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The Boxtrolls (Limited Edition 4K SteelBook Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

An orphan boy is raised by underground, sewer-dwelling trolls who are now under attack by a villainous exterminator in a Victorian-era town that loves cheese, their class divides, and their children as much as they despise the trolls in this stop-motion animation adaptation of the Alan Snow novel 'Here Be Monsters!'.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The Boxtrolls is a stop-motion adaptation of Alan Snow’s Dickensian novel Here Be Monsters! By directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi for LAIKA studios (Coraline, ParaNorman).

Set in the Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge where the townspeople are obsessed with class, fine cheeses, and the protection of their children, a young boy is raised by by the sewer dwelling Boxtrolls, the ghoulish-looking creatures who wear cast-off cardboard boxes that people of Cheesebridge believe steal their children at night and eat them. That is the legend anyway, the truth is something different.

The boxtrolls are gentle, fun-loving creatures who do nothing more than come out at night to scavenge, and tinker in their underground world. The young boy they raise as one of their own, Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright), grows up believing himself to be a Boxtroll, until they are all targeted by the villainous Boxtroll exterminator Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley), who uses the opportunity to eliminate the Boxtrolls as part of his scheme to move up into the world of the elites, with the likes of Lord Portley-Rind (voiced by Jared Harris) and his circle of White Hat wearing fine cheese enthusiasts. When Portley-Rind’s young daughter Winnie (voiced by Elle Fanning) enters Eggs’ world he is confronted with the reality of being a boy and not a Boxtroll and Snatcher sees their newfound friendship as a key to resolving the issue between the Boxtrolls below and the people above once and for all – to his benefit of course.

The Boxtrolls is a clever if sometimes a little convoluted look at Victorian class issues in a modern Dickensian twist. As usual, the folks at LAIKA deliver brilliant stop-motion work that stands toe-to-toe with any 3DCGI animated film and in many instances looks even more organic due to the nature of the process.

This story, while lacking some of the wonder and suspense of a film like Coraline, is still fun to sit through and watch and does not ever feel like it is playing to strictly young audiences, like the best of what PIXAR does, the youngsters can an enjoy this film and the screenplay has enough complexities for adults to find it interesting on another level. Add to this juicy voice performances by Kingsley and Harris, with the youngsters Fanning and Hempstead-Wright also doing a bang-up job and The Boxtrolls is a strong film.

  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (2014)
  • The Boxtrolls (LAIKA Studios Edition) (Shout! Factory)
  • The Boxtrolls Limited Edition 4K SteelBook (Shout! Factory)
  • The Boxtrolls Limited Edition 4K SteelBook (Shout! Factory)

The Video

The Boxtrolls comes with a new 4K restoration in a 1.78:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. HDR10 metadata shows a MaxLL of 410 nits and MaxFALL of 197 nits. The film’s stills were taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. The earth tones of The Boxtrolls do not ‘pop’ as much as other LAIKA films like Coraline or Kubo and the Two Strings, but the palette comes across well, nevertheless in this 4K transfer. The textures are a little crisper, and range of colors a bit wider in this new release. The specular highlights standout nicely, especially in the boxtrolls’ living space, where lights have a dazzling warm, amber glow against shadows. Flames present with excellent ‘pop’ and show storng contrast against dark backgrounds.

The Audio

There is a new lossless Dolby Atmos audio mix for The Boxtrolls on 4K Ultra HD. The 5.1 mix for this film on Blu-ray is excellent and this lifts that well-balanced, clear mix up to a new level with the inclusion of the height channels that incorporate superb ambience and atmospheric effects. The standout moments are the action sequences, but this mix also shows such wide range capturing the whisper quite sound of crickets chirping at night all the way to the bombastic, deeply resonant booms and crashes during chase scenes.

The Supplements

All supplements were previously released, some on the LAIKA Studios Edition Blu-ray (which is included along with this 4K disc), from Shout! Factory and some from before that. There are no new bonus features, but for the collectors who have not purchased the previous Shout! release then this is a windfall of extras.

  • Blu-ray with feature film and bonus features
  • Commentary with Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
  • Inside LAIKA: Discovering the Characters of The Boxtrolls (1080p; 00:09:33)
  • Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team (1080p):
    • Pickles & Mr. Trout (00:01:37)
    • Lord Portley-Rind (00:01:13)
    • Archibald Snatcher (00:01:52)
    • Winnie (00:01:21)
    • Fish & Shoe (00:01:59)
    • Eggs (00:01:23)
  • Feature-Length Storyboards
  • Forward (booklet) by Ramin Zahed, the Editor in Chief of Animation Magazine
  • Dare to Be Square: Behind the Scenes of The Boxtrolls (1080p; 00:33:17):
    • Voicing The Boxtrolls
    • Inside the Box
    • The Big Cheese: Allergy Snatcher
    • Deconstructing the Dance
    • Think Big: The Mecha Drill
  • The Nature of Creation (1080p; 00:02:54)
  • Trolls Right off the Tongue (1080p; 00:02:47)
  • Allergic to Easy (1080p; 00:02:58)
  • Let’s Dance (00:01:57)
  • On the Shoulders of Giants (1080p; 00:02:29)
  • Still Galleries – Character Art, Concept Art, and Behind the Scenes Galleries (1080p)
  • Trailer (1080p)

The Final Assessment

The Boxtrolls in 4K is yet another must-own release of a gorgeous, fun family film. Highly recommended.


The Boxtrolls Limited Edition 4K SteelBook is out February 28, 2023, from Shout! Factory.


  • Rating Certificate: PG (for action, some peril and mild rude humor)
  • Studios & Distributors: Focus Features (presents) (uncredited) | Laika Entertainment | Shout! Factory
  • Director: Graham Annable | Anthony Stacchi
  • Written By: Irena Brignull (screenplay) | Adam Pava (screenplay) | Alan Snow (novel) | Anthony Stacchi (story adapted by) | Phil Dale (story adapted by)
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Street Date: 28 February 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadta:
    • MaxLL: 410
    • MaxFALL: 197
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: English DVS | Spanish DTS 5.1 | French DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | Spanish | French
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An orphan boy is raised by underground, sewer-dwelling trolls who are now under attack by a villainous exterminator in a Victorian-era town that loves cheese, their class divides, and their children as much as they despise the trolls in this stop-motion animation adaptation of the Alan Snow novel 'Here Be Monsters!'.The Boxtrolls (Limited Edition 4K SteelBook Review)