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Perry’s Previews Movie Review & Filmmaker Interviews: The Boxtrolls

Published on: 13th October, 2014


Perry Chen with Travis Knight at The Boxtrolls Comic-Con media event (photo by Zhu Shen)

Perry Chen with Producer/Lead Animator, LAIKA CEO Travis Knight at The Boxtrolls Comic-Con media event (photo by Zhu Shen)

 

Perry’s Previews Movie Review: The Boxtrolls

(4 out of 5 starfish)

 

By Perry S. Chen

 

Oct 13, 2014

 

The story begins in a Victorian-era town called Cheeseridge, which holds a terrifying secret. Small, blue, humanoid creatures clad in cardboard boxes called boxtrolls emerge from the sewers every night to snatch up children and gobble them up to fuel their mountains of bones and rivers of blood. At least…that’s what the townsfolk believe. In reality, boxtrolls are quirky, mischievous creatures who have never hurt anyone, but the people fear them so much that a company of troll exterminators is created to capture every last boxtroll.

Sir Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright at Comic-Con panel (photo by Zhu Shen)

Sir Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright (R to L) at The Boxtrolls Comic-Con panel (photo by Zhu Shen)

 

The main character of the story is “Eggs,” (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) a human boy who is lovingly raised by the boxtroll named “Fish.” After many years of watching his friends dragged away by the ruthless exterminator, Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his henchmen, and helpless to do anything about it, Eggs finally decides to venture out in broad daylight to find out where Snatcher had taken the boxtrolls. Upon leaving his cave, Eggs encounters and befriends Winnie (Elle Fanning), the curious and slightly macabre daughter of the Lord Portley-Rind; the latter being the scatterbrained, cheese-obsessed mayor as well as Snatcher’s employer.

The Boxtrolls at 2014 Comic-Con (Photo by Zhu Shen)

The Boxtrolls at 2014 Comic-Con (Photo by Zhu Shen)

 

The Boxtrolls is a charming and quirky film that is a bit less dark and suspenseful as LAIKA’s previous animations, but with the same incredible visual effects. Personally, I feel that “The Boxtrolls” is a very creative and original film, unlike many of the recycled plots that are common in many animation films nowadays. To make such expressive faces and body language takes thousands of hours and countless assembling and props requires an unimaginable amount of painstaking effort, especially by the lead animator and producer Travis Knight, who is also the CEO of LAIKA Animation Studio.

 

I had the great privilege of interviewing Knight during the 2014 San Diego Comic Con for the second time, after we met at the Paranorman press junket in 2012. As the lead animator of this film, Travis knows everything about how to breathe life into his four-inch tall silicone puppets. Animating stop-motion is a tremendous challenge on both the body and the mind. Knight compares the mental process of animating to a game of chess. For him, the most difficult part of his job is animating the “subtle, sophisticated, small nuances” that make them seem like they are living, breathing beings. Travis even shared a fact that happened behind the scenes that he had never told anyone else before.  “I sliced my finger with an x-acto blade, because I was animating the puppets,” he revealed. “The blood kinda dripped into the cobblestones, and…I know exactly where to look; you can see my blood on the set.”

 Perry Chen interviewing directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi at Comic-Con (photo bt Zhu Shen)


Perry Chen interviewing directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi at Comic-Con (photo bt Zhu Shen)

 

Additionally, I was able to get a few comments from Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, the co-directors of The Boxtrolls at Comic-Con. The idea of the film was based on Alan Snow’s novel Here be Monsters. “[Snow] had such a fantastic, imaginative world that he created in that book that we wanted to do everything we could to recreate that feeling and that vibe,” explained Annable. “It’s not quite as scary as the other films that we did.” A little known fact about the crew of The Boxtrolls is that over 3000 donuts were eaten over the course of making the film. “Every Friday was ‘Donut Day,’” Stacchi explained. “You can imagine, nobody was ever sick on ‘Donut Day.’”

Perry Chen interviewing Sir Ben Kingsley at Comic-Con (photo by Zhu Shen)

Perry Chen interviewing Sir Ben Kingsley at Comic-Con (photo by Zhu Shen)

 

Finally, I got a scoop from Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley, who voiced the power-hungry antagonist, Snatcher. “I recorded lying down, so the body is as relaxed as possible to allow all of those changes in your voice to come out. If you’re tense in any way, [your voice] is the first thing that tenses up.” After interviewing him, my mom was very excited to get to meet him, because she is a big fan of his most famous role in “Ghandi,” and loved his work in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.”

Perry Chen getting drawings from directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi at Comic-Con (photo by Zhu Shen)

Perry Chen getting drawings from directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi at Comic-Con (photo by Zhu Shen)

Drawings of The Boxtrolls directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi for Perry Chen at 2014 Comic-Con

Drawings of The Boxtrolls directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi for Perry Chen at 2014 Comic-Con

I recommend this movie to kids seven and up. “The Boxtrolls” is a great movie for children and adults alike. Children would enjoy the slapstick and situational humor, while adults may understand the broad themes of desires for power and ethics. I give LAIKA’s “The Boxtrolls” 4 starfish, it’s “Perrific!”

 

Moral: It’s easy to hate what you don’t understand.  It takes courage to be different.

 

I wish to thank Arclight La Jolla for comps for the review, as I was unable to attend the regular press screening scheduled during school time.

 

Copyright 2014 by Perry S. Chen

————–

 

About Perry Chen:

Perry S. Chen is a 14-year-old award-winning child critic, artist, animator, TEDx speaker, and entertainment personality, currently in 8th grade from San Diego.  He started reviewing movies at age 8 in 3rd grade using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, and has been featured in CBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, CCTV (China Central Television), Variety, Animation Magazine, The Young Icons, The Guardian, The China Press, etc.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation, and has written movie reviews for Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews blog, as well as restaurant reviews for DiningOut San Diego Magazine and San Diego Entertainer. He won the San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2010, 2011, and 2013 for his movie and restaurant reviews.

Perry is currently writing, animating, and directing his most personal film to date, “Changyou’s Journey,” produced by his mom Dr. Zhu Shen, about his beloved father Dr. Changyou Chen, a cancer researcher who passed away in July 2012 from terminal cancer after a long, brave battle, please watch trailer and donate to support Perry’s animation film:

www.perryspreviews.com

Perry won an “Excellence in Journalism Award” from San Diego Press Club in 2010 and 2011 for his movie and restaurant reviews, an “Excellence Writer Award” from “We Chinese in America” Magazine in 2010 for his movie review column. Perry is widely recognized as an authoritative spokesperson about movies for his generation, and appears frequently at red carpet movie premieres, awards, and film festivals, interviewing prominent directors from such films as Toy Story 3, Up, How to Train Your Dragon.  He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation in Hollywood.  Perry and his mom Dr. Zhu Shen are featured in a new book about parenting and youth entrepreneurship, “The Parent’s Guide to Raising CEO Kids,” published in Aug 2011.

Perry’s first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest,” in collaboration with animation legend Bill Plympton, won multiple film festival awards and has been screened at over 30 international film festivals, now available on iTunes. More info: http://ingridpitt.co.uk

Watch “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” on iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/ingrid-pitt-beyond-the-forest/id554607718

Watch Perry on “Live Life & Win” national TV show:

http://vimeo.com/51042736

Become a fan on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/ingridpittanimation (Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest official FB page)

http://www.facebook.com/perryspreviewsfan (Perry’s Previews fan page)

Subscribe to Perry’s YouTube channel and watch his filmmaker interviews:

http://www.youtube.com/perryspreviews

Follow his tweets: http://twitter.com/perryspreviews

For business inquiries about Perry Chen, his animation films, movie reviews, contact Dr. Zhu Shen, bioforesight at gmail dot com

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