The "animation" genre now has a common trait: it is known for broader gags, bullet speed pacing, and eye candy visuals, but out of many animation studios out there, Laika Entertainment could be the only one that stays loyal to their own direction. Aside of the stop- motion animation and love to the horror movie camp, their storytelling and themes are equally unconventional, though charmingly daring at best. The Boxtrolls is no different from their last two movies, except this one might be gentler, but the strangeness is still there intact. And by those merit, the experience becomes special.
It might get immediately be assumed that the film has the same moral of 2012's ParaNorman. It does have that feeling: strange people being treated as outcasts by everybody and describes their fear to them out of caricatures. But the film tends to explore more messages beneath besides of that, if you can get behind with the whole rescue plan stuff, you may also get to notice that it's really about separating people's common views and expectations from the reality; like the Boxtrolls they're against with aren't actually bad creatures, or some fathers turn out to be not as supportive as they're supposed to be, or even the difference between being good and bad. The sentiment may sound a little familiar, but the delivery here is often steady and bitter to acknowledge its sincerity, and it indeed makes it remarkable.
As for the animation, there's no hiding for the love of the horror movie aesthetics. The world already looks magnificently whimsical as the filmmakers transcend their stop-motion animating abilities by making grander and crazier set pieces and physical comedy, but when it comes to featuring its creature and character designs, the camp just brings lots of it to life, some parent might find it a little creepy for smaller children, but if they don't even bother then there is no denying how beautiful they're designed anyway. In another angle, it offers a larger extent of warmth compared to many family movies today. The nearly wordless montage of the Boxtroll Fish raising young Eggs is one of the sweetest things you would see in recent memory, while the sadder montage at the middle act could surprisingly be affecting. These storytellers just know how to drive emotions. Among the voice actors, Ben Kingsley predictably becomes the best. He brings the main pizazz as both the villain and his hilarious drag disguise. Isaac Hempstead Wright and Elle Fanning are great as well, giving their characters the personalities they need. There are more big names (mentioning the favorites like Simon Pegg and Richard Ayoade) that bring the extra fun of the film.
The Boxtrolls is probably going to be the least attraction for the animation genre this year, mostly because it's nearly apart from the comfort zone of today's entertainment. If you don't care about trends, then this movie is a treat, and as usual from its studio, the overall film is dark, campy, but visually stunning and eventually endearing. They still haven't changed and I hope it always stays that way, especially the monster movie tribute and strong heart and perspective towards things. The Boxtrolls proves that these types of animated films shouldn't be antique yet, there is a huge value to its quality and moviegoers should once again encounter it.