There are only so many ‘clever and quirky’ animations that can be released before they leave you feeling hollow inside – and this does just that.
That’s not to say there isn’t some commendable aspects to this heavily British influenced stop-motion effort – with some great voice-work, grotesquely dark visuals and inventive characters – but it’s unfortunately a bit too niche to really appeal to children of all ages.
The makers’ previous efforts – Coraline and particularly Paranorman – impressively boxed you into their worlds right from the start, but by the time this opens up, it really struggles to pull you in after a somewhat trudging first half.
The Boxtrolls – a community of mischievous cave-dwelling creatures who hide in cardboard boxes to avoid detection – have lovingly raised orphaned boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) in their underground trash collecting home beneath the streets of Cheesebridge.
But when the villainous exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) plots to rid the town of the so-called ‘child eating’ monsters to enhance his status in the cheese-loving society – after striking a deal with the leader of the elite ‘White Hats’ Lord Portley-Rind – Eggs befriends the Lord’s feisty daughter Winnie (Maleficent’s Elle Fanning), after he ventures from the murkiness of the sewers to help save his adopted family.
Sadly, despite a plot that tries to offer up ingenuity, it’s almost too ‘wacky’ for it’s own good, and will probably appeal more to adults – with it’s morbid visual stylisation and more high-brow comedic script – than the young ‘uns.
The British contingent – which includes noteworthy co-starring turns from Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Simon Pegg – add to the sporadic quirkiness of the piece, but this isn’t in the same league as similarly dark animations.
The risk-taking aspect always deserves to be commended – but ‘living in a box’ isn’t a hit this time round.
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Voice Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Toni Collette, Richard Ayoade & Simon Pegg
Running Time: 1 Hr 35 Mins
Directors: Anthony Stacchi & Graham Annable [youtube id=”Q2dFVnp5K0o” width=”600″ height=”350″]