THE BOXTROLLS

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

Di­rected by An­thony Stac­chi, Gra­ham Annable. Voices of Ben Kings­ley, Isaac Hemp­stead Wright, Elle Fan­ning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Toni Col­lette, Jared Har­ris, Nick Frost

re­lease, 96 min Ex­pect many re­view­ers to ask whether the lat­est an­i­ma­tion from Laika – the stu­dio be­hind Co­ra­line and ParaNor­man – is too scary for frail young chil­dren. There are cer­tainly a fair few grue­some di­ver­sions in this ter­rific Gothic fable. Set in a per­ilously tow­er­ing city named Cheese­town, the loose adap­ta­tion of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters se­ries con­cerns a tribe of well-in­ten­tioned troglodytes that ap­pears to have ab­ducted a hu­man baby and made it their own.

Along the way, the most evil character mu­tates into an acrome­galic mass of pus­tules, the trolls are forced into slave labour and a kind of geno­cide ap­pears to take place. No­body will mis­take the film for My Lit­tle Pony.

It shouldn’t need to be said (again) that chil­dren lap up this sort of glee­ful hor­ror. Set be­side the sto­ries of the Brothers Grimm, The

PG cert, gen Boxtrolls – its bones warmed by re­lent­less black hu­mour – seems like some­thing of a bank-hol­i­day romp. Pre­sented in the stu­dio’s trade­mark en­hanced stop-mo­tion, the movie fol­lows young Eggs as, after a child­hood in the Boxtrolls’ nether world, he comes to ques­tion his iden­tity and seek a life with his hu­man coun­ter­parts. It’s a grim, hier­ar­chi­cal city. Pompous idiots in white hats rule so­ci­ety. Mean monsters in red hats seek to ex­ter­mi­nate the trolls.

Fea­tur­ing mag­nif­i­cent voice work from the likes of Ben Kings­ley and Elle Fan­ning, the pic­ture lives up to Laika’s high stan­dards of imag­i­na­tive ar­ti­fice. But it is most re­mark­able for its at­tempts to grap­ple with philo­soph­i­cal quan­daries. If you’re look­ing for a fam­ily film that ques­tions moral de­ter­min­ism then Boxtrolls is your only man. Don’t fret. The kids are up to it.

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