All original written content is (c) 2014 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: Laika, the studio that brought you PARANORMAN (reviewed here) and CORALINE, try to top themselves with a kooky kid tale about a boy living with trolls who dress in boxes called boxtrolls (duh).
They’re being hunted in a tiny “old world” British town named Cheesebridge. The boy, Eggs, meets a snarky girl, has adventures and (surprise!) learns valuable life lessons in the process.
Written by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava, based on the kid’s book, THERE BE MONSTERS, by Alan Snow; Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi.
- Holy monkey crap, the characters were awesome. The faces, the bodies, the expressions, everything just looked not only cool, but iconic. They’ll stay with you after the film. Especially the people, more than the trolls. Distorted to no end but somehow believable and perfectly suited for the voices. Pixar would be envious.
- Top-notch stop-motion animation. Gotta win an Oscar easily.
- The sets were equally cool, some more than others. Contraptions and such were original and impressive. Perspective was all wonky and fun–imagine stairs drawn freehand (like that monkey Pascale does ‘cause he’s too lazy to use a straight edge). [MIKE: Hey!]
- I really sympathized with the brats, which ain’t easy ‘cause I don’t like brats. The little girl was hilarious and the boy was likable.
- The villain was appropriately evil and his henchmen well-cast. The snooty rich folks were totally snooty. And wait till you see Madame Frou Frou!
- Very inventive and creative setup with the trolls, how they work, communicate, live and work.
- Chase scenes and action were amusement-park fun and suspenseful. Nothing too intense for kids, but those really little ones might be scared at the evil guys.
- Great voices: Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Issac Hempstead Wright, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, even Tracy Morgan (get well, dude!) and Simon Pegg, among others.
- Didn’t see it in 3D but I bet it looked great!
- No button at the end credits, but stay for the initial, animated ones. There’s a fascinating and funny bit showing the stop-motion process!
- Heartwarming ending if you’re into that kind of thing.
- One big bit of plot weirdness. At one point a character reveals a major secret, the crowd gasps, and then goes right on with what they were doing and everyone ignores him. (They had to for the plot, but it didn’t make sense.)
- The girl’s dad is a dick. He’s supposed to be, but I didn’t buy his “redemption” that much. And there’s a lot of talk about what good fathers are, but no one ever mentions moms. Huh?
- Despite the great design, I hated Mr. Gristle. I kept hoping someone would pound the little sadist.
- Some of the skin textures in the extreme closeups looked funny; like there were dissolves or a blurring effect.
- Long opening stretch without dialog or explanation, but you get it. Little kids might get bored easily. (But at least those in the theater where I saw it were entertained because it was a lot quieter than most kids flicks, especially the Ninja Turtles.)
Especially if you saw PARANORMAN in the theater or are in the animation/movie/art biz. Cool to see the wild visuals and designs on the big screen. Otherwise, wait till you can rent it. The “making of” would be fascinating. Whether you buy it or not would depend on the extras and your level of interest in them. Whatever you decide, you’ll enjoy it!
P.S.: Pascale loves drawing stop-motion characters. He’ll start and stop just like the animators, except he draws a little, has a snack, draws a little, scratches himself, draws a little… But you’ll get some cool art for a fair price. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, or people with English accents. Bru wants to see himself stop-motion animated. But he mainly wants to see someone animate a beer to his fridge.