick, but at times becomes too chaotic for the audience to follow. The humor and sight gags are aimed at younger children so it’s mostly juvenile and witless, not leaving much to entertain the adults in the audience.
Colorful, visually striking, and weird, The Boxtrolls is an animated film that’s sure to entertain younger movie fans in the crowd while leaving the adults who accompanied them to the theater looking forward to the end credits.
The Boxtrolls is rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor.
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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