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The Boxtrolls (2014)

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  • Directed by: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
  • With: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost
  • 96 Minutes

From the creators of Coraline and Paranorman comes this sweet and funny adventure that will please the entire family with characters and a lesson you won’t forget. The Boxtrolls sets the bar really high for this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature contenders. Nowadays it’s rare to find a movie made with the heart and soul this one had, technology allowed a huge improvement in the animation field but at the same time kids are being introduced to the world of cinema with movies with no particular message or things to enjoy through years. I know that there are several exceptions but when a guy like me is exposed to a well-made movie like this one, memories from childhood years rise and that feeling of a great work is constantly there. The amazing work and the concept behind The Boxtrolls allow it to impress its viewers and it’s impossible to ignore the way it conquers your heart from the beginning to the end.

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In Cheesebridge, a modest city controlled by men who loved cheese, humans coexist with some curious and quirky creatures with bodies covered by boxes. The Boxtrolls were kind and funny and the thing they loved to do the most was to design and create stuff from everyday objects. Seen as monsters by the citizens, the poor little monsters only leave their home by night to look for curious and interesting objects that could be part of their amazing creations. Beneath the huge buildings and the large streets, the curious creatures were taking care of a young boy named “Eggs”, who lived peacefully with them even though humans believed that they would eat them during the night. To “protect” the people from Cheesebridge, a vicious and evil man with a tremendous wish of power, decided to exterminate all the creatures to gain the citizens’ support. Threatened by this exterminator night after night, the Boxtrolls need to gain some courage and strength and Eggs might be the solution for their problem.

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The characters of the movie reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Christmas” for the way they interact with the viewer. The evil guys are really mean but two of them constantly doubt if what they’re doing is the right thing. Controlled by a vicious man who wanted to achieve power by all means, the team of bad guys worked as puppets at his hands. The governors of the city were like the most incompetent guys I’ve seen. Instead of dealing with the town’s issues, the brave and powerful men passed most of their days tasting and talking about cheese. The family values and the needed to help the other are therefore lost in the middle of vanity and greatness and this ends up driving a poor little girl into the world of Boxtrolls. Eggs is a courageous guy, helped and raised mostly by Fish and Shoe, who learns how to behave and how to build things thanks to the curious creatures that were seen as threats by the citizens of Cheesebridge. He is friends with all the trolls and he tries to teach them how to be brave so that they could fight against the vicious exterminators. It’s funny to see him believing he was one of them and the way he tries to help the friends that were constantly there to help him is a lovely way to represent the power of friendship. I have seen the Portuguese version of the movie so I can’t say anything about the characters. However, by looking at the names of some of the cast members it’s clear that The Boxtrolls rules in every aspect. From Ben Kingsley and Elle Fanning to Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the amount of great voices is too damn high.

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The soundtrack works pleasantly well alongside with the adventure and it’s funny to see how everyday topics and issues are represented in the movie. There’s the father incapable of proving he loved his own daughter. There’s the evil man who wanted to achieve power without caring about the way he should do it and there is this clear image of what a family should really be. It’s funny to see how the citizens’ opinion works and how wrong they are for believing in a guy who didn’t show any evidences about the threat he was protecting everyone from. The Boxtrolls is about courage, about changing and about knowing who we really are and for the reasons mentioned above it deserves to be seen by everyone. The story is constantly improving and finale left me with a big smile on my face.

Visually brilliant, amazingly executed and with a touch of heart and soul in it, The Boxtrolls is one top quality animated movie with great characters, a lovely plot and a good lesson to take from it. It has substance and heart and a tremendous cast. The visual effects are really good and again the stop-motion style reveals itself as one of the best ways to design and create a world in an animated movie. I found the 3D quite good and even though it doesn’t had that much to add to the movie it improved some specific scenes. Funny, creative and impressive, The Boxtrolls deserves to be seen by kids and adults and it gives you a reason to take your family to the nearest theater.

★★★★½

IF

Gone Girl: Book vs. Movie

Yesterday I’ve published my review for Fincher’s Gone Girl and I’ve tried to avoid spoilers at all cost but now, it’s time for me to explore the movie and the book and make a small comparison. If you’re expecting one of those adaptations that are only faithful to the main plot of the book I can guarantee you that this is not the case. The fact that the book’s author, Gillian Flynn is the responsible for the screen adaptation actually makes everything more interesting. There aren’t big differences with the book and from my perspective (the one from a guy who loved the book) this is probably one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve seen. Gone Girl is violent, raw and thrilling from the beginning to the end… A story about a crappy marriage that is about to change for worse after the wife’s disappearance. The influence of the media in the case is one of the strongest and more realistic details of the story because it represents the way politics are made and how a guy can easily be judged without any evidence. After watching the movie, for those who’ve read the book, here’s a description of what you won’t find in Fincher’s adaptation.

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From missing characters to some events that happen in a different way, Fincher’s adaptation is reliable and thankfully the movie allows its viewers to experience everything the readers have. Nick and Amy’s relationship began in a somehow different way. Yes they met in a party and after they leave they walk towards a local bakery where they immerse themselves in a cloud of powdered sugar. But their relationship has only actually begun several months after, when Amy runs into Nick and he claims to have lost her number. Most of the anniversary clues and most of the locations were shown in the movie. From Nick’s father’s house (the alarm code deal and the place where Amy’s semi-burned diary was found) to the woodshed close to Margo’s house (the male sanctuary), the most essential parts of the treasure hunt are there. Only the clue that leads Nick to Hannibal, Missouri, is missing.

Yep, the ending is a bit different but it’s not in the way everyone is expecting. A week after Amy’s return, Nick starts writing a book about his side of the story so that he can leave her forever. Night after night Nick kept furiously typing his story while Amy began working on her memoirs too for a book called Amazing. This is not in the movie. Instead, Fincher’s adaptation focuses more on the troubled relationship they were living after Amy’s revelation that she was pregnant and that Nick was the father. Nick and Andie relationship also ends in a way it’s not shown in the book. While she wanted attention every day, Nick felt like he was trapped and because he couldn’t manage all the pressure he decided to abandon her. He tells her that if they don’t broke up he’s going to end up in jail but the only thing she believes in is that he likes Amy and he was only with her to have some fun. After the breakup she bites one of his cheeks and for the days that followed everyone kept asking Nick what was wrong with his face.

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In the novel, Nick walks into a bar after watching his own crowded and after there he meets a young crime blogger who wants to interview him. Drunk, he decides to use the opportunity to control the story by telling how sorry he was for failing his wife. The video goes viral and suddenly the public opinion became mixed. None of this is shown in the movie. Not even Betsy Bolt, a former TV news anchor and Tanner’s wife, involved in Nick’s training before his big interview. Jacqueline Collings also doesn’t appear in the movie at all so we don’t see her claiming for her son’s innocence.

One of Amy’s high school victims was also left out of the scene but besides all this, which are not that relevant things to the story, everything is faithful to the book. Andie, Nick’s father and Amy’s parents have less importance in the movie but Fincher and Flynn did a terrific job by condensing the entire novel in two hours and a half filled with thrilling events and strong emotions. Gone Girl is an obligatory thriller for everyone.

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