At first I was not interested in The Boxtrolls movie. That’s why it took me several years to watch it: and only because I have free Netflix for a month. It looked like yet another human-child-is-raised-by-those-who-are-not-his/her-kind-but-realizes-he/she-is-human-after-all kind of movie.
It was cute, and I was prepared to ho-humm through it until I got a look at the villain known as Archibald Snatcher: the man who promised to kill every boxtroll n the town of Cheeseville.
He is the first person you see in the movie and I quickly realized he was the most wonderful and “beautiful” villain I have ever seen.
He is a “Red Hat” who works in the town of Cheeseville, where they are obsessed with, what else, cheese. Archibald wants to be a White Hat: the upper crust cheese tasters. He wants it so badly that he will kidnap and kill to be one. He wants it so badly that he will disguise himself as an actress; a really ugly actress. He wants it so much that he ignores the fact that he is severely lactose intolerant.
This guys face and eyes were so extremely expressive that I was mesmerized. He was delightfully delicate with the use of his hands: as he unconsciously played with the few strands of hair he had left. I’m not even going to write about his horrible teeth since just about everyone in the town had horrible teeth. I guess this is what happens when you have a poor diet and no town dentist.
Stills of this character do not do him justice. You have to see him in action. The Laika team has done the best job I have seen in a while.
This is another creation of Laika Studeo: the people who gave us Coriline, Paranorman, and now Kubo and the Two Strings.
This is a movie done in stop motion. But no more sliding feet. Thanks to computer techniques one can render wires invisible, so characters can leap and run. The majority of people call this stop motion technique, claymation. Being old school I bristle at that description. Here is why. Claymation was a copyrighted name: not a generic description. There actually was a Claymation studio owned by Will Venton. Do you remember The Noid from Domino’s Pizza, the rabbit from Michael Jackson’s Speed Demon, The California Raisins? That was true Claymation. Now that the studio no longer exists everyone uses the name without worry of a lawsuit. Even the official Boxtrolls site does not use the term in their description. They use the correct term, stop motion. In many instances I don’t even think clay is used. But hey; if the officials aren’t going to kvetch about the term, neither will I.
Half of Archie’s charm is his voice. This is wonderfully done by Ben Kingsley. It reminded me a little bit of Tim Curry in his Rocky Horror days. I don’t know a lot about British accents but I’m guessing this was either Cockney or West Ender.
So see the movie. It’s on Netflix and on video now. You don’t even have to see the entire movie. Watch for the first five minutes or so. If nothing else, watch it to see Archibald. He is just too much fun.