“The Boxtrolls” Review

From the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, comes a new claymation film based off of the Alan Snow book Here Be Monsters. A young boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is raised underground by a group of engineering monsters labeled Boxtrolls while a “Red Hat” named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) attempts to capture them. As the Boxtroll’s numbers dwindle, Eggs is forced to go to the surface and rescue his adopted father.

I love Claymation. Even when the claymation isn’t anything special, there’s a certain charm to it that gets me. The amount of labor that goes into making the characters move and react makes the film feel intimate. Even when the story wasn’t very intriguing, the claymation was mesmerizing – especially during the action sequences. 

The movie follows a watered-down version of the standard Hollywood formula. The story hits all of the standard beats, but the beats seem kind of forced and don’t carry as much weight as they normally should. The result is a strong start that slowly loses its focus and motivation. The clichéd “foreign person adjusting to our everyday life” sequences were also surprisingly weak. The jokes and situational-type humor could be copypasted into any movie with a similar sequence. The whole time it just felt as if the filmmakers were just trying to get through the second act.

Some of the characters in the film are a lot of fun. And some of them are pretty annoying. By far, the most entertaining characters are the antagonists. Ben Kingsley gives a good performance, but the scene-stealers are his side-kicks. Played by Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan, they discuss mortality and the dichotomy of good vs. evil. These characters provide the majority of the film’s self-awareness, which is definitely much-needed. Elle Fanning plays Winnie, easily the most annoying character in the film. I get that the point of the character is that she’s supposed to be somewhat abrasive, but the humor didn’t really work. Every time she was on screen, I was wishing that she wasn’t. While The Boxtrolls had some interesting physical movement, I couldn’t help but think that they were just Despicable Me rip-offs.

The Boxtrolls is a lot of fun if you’re 7 years old. It’s entertaining if you’re older as well, but it’s nothing too special. It’s still significantly better than a majority of other animated kids movies, but it’s still not quite a universal experience for both kids and adults. There’s just not enough subtlety to everything. I still enjoyed myself quite a bit though, even if a large portion of why was because of the animation style. 6/10.

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