The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable,
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost
97 mins; Class U;
KRS Releasing Ltd

From Laika, the makers of Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) comes The Boxtrolls, a combination of stop-motion, hand-drawn and CG animation based on Alan Snow’s best-selling fantasy adventure book Here Be Monsters.

The Boxtrolls are a community of quirky creatures that live beneath the streets of Cheesebridge, a Victorian town populated by a very posh, cheese-obsessed society, under the mayorship of Lord Portly-Rind and his White Hats.

The villainous Archibald Snatcher, leader of the Red Hats, is determined to become part of the White Hats and spreads stories around the town that the Boxtrolls are dangerous.

He demands his White Hat in exchange for ridding the town of the Boxtrolls. But the creatures fight back, led by the human boy Eggs whom they have raised since infancy and Winnie, Portly-Rind’s rebellious daughter.

It is an oddball story at heart, a coming-of-age story, allowing Eggs to discover who he truly is, and Winnie to finally earn her father’s love and respect.

The film will appeal to anyone who likes stories that are a little out of the box. Moreover, the script by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava goes to some dark places and proffers some pretty grim and grotesque moments, which the younger set may find a little too scary for their liking.

There is much to be delighted by

However, overall the narrative lacks the tightness and the characters the depth and eccentric charm that stood out in both Coraline and ParaNorman.

The story itself is a little obvious and the characters, despite indubitably strong performances by the voice cast led by Ben Kingsley, are a tad simplistic and fall too easily into the ‘goodie v baddie’ factions and it is initially hard to warm to them.

That said, there is still much to be delighted by in The Boxtrolls: from the way they wear their boxes, sticking their heads and limbs in and out, a little like turtles.

Or even in the way they fold themselves into neat little stacks to sleep (or hide) and their oddball way of speaking.

They are marvellous little critters, scavenging the humans’ rubbish for bits and bobs which they use to create marvellous gadgets.

It all looks lovely too. The film boasting a unique palette, sepia in tone, but with bright costumes illustrating the characters further.

The animators have come up with some weird and wonderful gizmos to create their underground world.

The film boasts solid work from the voice cast including Ben Kingsley letting rip as the villainous Snatcher, Jared Harris as the rather snooty Lord Portly-Rind, Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs and Elle Fanning as Winnie. The supporting cast includes Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Toni Collette.

Despite its shortcomings, The Boxtrolls boasts enough to add up to an eccentric and overall rather entertaining entry in the animation canon.

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