There's something about animation that I've always found magical. Even if the film is complete rubbish, I've always found something wonderful about them. The Boxtrolls follows the story of Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), a young human boy, yes describing him as human is important in this story, who at a young age was taken by Boxtrolls. Boxtrolls, if you can't guess, are essentially small trolls who live in boxes. As the years go by, the boxtroll population declines, forcing Eggs to leave the safety of his underground home in an attempt to save his friends.
The Boxtrolls features splendid animation, along with a splendid storyline. The Boxtrolls, although aimed at a younger audience, is a film that, no matter what your age is, you'll be able to find some form of enjoyment in. It's an innocent film that means well, and does well. The hand made claymation is alive and bursting with details, and it's captured mesmerisingly by the rather impressive cinematography. There's a shot early on in the film that's from the POV of Eggs as he's climbing up the sewer and entering into the town for the first time and, my god, the shot is amazing. The Boxtrolls never feels like it's a series of photos being played back at an incredibly fast pace. The film feels alive. The detail and precision that the people behind this, Paranorman, Coraline and many other films is just outstanding. They're yet to make a bad looking film, or even a bad film, if memory serves.
The only real flaw that The Boxtrolls has is that it tackles familiar themes and it's a bit predictable. Well, that's two flaws actually, but they both play into each other. The film's messages, I'd list them, but they'd imply several spoilers and I'm just not that type of guy (unless my review calls for a spoiler-filled paragraph), although relevant, have been done in many previous films, a handful of which were done to a greater extent than how they were in this film. These themes caused for a predictable story arc and character revelations. Since these themes were beginning to be established early on, the film went down a familiar path, resulting in familiar situations.
The voice cast bring light to these gloomy characters. The characters themselves don't have a lot going for them. They're all a bit clichéd. Energetic and exciting, but clichéd. The scenes with dialogue begin mediocre, coming across forced and cheesy, but then we're introduced to more and more characters, adding to my overall enjoyment towards the film. The scenes with the box trolls, however, are a lot more fun than those with the humans. It's not that the human characters fall flat, much like this year's Godzilla, but more that they're not as fun to be around.
To sum up, The Boxtrolls, although predictable and inferior to Paranorman, is a sweet film with stunning cinematography, wonderful claymation that's bursting with details and a voice cast that brings light to these gloomy characters.
3 1/2 Stars