Friday, September 26, 2014

The Boxtrolls Review

I'm just going to come right out and say that I have a ton of respect for stop-motion animation. It takes so much time and effort to even make one scene, let alone a whole movie. I'm no filmmaker, but I'd be willing to bet that it takes more time to make a stop-motion movie than any other genre of movie. And if I'm wrong, I'm sure it's at least up there towards the top. And if you don't believe me, just stay for the end credits of this movie. I don't feel bad talking about the scene because it really doesn't have anything to do with the actual story, but it shows how much time and effort is put into making this in a break-the-fourth-wall type of way and it's mind-blowing. So with that in mind, before one of these movies even comes out, you know that I am going to praise it. Even in scenarios where I'm not a huge fan of the story that's being told, I'm going to at least have a ton of respect for the movie because of the animation. So yeah, The Boxtrolls has been advertised for about year now and I've been excited for it ever since I saw the first trailer. Turns out it lived up to the hype. Not only is the animation top-notch, but I was actually really invested in the story. So it's an all around win.

The Boxtrolls comes to us via Laika studios, who were responsible for bringing us fellow stop-motion movies Coraline and ParaNorman. Don't tell anyone, but I actually haven't seen Coraline yet -- I have good reasons and I do plan on fixing that soon -- but I really liked ParaNorman. I'd consider it a classic Halloween movie that should be watched annually in the month of October. And while The Boxtrolls isn't really a Halloween movie and thus doesn't have that advantage, I actually found myself liking The Boxtrolls more. The movie is about this kid who was raised by boxtrolls. In the city this takes place, boxtrolls are seen as vicious monsters, but in fact they aren't. They are just adorable little underground creatures that come out at night to steal trash in order to build their inventions. The conflict arises when our villain decides that he is going to destroy all the boxtrolls in order to get more recognition with the cheese-obsessed leaders of the city. So now our main kid needs to find out a way to save the boxtrolls.

What really makes this movie work is the boxtrolls themselves. They don't speak much at all. All they do is make their little grunting noises, but they are just plain out adorable. I liked them in the same way that I liked the minions from Despicable Me. I felt bad that the boxtrolls were seen as monsters and I felt even worse when they started to get taken by our villain. And speaking of the villain, he's voiced by Ben Kingsley who completely knocks his performance out of the park. I didn't even realize it was Ben Kingsley until the end credits, which makes it even more impressive. While Kingsley was my favorite voice actor in this, really all of the voice actors do a good job in this. These performances include, but are not limited to Elle Fanning, Tracy Morgan, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. And not only are the voice actors good, but their corresponding characters are really interesting. There's a lot of character progression on a lot of different levels that made the story very good. Along with that, there was a lot of genuine humor, which is sometimes hard to find in a movie these days.

So yes, the best part of the movie is the animation. While not my favorite animated movie of the year (hard to compete with The LEGO Movie in that category), it certainly had the best animation of the year. When all is said and done and it's time for the Oscars, if the voters are looking strictly on the animation job when picking the best animated feature (which I feel is the case sometimes -- only way to explain Brave winning a couple of years back), The Boxtrolls should win. But the animation isn't the only thing this movie has going for it. It has great voice acting, lots of laughs, an engaging and sometimes dark story, great characters, and best of all a ton of adorable boxtrolls that I just fell in love with. I went into this movie with rather high expectations and I'm happy to say that this movie met them. Because of that, I am going to give The Boxtrolls a 9/10.

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