release date: 26 September 2014 (Canada)
run time: 96 mins
considered: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
starring: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Nika Futterman, Pat Fraley, Fred Tatasciore, Max Mitchell, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Maurice LaMarche, James Urbaniak
movie summary: When night hits the beautiful town of Cheesebridge, creatures pour out of the sewers and gutters looking for items to salvage in the trash. These creatures are called box trolls because they all wear and hide in boxes. These boxes have symbols or words on them which are how these creatures get their names. One stormy night a boxtroll named Fish rescues a baby that is thrown from an open window. Over the next few days Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) has put out a bulletin that states everyone is to avoid all boxtrolls since these hideous creatures have stolen a baby. Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) offers to capture all the boxtrolls and find the baby. In exchange for his work, Snatcher will be rewarded with the prestigious white hat that he has always dreamed of.
Snatcher employs a group of misfits to help him search the streets every night for the missing baby and to round-up all the boxtrolls they can find. Fish along with his troll friends Wheels, Bucket, Shoe, Sparky, Oil Can, Knickers, Fragile, Sweets, Clocks, and Specs collect valuable items in the trash and then return to the baby boy who now wears an “Eggs” box. Eggs has grown attached to Fish thanks to Fish’s ability to create musical instruments and find records to play. The boxtrolls do everything they can to provide Eggs with the best items to enable him to create things with while he grows up and explores his imagination.
The years pass by and Eggs has turned into a young boy. The boxtrolls have let their guard down a little bit and some of them begin to get captured by Archibald Snatcher. Eggs wants to try to help his friends so heads out above ground for the first time during the day when he bumps into Lord Portley-Rind’s daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning). She can’t believe she doesn’t recognize the young boy who wears a box. When he disappears into the sewers she figures out he is the missing baby. Eggs discovers that Snatcher has captured all the boxtrolls and is using their skills to build a secret machine that no one knows about it. Archibald Snatcher has a red hat and can only dream of what it would be like to have a white hat. He’s willing to do almost anything to move up the social ladder even if he has to steal one.
Eggs releases the evil Snatchers’ plans and seeks Winnie’s help to get her dad to look into what he has discovered. Winnie refuses to help because she believes boxtrolls will eat her. When everyone meets for the first time, Eggs calms Winnie and the remaining boxtrolls down to remind them they have to work together to save Fish and the gang. Winnie tries her best to convince her father to listen to her but he is so preoccupied with adult political things he just brushes her off. Upset with the lack of attention she gets from her father, Winnie will trick Snatcher into letting his guard down which will allow Eggs to sneak in and free all the boxtrolls who are now without their boxes. Together Eggs, Winnie, and the boxtrolls must get down to the town hall to stop Archibald Snatcher and his machine that he has now unleashed on the town.
my thoughts: This is toughest part of writing a movie review for a movie that the majority of people will love. I am not a fan of the The Boxtrolls and here’s a few reasons why. First, despite its original and creative characters the story is nothing we haven’t seen before in a kids/animated movie. It’s the classic misunderstood trolls who come to the rescue of the people who misunderstand them as they fight off an evil bad guy who wants to control everything. There are good parts of the story, like Eggs growing up and thinking he’s a boxtroll, but his story is really pushed aside by evil and greedy Archibald Snatcher and his quest for power. Eggs is the main character in the movie but even his charm and humour is overshadowed by Snatcher’s ability to manipulate and convince people he is doing his job for the better of the town when he only cares about himself. It was really hard to sit there and enjoy the beautiful animation when the story gets dragged down by the bad guy.
Ben Kingsley is more famous for playing bad guys than good guys in films, so it was only fitting for him to be the voice of the bad guy. Isaac Hempstead Wright and Elle Fanning voice the hero characters of the movie who take us on a ride to a predictable happy ending. The writer’s efforts are wasted by type casting all the characters and winning an ending that you could see coming from the moment you sat down. One of the other parts that was frustrating was how unimportant the kids were to adults back then. Winnie tries all movie long to get her dad’s attention but because she doesn’t have a white hat and isn’t a big wig, she never gets her dad’s ear. You know this has effected the way she’s grown up because she is a feisty little girl who is over dramatic and demanding. She wasn’t a likeable character like Eggs is both in and out of his box. He is a shy kid who thinks he’s a boxtroll only to be heartbroken to learn he is not. Thanks to all his adopted fathers, Eggs grows up to be a strong-willed kid who understands the sacrifices the trolls have made for him over the years and must go extremes to protect them like they did for him.
The best part of this movie is the animation. There are many stories online right now about how long it took the artists and directors to piece together every character to form a movie. To watch all their hard work unfold on the big screen is simply magical despite it’s rather lack luster storyline.
my final thoughts: Besides the great action sequences, amazing animation, and some light humour, there is nothing special about Box Trolls that makes it stand out above and beyond any other animated movies. The kids will be entertained while adults may groan at another predictable plot meant to please a certain age group.
my star rating: 5 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 73% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3.5 out 4