Laika’s Oscar and Annie Awards Best Animated
Feature nominee pops up on store shelves this week—just the thing to enjoy with a
fine selection of cheese. Or maybe not.
As a rule, some perfectly fine animated features are not necessarily as rewatchable
as others. The Boxtrolls is one of the great exceptions. It is enhanced by its home screen presentation. Bringing these characters
into the home, on a smaller—albeit large flat screen—brings out the intimacy as
well as the artistic scope. And details are among the chief alluring properties
of stop-motion, so Blu-ray is ideal for it.
To those who have not become acquainted with the making of The Boxtrolls, the numerous special
features provide fascinating looks at the various elements—most notably, that The Boxtrolls isn’t purely stop-motion,
but a hybrid of animation processes, that run the gamut from “old school”
puppet manipulation (for the Trubshaw character, voiced by Simon Pegg); live
action reference (ballroom dance); pencil-to-paper 2-D animation (to be
converted into the designs for replacement faces), CG (to, among other things,
add characters and materials to scenes); and 3-D printing (to create the
physical replacement faces).
The special effects, which were created to be as practical as possible–including
using lighted cheesecloth for the fire chamber, playing the footage on a tablet
and placing the tablet inside the mechanism)–are described in detail.
There is roughly an hour of bonus video material, either in short promo
format or 6-12 minute segments. Even the boxes are explained (they’re much more
heavy and solid than they look), as well as the exhaustive costumes and set
Best of all, there’s a densely packed audio commentary by directors
Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi. They don’t answer their cell phones or
munch on snacks and sandwiches (which I’ve heard on a few commentaries). They
instead, having prepared, explain techniques in each scene and credit as many
people as they can as they go. Commentaries are becoming rare in DVD and
Blu-rays of major releases, so this is a welcome treat.
It’s Eggs-actly the way it should be – and I highly recommend you add this to your collection.