After the groundbreaking work that LAIKA did with their first feature Coraline and then breaking down more doors with their second, the perfect ParaNorman, expectations are quite high for their third film -- The Boxtrolls.
There are several things that LAIKA got beyond right at the outset with this tale. As The Boxtrolls trailer illustrates, they centered it in a Dickensian/Victorian-type English setting and then they named the town Cheesebridge where it seems that the dairy product is code and currency.
They then made this a simultaneous Shakespearean fable about the quest for power and how it will eventually destroy you and also a story of how family is just a word and its meaning could be derived from anything that provides love, support and a feeling of unquestionable safety.
Isaac Hempstead Wright (Game of Thrones) voices Eggs and he becomes Eggs when he’s orphaned as a baby. The trolls who live under the Cheesebridge city streets take him in and raise him. They’re called Boxtrolls because they don boxes when they emerge late at night on the streets to take home the things that the citizens of this village toss away.
They are a happy, passive group that embodies the word community on so many levels.
A man named Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) desires to be among Cheesebridge's elite and concocts a plan to put the fear of God into the townsfolk about the evil trolls that live beneath the city. One of the city’s leaders agrees to give him a seat at the “cheese” table if he can annihilate every last troll.
Before long and with many trolls disappearing, Eggs emerges with the hopes of convincing the town of what the trolls really are -- and in the process, he meets an unlikely ally in the daughter of one of the city’s leaders, Winnie (Elle Fanning).
Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi have painstakingly created a world that feels like a Tale of Two Cities -- above and below Cheesebridge. The LAIKA team has truly outdone themselves with the texture, color, lighting and artistry that encompass every frame of The Boxtrolls.
The film is based on the book Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, but it exists in that universe in framework only.
Screenwriters Irena Brignull and Adam Pava present a story that works largely when they are directly inspired by Snow’s book. There's an element of Snatcher’s story that doesn’t work for us that could have easily been worked through in another manner. Yet, The Boxtrolls is a family movie that works for every member of the clan, from five to ninety-five.
The Boxtrolls’ cast is beyond exceptional. Kingsley gives a performance that you will swear is not him. How he found the voice of Snatcher is beyond us, but we are quite thankful he did! Hempstead Wright captures the innocent child meets driven advocate for equality for all arc of his character with pure aplomb. And where to start with Fanning? My goodness, does she nail the Victorian accent while being as feisty as a firecracker.
Our The Boxtrolls review promises an utterly delightful time at the cinemas for anyone who takes in the latest world from LAIKA.
There are messages to treasure, and they’re all delivered without a mallet to the head as other family movies can do. And that is just one of the things that has LAIKA emerging as one of the animation houses that when we see their name, we will be front and center every time they produce something new.
They are just operating at a higher level of awesomeness than most. We cannot wait to see where they go next.
See how it all began and watch Coraline online.