Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie with Abe: The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls
Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Released September 26, 2014

You’d think at a certain point that it would be hard to create a universe about some kind of creatures or society existing just outside the normal human realm that would seem both original and compelling. Yet one of this year’s top animated films has done just that with the Boxtrolls, a group of trolls who dart around the fake English city of Cheesebridge wearing boxes, hunted by the cheese-obsessed human population that sees them as a vicious threat to be quashed lest they endanger the livelihood and stability of all that is good in the name of cheese.

The presence of a people such as the Boxtrolls inherently demands that they have some sort of interaction with the human race, and the way in which that is done in this film is clever and endearing. One paternal Boxtroll calls out for “Eggs” repeatedly at the start of the film, and eventually finds a smiling human baby who has been outfitted with a box carton that says “eggs.” Soon, the baby grows into a boy whose perception of the world is severely warped by the fact that he believes that, like those with whom he spends all his time, he is a Boxtroll.

There is much be said for the messages of diversity and tolerance that this film promotes, and that’s long been a hallmark of animated films, to find a creative way to show difference as it might manifest itself in a more undeniable way than just skin color, shape, or size. It’s a less artsy companion piece to last year’s Oscar-nominated “Ernest and Celestine,” which dispelled long-held fable myths about bears and mice. This film also amps up the human despicability factor as the Boxtroll-hunters are downright evil and those meant to seem less deplorable are merely self-obsessed and impossibly ignorant.

This film, based on Alan Snow’s novel “Here Be Monsters,” strongly employs a few choice talent to voice its characters. Ben Kingsley is the scenery-chewing Archibald Snatcher, whose name just about gives away his purpose in life. Jared Harris is Lord Portley-Rind, who is so blinded by his haughty nature that he can’t see that his life is filled with nothing but pompousness and cheese. The animation is great, and all elements of the film come together to create something more polished and resounding than might have been expected given the film’s premise.


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