Good day to you ladies and gents, with the summer film season well and truly over I haven't really had any reason to go back to the cinema, until last weekend when I watched The Boxtrolls. Now this is one of the few animated films I've been really excited to see because I love Laika as an animation studio and with their great work on Coraline and Paranorman, this was a must-see film. So how does this film fare? Well, read on and find out!
The story for the film can be described as the following:
"The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collecting trolls called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher and Eggs has to save his family from Snatcher."
The story for this film was pretty good, it offered a familiar tale while still being fun and interesting. I liked Egg's origin story and how it tied into the villain's story too, and seeing the way everything unfolded was quite bizarre but also fun and unexpected. Now if I were to compare it to Laika's previous projects, I would say that this film is better than Paranorman due to its story and character's being much stronger, but I still don't believe that Coraline can be touched when it comes to story and characters. That film was special, creepy and full of all sorts of scary stuff you just don't see in a children's animated film. In the end it comes down to the source material and this film's material is good, but just not that strong to be innovative or too different from what we've seen before.
As for the cast they're all wonderful offering great performances in unexpected ways.
Isaac Hempstead-Wright does well as Eggs, he's a boy who has been raised by the Boxtrolls and it is the only life knows, but once things start to go wrong for his friends and he has to step up and become a hero he definitely grows as a character and becomes a likeable protagonist. The guy is strange, funny and has a good heart and Hempstead-Wright brings a great deal of passion and flair to his role. Someone who might have outdone him is Elle Fanning, who is great as Winnie Portley-Rind. This girl is good-natured, if somewhat spoilt, rude and headstrong, she is very curious and finds herself in trouble because of it, but after she connects with Eggs they bond and then become intertwined in this mission to save his friends and Fanning does a such a good job, her delivery of some her lines is nothing short of funny and delightful. Ben Kingsley is completely unrecognizable as Archibald Snatcher, Kingsley does an absolutely stellar job as the main nemesis of this film being quite humourous, mean and at times very disturbing too. The great thing about this performance is that it is so charismatic and larger than life, but you just wouldn't expect it from someone like Ben Kingsley, it was such a massive surprise when I saw his name in the credits, just goes to show you how versatile he is.
And then there's Snatcher's henchman played wonderfully by Nick Frost as Mr. Trout, Richard Ayoade as Mr. Pickles and Tracy Morgan as Mr. Gristle. Mr. Trout and Pickles were my favourites, they are both very funny and strange henchmen who follow Snatcher, but question his actions and sometimes discuss matters of moral code from time to time and it makes for some great moments in the film, Richard Ayoade's voice is just amazing while Nick Frost is awesome as a character who clearly has the most sense out of the lot of them. And lastly Tracy Morgan is the last person I would have guessed as Mr. Pickles however, after I thought about it, it started to make sense. This character seems like a brain-dead idiot, but he is definitely gunning and dangerous, he's just prone to delivering pain and is single-minded about many things.
Jared Harris is awesome as Lord Portley-Rind, this character is an upper-classmen, enjoys the finer things in life (especially his obsession with cheese) and has no time for his daughter. I love Harris in this role, I recognized his voice in an instant and after seeing him in Fringe and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows it is impossible to not notice him in anything even if it is just identified by voice alone. Toni Collette is fine as Lady Portley-Rind, Winnie's mother and the appearance of Simon Pegg as Herbert Trubshaw was totally unexpected, but very much welcomed as his character is totally jokes. And lastly Dee Bradley Baker (Fish, Wheels and Bucket) and Steve Blum (Shoe and Sparky) were awesome, especially Steve Blum who is one of my favourite voice actors.
When it comes to the presentation it is clearly the strongest element of the film both on the visual and audio front. Laika as an animation studio have always been incredible when it comes to crafting impressive-looking visuals and have gone from strength to strength when it comes to shows how much further they can push stop-motion and I feel like they've done it again. All of the animation is incredibly smooth, the art design is very nice and the cinematography is so much more dynamic than before with fancier lighting, more camera angles and really impressive tracking shots too. The soundtrack by Dario Marianelli was nice as well offering some great pieces of music to suit the different tones throughout the film.
In conclusion The Boxtrolls is a very good animated film, which is full of fun and is a very good-looking film which shows that stop-motion is a form of animation that can still be impressive in this world of CGI animated films. Is it the best animated film this year? No. However, that shouldn't stop you checking this film out, it has plenty of laughs, a great cast of characters and story that is simple, strange, but also very effective.
So what did you think of The Boxtrolls? Have you seen it or are you gonna watch it? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to comment below and I'll see ya on the next review yo! :D