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September 12, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Hollywood loves an underdog and The Boxtrolls is a whole team of them: experts in turning trash into treasure, they are deemed pests and hunted to save the city. Led by Boxtroll/boy Eggs (Game Of Thrones’ Isaac Hempstead-Wright) against the cities’ bumbling proletariat and its hired hunters headed by the despicable Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley) who has slowly captured most of the Boxtrolls. Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi from the same company that brought Coraline and Paranorman to life, The Boxtrolls channels those movies’ sense of fun and frightening horror.

The Boxtrolls are named after the labels on the boxes they wear hence ‘Eggs’ and his foster father ‘Fish’, their language is condensed to incoherent babbling similar to that of the Minions in Despicable Me, although they may look poles apart they both have warm hearts. Of course this didn’t prevent younger audience members from becoming frightened of the Boxtrolls when I saw it, but that was only from the very young. Revelling in the genre of dark children’s tales, there’s lots of creepy and repulsive imagery especially for the villain Snatcher. It is also very imaginative when the Boxtrolls build things out of trash, in a sort of steampunk fashion.

The film begins with Snatcher making a deal with Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris from Sherlock Holmes 2, The Quiet Ones) to exterminate all the trolls in exchange for a seat with the proletariat and the clean white hat they get to wear. I felt the hats symbolised the class system in the film, with white hats belonging to the upper class and the red hats to the working class (Snatcher and his employees wear one each). The trolls don’t wear hats but are working nonetheless and may even represent children.

The deal is made in reply to the news that the trolls have killed a man and taken his son. The film then cuts to ten years later where Eggs is allowed to leave the underground world of the trolls and search the surface world for trash/treasure. Unfortunately Fish is captured and Eggs must venture further out into the surface world more than he has ever done before. He bumps into the young girl Winnie Portley-Rind (Maleficent‘s Elle Fanning) who is absolutely unnerving with her love of the macabre and adorable when her expectations are dashed and she sees the trolls are actually nice.


Together Eggs and Winnie take on her ignorant father, Snatcher and his bumbling employees. The employees are played by comedians Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Richard Ayoade; the former providing a hilarious in-credit scene that is certainly worth waiting for. However the comedy is somewhat lacking, you still can revel in the action and drama of this spooky story.

The Boxtrolls is a great adventure that children (of a mature age) can enjoy. Though it’s not as bright and comedic as other films, it has an original style and setting which will enchant children and adults alike. The film has emotion and depth from all its voice actors and a very good script that follows standard story arcs but also inhabits the world it’s set in. High on action, with a climactic ending and a subtle message about recycling, judging appearances, revolution and fatherhood, it’s a film for everyone to enjoy.

The Boxtrolls is released in UK cinemas on September 12th

Sunny Ramgolam