The Boxtrolls (2014)

Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade
A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children's novel 'Here Be Monsters' by Alan Snow.
While it's far from Laika's best offering, The Boxtrolls is still packed with enough offbeat wit and visual splendor to offer a healthy dose of all-ages entertainment.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 26 Sep 2014 Released:
  • 20 Jan 2015 DVD Release:
  • $49.9M Box office:
  • Irena Brignull (screenplay), Adam Pava (screenplay Writer:
  • Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi Director:
  • http://www.theboxtrolls.com/ Website:

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Trailer:

Dark and visually perfect, with some lighthearted fun. Brilliant.8/10
This mix of stop-motion and CGI brings a fun, charming tale that appeals to all ages.

Set in the town of Cheesebridge (it's motto - a gouda place to live), the 'minion'-like creatures called boxtrolls have for years terrorised the habitants and are hunted by childcatcher-esque exterminator 'Archibald Snatcher', voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley, who has been promised a place in the town council if he's destroys every last one. The story is enjoyable, heartwarming and is really brought alive by the stop motion animation and topped by a plethora of famous British voices.

The themes are a little darker than explored in a lot of younger-aimed films, and there is a sense of adventure and danger that you don't see in the majority of animations. But this doesn't mean that it isn't entertaining. Those who are fond of the Despicable Me's minions, will love the Boxtrolls' actions and personalities, resulting in many lighthearted moments too.

For those that have seen creator Laika's other works - Coraline and Paranorman - you will enjoy this very much. They don't have as much of a fan base as the biggest stop motion Aardman - the visionaries behind Wallace & Gromit, but their quirkier, darker animations can appeal to a larger range of audiences. Here, with their third film, they have made really enjoyable film, entertaining from beginning to end. Be sure to stay at the end for a little credit sting showing how it was made.
More allegorical meaning than you can fit in a box10/10
The film Boxtrolls is so jam packed with themes that cut to the core of our society that you might expect it to be cobbled together, choppy, overreaching, and pretentious. It is, in fact, none of those things.

A thoroughly entertaining, not too cerebral, romp down one box conveyor after another, the film succeeds at wrapping it's central theme of persecution and prejudice in layers of equally significant ideas: group self-identification, class ambition, dalliant obsessions, self-esteem, and self-destructive addiction. It follows a nicely predictable plot arc that will satisfy your children while you ponder whether the plucky heroine's ostensible obsession with the macabre is likely a reflection of a Freudian complex with roots in her father's indifference. The bad guy with his crooked teeth and greazy hair is unmistakably evil. But at the same time the good guys aren't wearing the white hats. In fact, it's comparing and poking fun at both incompetence and maliciousness.

The animation finds it's grounding in a setting that is reminiscent of Corpse Bride. From the industrial green palate of the box trolls to the stiff and starched characterization of the patrician class, the visual design of the film holds together well.

After the film you'll walk out of the theater with lots of things on your mind, but you won't be walking out with a child who was bored to sleep or fits by another didactic feature of animated hogwash. That is an impressive achievement for any film.
Heartfelt Nature9/10
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.
Not cute but clever5/10
There are cute children's films - like "Frozen, the first movie to which I ever took my granddaughter (then just under three) - and then there is the more challenging kind - like "The Boxtrolls" to which I took her nine months later. We haven't read the source material, the novel "Here Be Monsters!" by Alan Snow, but she knows all about trolls from "Frozen" and other stories and these are very cleverly represented through stop- motion capture by the specialist production company Laika. But it's a little bit scary for young ones, so my granddaughter held on to my hand most of the film and sat on my lap for the final third.

For British adults of a certain age, the characters of the town of Cheesebridge look like people from a Gerald Scarfe cartoon and the subterranean habitat of the boxtrolls themselves is like a cross between the worlds of Heath Robinson and Hieronymus Bosch. The voices are very well-done and for me the best of comes from Ben Kingsley as a hard bad guy and Richard Ayoade as a soft bad guy. Stay for the credits when early on there is a little bit of existential angst on display from two of the stop motion characters.
A fun film, Roald Dahl like darkness.8/10
We took our 3 year old son to this film, and was not expecting much entertainment for us adults. However, both my wife and I really enjoyed it and my son has been walking around in a bottomless box with holes cut in it,(for his head and arms),for two days.

It has a lot of charm and a slight edge of darkness. I am surprised that it has received such poor reviews from the critics. I have noticed they tend to rate realistic, depressing films; whereas we like happy escapist fun and this film delivers that.

We are from the UK and the voices are perhaps better known here, which may have contributed, a little, to our perception of this film's charm.