Inspired by Alan Snow's book Here Be Monsters!, the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman have constructed The Boxtrolls. This stop-motion animated adventure follows the journey of a young boy raised among the titular trolls. When his adopted family is threatened, he is forced to come into the human world. Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright and Elle Fanning lend their voices; Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi direct.
Our theatrical review will weigh in on whether or not this new release is worth your time, while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see The Boxtrolls.
Animated adventures are typically peopled with the kind of bright colors and madcap action that plays well in 3D. But Laika's handcrafted worlds and characters offer tons of additional details that could give an enhanced sense of depth in 3D. Add the textures of tattered boxes, cobblestone streets and frilly dresses to frolicking trolls and zippy action sequences, and you have a perfect platform for 3D.
Planning & Effort Score
The Boxtrolls is predominantly made up of painstakingly crafted stop-motion shot on miniature stages. These portions were shot in 3D, allowing to capture a realistic depth of field for the meticulously made sets. Some CG is implanted in the film, and presumably post-converted 3D was used for those elements. However, the blending of the two--both the forms of animation and the brands of 3D--are seamless.
Before the Window Score
This is the element of 3D that is generally regarded as the most gimmicky. It's where things from the movie seem to poke out into the theater. Some scenes where characters--or cheese--are flying right at the screen invite opportunities for this category. But if I'm being honest, any efforts made here are barely noticeable.
Beyond the Window Score
Contrarily, this is the element of 3D that makes the world of the film appear to stretch far beyond the theater's screen. The Boxtrolls makes great use of this element, enhancing the depth of towering mansions, bustling town squares, and cluttered caves, as well as the dizzying heights its heroes climb and occasionally fall. However, to keep the audience focused on the foreground action, often the backgrounds are left out of focus, which considering the intense detail that lurks within them is a bit of a bummer.
Those darned 3D glasses make everything dimmer, so a great 3D print must compensate accordingly. The Boxtrolls does a fine, though not exemplary, job at ratcheting up the brightness. You'll never be squinting to make sense of its action. However, comparing what I saw in the theater to the brightly lit stills that have been released, it's clear the color correct for 3D wasn't entirely effective to maintaining the intended color pallete of the film.
Glasses Off Score
This is an extremely rudimentary test to show in the basest terms how much 3D you're getting on screen. Take the glasses off, and observe the blur, which will reveal the different perspective being manipulated to create the 3D effect. Whether focused tight on the curly haired Winnie in the midst of a withering one-liner, or pulled back wide to show the entirety of a subterranean society, The Boxtrolls is making evident use of 3D.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can be bad for you, causing nausea, headaches, or eyestrain. Shot mainly in 3D, The Boxtrolls makes no missteps that will make you feel sickly, though some of its goofy gags might a bit!
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: Laika Entertainment is a production company that is bringing its own brand of dynamic animation to theaters again and again. Like the construction of the sets and characters in The Boxtrolls, a great deal of care was obviously put into the adventure's use of 3D. While I think the film would be entirely thrilling without the device, the added depth does bring some extra zing to action sequences, and boosts a bit the wondrousness of its enthralling environment.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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