“The Boxtrolls” is a recent stop motion film created by the makers of “Coraline” and “Paranorman.” The film follows the story of a group of “boxtrolls” who roam Cheesebridge’s streets at night, much to the dissatisfaction of those who live there. Cowering in their homes at night out of fear, the townspeople have much hatred for the little underground dwelling creatures, especially after they kidnap a baby one night. The film focuses heavily on breaking free of stereotypes and seeing things in a slightly different light, which is a good message, if only done in a more appealing way plot-wise.
Isaac Hempstead Wright voices Eggs, the boy who was kidnapped by Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) and Shoe (voiced by Steve Blum), two boxtrolls who act as both parent and sibling respectively to him throughout the ten years he lives with them. When Eggs (as a toddler) gets snatched, Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) vows to capture and destroy every boxtroll alive in order to be allowed membership into an elite group of high society cheese lovers, led by Cheesebridge’s mayor, Lord Portley –Rind (voiced by Jared Harris). When the mayor’s daughter Winnie (voiced by Elle Fanning) realizes Eggs is a boy and not at all a boxtroll, that’s when the story takes a turn and we finally see members of the two differing species working together.
The overall plot in “The Boxtrolls” has its flaws, as the intentions of Archibald Snatcher seem to lack a payoff. With a clear antagonist, a film needs to give that character a strong desire to achieve something grand. What Snatcher wanted, however, wasn’t worth the work he was putting into getting it. This diminished the plot to a display of pointless psychoticism on the antagonist’s part. Perhaps Snatcher’s depiction wasn’t presented properly, but he seemed a weak villain, even if for a family-friendly film.
Another loss for a highly potential film was the depiction of the boxtrolls themselves. There were plenty of opportunities to create some major personality in them, but they seemed to disappear onto the backburner in lieu of a more human-driven plot. In following Winnie and Eggs’ ventures in trying to save the rest of the boxtrolls, a lot of the character that could have been was lost to the stories of these two kids. Aside from the personality, something else that was missed out on was the humor. There was a lot of opportunity to add something memorable and amusing, but sadly, none of those moments came to exist. Instead, there were far too many cheesy puns.
Overall, “The Boxtrolls” was cute, but lacked a lot of the much needed personality. With so much opportunity to incorporate that into the film, it was a shame that it was lost. Visually, it was great, as the amount of work that goes into creating a film of this magnitude is astounding and should not be overlooked. And the message was a great one, and one whose symbolism was perhaps the best hidden gem of the film. It was depicted in both a literal and figurative way, urging others to think outside the box. Sadly, however, it perhaps would have been best to remain inside the box, as the overall plot of the film was a rather cheesy and unfortunate display of nonsense.
Final grade? C-