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The fable unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least that's the legend residents have always believed. In truth the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and loveable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells.

Review by Louise Keller:
The stop-motion animation is extraordinary, but there is something lacking in this third film from Laika Studios - heart. The question is whether audiences will warm to the ugly world of the Boxtrolls, wonderfully detailed and intricate as it is? The characters have little that is endearing about them - they are teal-coloured creatures with pointy ears, bad teeth and an irritating way of communicating by making indecipherable grunts. The strength of the film is the astonishing reality created by the filmmakers. But the film has none of the charm of its predecessors, Coraline and Paranorman. The source material comes from Alan Snow's novel Here Be Monsters with the film's villain, Archibald Snatcher (boomingly voiced by Ben Kingsley, a cross between an unappealing Tim Burton character with balloon body and Sacha Baron Cohen in Les Mis), getting the most screen time.

The storytelling starts badly as it unsuccessfully tries to explain why Boxtrolls are feared as it introduces the men in red hats who search the cobbled streets for them late at night. It takes a while before we understand that the protagonist, a boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright), is in fact the child the Boxtrolls were believed to have eaten years ago. The fact that Eggs believes he is one of them and wears a matching cardboard box as part of his clothing, is a sweet touch. The story strand to which youngsters will relate is the one between Eggs and Winnie (voice of Elle Fanning), daughter of the town's aristocratic Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris), a colourful character with impressive twirling red moustache and whose tall white hat symbolizes his status as the town of Cheesebridge's Big Cheese. The ball scene in which Winnie introduces Eggs to her father is amusing enough but there are too few such moments.

I smiled at Snatcher's cross-dressing Madame Frou Frou and the explosive cheese allergy that causes his face to swell to hideous proportions. But the tone is pitched at hysterical levels throughout with little light or shade to offer a satisfying emotional journey. By the film's end, I was tired of the shouting. It's a shame because the visuals are marvelous.

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(US, 2014)

VOICES: Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley, Tracy Morghan, Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost, Jared Harris

PRODUCER: David Bleiman Ichioka, Travis Knight

DIRECTOR: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi

SCRIPT: Irena Brignull (novel by Alan Snow)


EDITOR: Edie Ichioka

MUSIC: Paul Lasaine


RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 18, 2014

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