Laika Entertainment has earned a reputation for making 3D stop-motion animated films that make for smart and funny entertainment for the whole family, in addition to being gutsier than your average kids' movie - see Coraline and ParaNorman - and willing to address social hot topics, in a manner that's subtle, understated and good-humored. That, in a nutshell, is what the studio is promising to deliver with its next feature, titled The Boxtrolls, judging by the newly-released teaser trailer (with its playful discussion about the various forms of a proper family structure).
The Boxtrolls, based on Alan Snow's best-selling novel "Here Be Monsters", weaves an imaginative yarn about Cheesbridge, a prim and proper Victorian-era town that is obsessed with wealth, class and the stinkiest of fine cheeses Lurking beneath the clean cobblestone streets and well-crafted buildings of Cheesebridge are Boxtrolls, a league of mysterious beings who are rumored to be foul and loathsome monsters that sneak out from the sewers at night and steal any child and/or piece of cheese that they can manage to get their claws on.
Check out the poster for The Boxtrolls:
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In reality, though, the Boxtrolls are a harmless bunch of oddball creature, who tend to reside underground and wear recycled cardboard boxes. Isaac Hempstead-Wright (a.k.a. Bran Stark on Game of Thrones) voices Eggs, an orphaned human boy who was raised by the Boxtrolls and who eventually grows up to become the key to bridging the two separate worlds, after he befriends an adventurous rich girl named Winnie (Elle Fanning).
The Boxtrolls boasts a clever and timely premise, as weas co-adapted for the big screen by Irena Brignull (I Capture the Castle) and Adam Pava (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends). There is good reason to believe that the film's directors Graham Annable (a story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman) and Anthony Stacchi (co-director of Open Season) could realize that setup well enough to ensure that the film rivals Laika's previous releases, in terms of the artistic quality.
Animation-wise, the human characters in Boxtrolls have a similar exaggerated and stylized physical design as the human players featured in Coraline and ParaNorman (i.e. caricatures that represent an artists' impressions of certain stereotypes, not a realistic portrayal). ParaNorman, in particular, was good at this, but the film also left some room for improvement in the character development department, for a future Laika production like Boxtrolls.
Hopefully, with Boxtrolls, Laika will continue to grow and establish itself as a studio that is at the forefront of animation storytelling. Similarly, there's potential for the film to provide young moviegoers with useful lessons about life, by dealing with relevant issues like diversity and tolerance. It would be a welcome change of pace if more older viewers proved receptive to that; as opposed to, throwing around wild accusations of indoctrination (like what happened last year in response to The Lorax and the revelation that one of the heroes in ParaNorman is gay).
The Boxtrolls opens in U.S. theaters on September 26th, 2014.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers