Film Review : The Boxtrolls (2014)

IMDB Score – 6.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 75%
Metacritic Score – 61
Oscar Nominated for Best Animated Feature
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Directed By – Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Starring – Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, and Simon Pegg

A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children’s novel ‘Here Be Monsters’ by Alan Snow.

One of my best friends has seen this movie like five times. He likes movies but is so busy all the time that he doesn’t get a chance to see much. He saw this film FIVE TIMES. Seeing as The Boxtrolls has recently been released on Netflix, my excuses have run dry and it was time to see the film my friend calls one of his favorite movies.

I liked it. I can’t say I liked it nearly as much as he did, but I liked it.

The Boxtrolls tells the story of Eggs, a boy growing up in the sewers and aptly named after the box he wears as weird vest/shirt thing. The Boxtrolls spend their night rummaging through the garbage while the rest of the town sleeps. This garbage is taken down below and turned into crazy inventions. They’re like little elves except stinkier and not as cute. Archibald Snatcher is a lunatic that wants to eradicate the Boxtrolls from the town in order to obtain a white hat and attend cheese parties. Yes, this film is British.

Laika, the production company that makes stop motion films, made one of my favorite animated films of all time in Coraline. The film was like a dark Grimm fairy tale and the animation was fresh and alive. Their second film, Paranorman, was also dark and surprisingly very funny. The story didn’t grasp me as much as Coraline did, but I still enjoyed it. The Boxtrolls is a bit like Paranorman but less dark. These creatures aren’t scary at all. They have animalistic little voices and are generally kind spirited and fun. All the evil and darkness comes from Archibald Snatcher, voiced terrifically by Ben Kingsley. It’s a good versus evil story arch that has been done plenty of times before, but in this case a very unique and different world. That’s what made this movie work for me. The fact that it was also gorgeously shot and animated helped out a great deal too. Kids should be able to find some great lessons tucked away in the story of the film. Pride of your personality and where you came from are themes you can’t really miss. Frankly, I just enjoyed watching the way they animated this thing, and listening to the voice acting. There was some real talent on display behind the microphone here. The three henchmen played by Frost, Morgan, and Ayoade were perhaps my favorite part of the film.

It may be my least favorite Laika film, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s unique, funny, and gorgeously shot and should provide for some rewatchability, but maybe not five times worth.

Also, now we know what happened to Bran Stark this season.


Film Review : Post Tenebras Lux (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato – 55%
Netflix Instant Watch

Directed By – Carlos Reygadas
Starring – Adolfo JimĂ©nez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Rut Reygadas, Eleazar Reygadas, and Willebaldo Torres

Juan and his urban family live in the Mexican countryside, where they enjoy and suffer a world apart. And nobody knows if these two worlds are complementary or if they strive to eliminate one another.

Hmmmm. Ummmmm, well….hmmmmmm.

I don’t really know what to write about with this one. I heard about this film from and their annual “25 Films of 2013” montage. I forget what number they had it listed as but the fact that they included it on the list at all is telling. I have no idea what I really just watched. I like ambitious cinema. I can deal with experimental films that don’t necessarily have a plot or story but basically rely on scattered ideas. I just couldn’t with this film. It was like it was trying to be edgy and deep and only came off as pretentious and stupid.

Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas seemed like he took very personal events in his life and tried to symbolize them in the form of this film. The problem is that nobody but him has any idea what the hell he is trying to say. There were red glowing devils, people tearing their heads off, random ass rugby games in England, sex parties with the joy of sex completely taken out of the equation, robberies gone wrong. All of these things were just strewn together as if they were supposed to scream something but I just didn’t get what they were trying to tell me.

I will say thought that the only reason this wasn’t a complete bomb was that there was some great still camerawork in the film. Shots of a Mexican forest and dark thunderstorms were the highlight for me. The filmed opened with a gorgeous shot at dusk as a thunderstorm came roaring through. A little girl is wandering through a damp muddy field looking for her parents and at one point it’s so dark that you can only see the silhouette of her during each lightning strike. That was gorgeous. It’s on Netflix so if you’re adventurous enough to check it out it is readily available. You can at least take in the wonderful opening scene as it’s really one of only a few highlights.