Why you were a kid, did you swear there were tiny creatures living beneath you? What creatures wouldn’t want to lurk in the crawlspace, basement, sewers or storm drains? Or sneak up and poke around your bedroom in the dark? It’s easy to imagine a tiny civilization that lurks in the shadows you tried to avoid. Kids have always had a fascination with the concept of nearly-human creatures that sneak out at odd moments such The Borrowers, Smurfs or Fraggles. In 2014, The Boxtrolls joined the after dark fun in the Fall of 2014. After the success of Caroline and ParaNorman, Laika brought its stop motion magic to Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters! novel. The result is a tale of what happens when the townsfolk do more than lock their doors to keep these menaces out.
The town of Cheesebridge, Norvenia has a problem. The’s a legend that beneath the city streets lurk subterranean menace as Boxtrolls. Why are they dubbed this way? Because those who have seen them swear they wear cardboard boxes. They aren’t considered cute by the human citizens because the story has it that years before the Boxtrolls abducted the Trubshaw Baby. When the Sun goes down, people lock their doors and windows and children are warned to stay inside or the Boxtrolls will get them next. The town leaders are tired of living in fear so they’ve hired Archibald Snatcher (Sexy Beast’s Ben Kingsley) to exterminate the menace. What they don’t know is that the Boxtrolls aren’t that horrible. Fish (Steven Universe‘s Dee Bradley Baker) has been raising the baby as his own son Eggs (Game of Thrones‘ Isaac Hempstead Wright). The kid wears a box like the rest of the trolls. When the magical creatures do rise up during night, they aren’t out for blood and flesh of humans. The Boxtrolls are collecting trash and turning them into creative inventions. None of the humans care about the truth since they are obsessed with the legends. They are excited when Snatcher begins to have success at ridding the village. It’s up to Eggs to come up with a solution. But will either side listen to him?
The Boxtrolls is a visually treat with the stop motion characters involved in their various obsessions. Whether it be creating new inventions or lusting after rare cheeses, it’s easy to think the characters are alive. Getting to see the action in 4K UHD also makes the figures seem a bit more believable. They do have a great voice cast including Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Toni Collette, Nick Frost Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan and Simon Pegg. They add to the craziness of a town that wants to rid itself of its truly only creative class. The movie is nearly a decade old and still feels fresh on the screen. You’ll want to keep it in a Steelbook so it stands out on your home video shelf. The Boxtrolls will have you curious at what device they’ll think up next and if they’ll survive Snatcher’s evil plans.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 4K UHD image really brings out the grimy nature of the characters and locations in the film. The audio on the 4K UHD disc is 7.1 Dolby Atmos to take you into the strange spaces. There’s also a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track. The French and Spanish dubs are in Digital Surround. The Blu-ray has 5.1 DTS-HD MA track. The French and Spanish dubs are in Digital Surround. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.
Blu-ray disc with all the bonus features.
Audio Commentary with directors Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi has them discuss all the details on the screen. Stop motion is a long process so they have plenty of tales about making the screen action look natural.
Inside LAIKA: Discovering the Characters of The Boxtrolls (9:33) goes into how they made the various characters come off as individuals on the screen.
Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team has them show off Mr. Pickles & Mr. Trout, Lord Portley-Rind, Archibald Snatcher, Winnie, Fish & Shoe and Eggs.
Feature Length Storyboards (96:06) is a rough 2-D version of the movie with the final soundtrack.
Dare To Be Square: Behind the Scenes of The Boxtrolls (33:17) explores voicing the Boxtrolls, Inside the Box, The Big Chees, Deconstructing the Dance and The Mecha Drill.
The Nature of Creation (2:54) explains how they have to design and build everything that appears on screen. The art director loves being able to build all the elements of the film.
Trolls Right Off the Tongue (2:47) goes into the voice studio to understand the language of the Boxtrolls.
Allergic to Easy (2:58) has the crew discuss how they pushed what they knew and went to physically impossible spaces. They go into how they made one minor character’s face bloat.
Let’s Dance (1:57) has their version of David Bowie’s song while showing what went into making the little figures for the stop motion action.
On the Shoulders of Giants (2:29) has the creators go into what goes into the giant robot to make it look real as it stomps around the city.
Still Galleries includes Character Art (2:06), Concept Art (2:06) and Behind the Scenes (2:05). There’s a lot of work to make 2-D become 3-D.
Trailer (2:37) has a town that locks up overnight to keep the Boxtrolls away from them.
Shout! Factory and LIAKA present The Boxtrolls. Directed by Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi. Screenplay by Irena Brignull & Adam Pava. Starring Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, and Simon Pegg. Running Time: 96 minutes. Rated PG. Release Date: February 28, 2023.