HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Boxtrolls 3D
HTS Overall Score:89
I remember watching the trailer for “The Boxtrolls” and being delighted that the old Claymation style of animation (even though it’s really not ACTUAL Claymation, but rather digitally created) hasn’t gone the way of the buffalo and that Universal studios keeps greenlighting these flicks. “Paranorman” was decent fun, and “Coraline” was a stunner, but “The Boxtrolls” had a decidedly much more kiddy feel to it vs. the other two mentioned. After watching I have to say that I really enjoyed this one almost as much as I did “Coraline”, even though it is drastically less dark and macabre than that one. “The Boxtrolls” is surprisingly cute and refreshing with just a hint of darkness and plenty of tongue in cheek humor about villains vs. heroes, and even a few potshots at the movie itself.
Underneath the city of Cheesebridge lives a group of little trolls who live in boxes, dubbed (ironically enough), Boxtrolls. This tale is about a young boy who was taken 10 years ago to live amongst the Boxtrolls underneath the city. The uptight city folk are terrified of the boxtrolls, convinced that they eat young children and are basically the boogeyman and Dracula all rolled into one. One Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) is your mustache twirling villain of the series, a sleazy man who wants nothing more than to be given a “white hat” by the aristocracy of the city (basically becoming one of the elite) and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Striking a goal with Lord Portly Rind (Jared Harris), he is promised a white hat if he can wipe out the entire Boxtroll population. Try her certainly does, tracking down the boxtrolls one by one as they come out at night to pillage and steal from the trash.
Little does the town know that the boxtrolls are actually a kind and innocent race of beings, who just like to collect nick knacks and build with them in their lair. The only one who actually knows their secret is the young boy, Eggs (Isaac Wright), the young boy that actually lives with them. Seeing his friends taken one by one, and their numbers dwindling, Eggs must go back to the surface and team up with Lord Portly Rind’s daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning) to try and change the mind of her father. When that doesn’t work, Eggs has to wage a rescue attempt in order to free his friends from the clutches of the dastardly Mr. Snatcher and his gang of goons (voiced by Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan and Richard Ayoade).
I was gleefully giggling throughout the entire movie as “The Boxtrolls” turned out to be one of the better animated films that Universal has put out in a long time. It carries some of the same tones as “Coraline” and “Paranorman”, but softens them and creates a very unique texture here. The movie has tons of tongue in cheek humor, aimed directly at the movie itself. Playing off of the dichotomy of hero and perceived hero, villain and perceived villain, it dances around the subject and winks very obviously at the viewer while comparing Archibald Snatcher and the Boxtrolls. Snatcher is obviously a villain to the audience, but not exactly to the overly snobby elite with their head stuck in the clouds tasting fancy cheese. We all know the outcome of the film, but the little winks at nods at how many times we perceive things differently than they really are, and the attention we pay to things that are really ludicrous in nature while real evil goes on under our very noses is delightfully true (and sometimes a bit sobering. The humor is mostly childlike, but there are a few mild crudities that are aimed at adults (and actually rather witty I might add, instead of being juvenile). There is just the lightest touch of darkness, as there is intimations of death and destruction, but it’s never up to the creepy factor that “Coraline” or “The Nightmare Before Christmas” achieved. Instead it keeps it at a very mild PG level.
Made for both children and adults, “The Boxtrolls” manages to bring family entertainment back to the good old days of Claymation animation and witty humor that will appeal to people of all ages. I had a blast watching the movie and loved the originality of the movie. I didn’t realize before watching, but “The Boxtrolls” is actually based on a book by Alan Snow titles “Here be Monsters!”, and it really makes me want to check out the book just to see how faithful the adaptation is. Even if they pull a Roald Dahl on us, I have to say that the end result on film is quite a lot of fun and a worthy addition to any animated fans collection.
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37041[/img]Universal does good work with their day and date titles and “The Boxtrolls” digitaly animated version of Claymation looks fantastic on Blu-ray disc (both 3D and 2D presentations). The image is razor sharp, as every line is cleanly animated and devoid of any technical limitations or flaws. The color palette leans towards a pastel tone, but that is broken up by some very rich primary colors sprinkled in among the lighter tones as a beautiful contrast. If you look there is a few teensy tiny instances of noise, but otherwise the image is crystal clear and filled with stunning detail. The Claymation style animation isn’t as intricate as some others I have seen, but the lines that are drawn are perfect as can be. Black levels are spot on perfect and show every bit of detail that the animators intended, from the deep shadowy cavern under the city to the night streets of Cheesebridge itself.
“The Boxtrolls” 3D presentation is quite excellent, as you would expect from an animated film. The picture shows an incredible amount of depth and pop, without a lot of gimmicky pop outs and “at the screen moments”. Instead the film focuses on creating a heavily layered world, which it does quite nicely, with tons of depth and dimensionality to the image. The image does look a tad darker than the 2D presentation, but that’s usually par for the course with 3D films due to the effects of the glasses, and I also noticed very little, if any, ghosting in the image. Top notch for sure.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37049[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track fares just about as well as the video does, with an excellent representation of the theatrical experience. The film is teeming with life, showing off all 6 channels with equal aplomb. The dialogue is locked up front, but carries some nice panning effects along the front three speakers, especially during the underground sequences as you heave Eggs voice echo off the walls and shift directions at times. The more active moments features some great use of the surround channels as Snatcher and crew battle it out over the boxtrolls fate and during the end battle sequence as well. While there is a lot of dialogue to keep the mains busy, the musical score that dances throughout the movie lights up those back channels when the action is died down and keeps them piping hot for you. LFE is present and is tight and punch when called upon. The walls vibrated a nice bit when Snatcher fires up his infernal machine for the first time and each billow from the fiery gut rumbled in my chest. Excellent from beginning to end.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37057[/img]• Digital Reality
• Dare to Be Square: Behind the Scenes of "The Boxtrolls"
• 5 Featurettes that Take You Inside the magical World of "The Boxtrolls"
• Feature Commentary with Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
• Preliminary Animatic Sequences
“The Boxtrolls” is a refreshing animated film that colors itself rather unique in regards to modern animated films. It keeps itself childlike without becoming childish, and it keeps enough adult humor in there without becoming too crude and vulgar. The use of old fashioned Claymation blended with modern CGI gives it a beautifully retro, yet modern look that should please fans to no end. The tech specs on this disc are just about flawless, and the inclusion of ACTUAL extras on the disc makes it a no brainer in my opinion. Definitely watch it.
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan
Directed by: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable
Written by: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 97 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th 2015
Buy The Boxtrolls 3D combo Pack On Blu-ray At Amazon
Buy The Boxtrolls 2D Combo Pack On Blu-ray At Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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