The Boxtrolls (2014)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good actors, animation

Just not a big fan of the story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Boxtrolls

Studio:  Laika

Genre(s):  Animated/Action/Adventure/Comedy/Family

Release Date(s):  August 31, 2014 (Venice Film Festival)/September 26, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG


Someday when I grow up, I’ll be a troll!

The town of Cheesebridge worships the all-mighty cheese but spends its nights fearing the menace of the Boxtrolls.  The Boxtrolls haunt the nights and steal whatever they can including the Trubshaw baby!  Eggs is a small boy who lives among the Boxtrolls and finds his friends disappearing as Archibald Snatcher vows to wipeout the Boxtrolls to earn his way into the elite White Hats.  Eggs is forced to go to the streets of Cheesebridge to find his missing friends and reveal the real secrets of the Boxtrolls with the help of Winnie Portley-Rind, the daughter of the leader of the White Hats!

Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, The Boxtrolls is based on Alan Snow’s 2005 children’s book Here Be Monsters!  The movie was a critical and financial success that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature (losing to Big Hero 6).


Kill the Boxtrolls!

I was a big fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, a so-so fan of Corpse Bride, and liked Coraline slightly more.  I admire stop-motion animation and the skill it takes to make it smooth and seamless.  The Boxtrolls however doesn’t work well for me.

The story feels like an attempt to mimic Roald Dahl’s style of writing.  I love Roald Dahl but this feels like someone writing it who doesn’t quite have the grasp of what makes Dahl great.  Dahl is scary and you don’t know if characters are going to live or die…here while the story is horrific and sometimes has great potential to scare, it doesn’t live up to that fear.  In addition, the wordplay just isn’t up to the level.

The story meanders and fizzles.  The final battle with Snatcher feels anticlimactic.  The danger just isn’t there and then the story goes to a weird hostage stand-off involving Archibald’s cheese allergy that feels disconnected from the action.  The story has little flow.


What…is there something on my face?

What is The Boxtrolls saving grace is that it does look good.  The style and the look of the movie echoes not only Dahl’s world but the world of German expressionists.  It is visually creative and the character designs are neat…but I don’t think the story lives up to the potential of the visuals.

The Boxtrolls is my least favorite nominated film of the Best Picture nominees for the year in a year in which controversy arose that the highly popular and successful film The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated.  A lot of people pointed to the two hardly seen films (Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya), but I felt the more widely seen Boxtrolls was the weakest of the batch.  It isn’t a bad movie but it isn’t a strong movie either…it is art over substance.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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