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article imageReview: ‘The Boxtrolls’ is a treasure-trove of uniqueness Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 25, 2014 in Entertainment
In the stunning stop-motion animation ‘The Boxtrolls,’ the title characters may look evil, but the real monsters are revealed to be the ambitious and greedy townspeople.
Though it's no longer a popular form of storytelling, stop-motion animation remains one of the most attractive methods. Advancements in technology make the process appear more seamless, but the skill, attention to detail and commitment are still incredibly impressive. From the same studio that produced Coraline and ParaNorman comes the equally striking and compelling The Boxtrolls.
Boxtrolls live beneath the city, emerging at night to riffle through people's trash for small, discarded treasures. One fateful night they return with Eggs, a human baby boy. Unfortunately Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), an opportunistic exterminator, uses the missing child to make a deal with the town's leader: he'll rid the town of "baby-eating Boxtrolls" in exchange for a seat at the elite's table. Meanwhile, the Boxtrolls raise Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) to be one of them. He's completely unaware that he should be living with those above ground until one fateful venture introduces him to Winnie (Elle Fanning). With her help, Eggs hopes to save his friends and rewrite history.
Similar to Laika's previous outings, this picture is darker than the average children's movie. The Boxtrolls don't meet the traditional definition of cute, though they do prove incredibly sweet and likeable. They are fun-loving creatures that travel by vacuum and slide, but choose to hide in their boxes rather than engage an enemy. Snatcher is an intimidating individual, both because of his unpleasant demeanor and that he looms over most of the other characters. His henchmen are also less humorous than the usual bunglers. Two of them consistently contemplate the ethics of their actions and the third is a cruel little man who takes pleasure in the Boxtrolls' misfortune.
The story world is intricately designed. The underground domain of the Boxtrolls is spectacular. It's uniquely decorated with an array of scraps and cluttered with various inventions they've made with their findings. Eggs and his father figure, Fish (as per the image on his box), collect items that produce music, which they play for the others. Growing up on the periphery gives Eggs a very different appreciation for the surface people's refuse.
In spite of the morbid nature of the narrative, it's still incredibly entertaining. The correlation between power and cheese is quite amusing, particularly in light of its effects on Snatcher. Shoe, another Boxtroll, is temperamental and a consistent source of humor. Eggs is a young but brave and competent hero, while Winnie is equal parts courage and obstinance.
The perfect combination of a smart script and captivating imagery makes this a must-see movie for all ages.
Directors: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris and Nick Frost
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