From Portland, OR stop-motion animation studio Laika comes the latest visual marvel of a film, The Boxtrolls. Adapted from the English novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow, it’s a fantasy town called Cheesebridge, where cheese and social status are both highly prized and inherently linked. And where a misunderstood gang of night-time dumpster-diver trolls also lurk and live.
You cannot fault the craft and beauty of the character designs, set designs, or the animation itself. As time-intensive as the work is, Laika is at the top of their game with their amazingly rendered characters and animation. Really, you can’t give them enough credit for that.
Well, it turns out that The Boxtrolls is closer to Coraline than ParaNorman. I don’t know if it’s because the two former works are adapted from strong written stories and the latter was created uniquely by the studio. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the The Boxtrolls is easily one of the best new films I’ve seen this year and a really wonderful, fine animated feature. We’d actually been looking forward to it from the trailers for almost a year.
The world of the Boxtrolls is so wonderfully conceived, from their limited language, their appreciation for things that others discard, their names based on the images of their boxes, the way they express happiness by patting their chests. A kidnapped child, named “Eggs” by the trolls is the turning point of the story. The villainous Archibald Snatcher (voiced with perfect menace by Ben Kingsley) has created fear in the community to employ him and his henchmen to round up all Boxtrolls to keep the community safe. And his motivation is to join the uppercrust of society, represented by white hats and fancy cheese.
It’s beautifully done. Fun. Funny. Excellent.
Felix noted that “It wasn’t as good as Coraline.” And sure, that is true, but Coraline, I think, is a masterpiece. Not much measures up against it. But I would say that The Boxtrolls comes in at a very noble second to it. Definitely adds to my belief in and excitement about any new projects that Laika embarks upon.
Definitely going to make my “Best of” list for this year.