From Laika, the Portland-based studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls is the latest animation film to employ the stop-motion technique.
The technique, which allows physically manipulated objects to appear to move on their own, requires months, if not years of painstaking labour.
It’s been in use since the late 1890s, but more prominently came to use in the mainstream with films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James And The Giant Peach.
Unlike computerised animation, it results in a far more realistic, lifelike finish, making the time and effort needed to put it into use all the more worthwhile.
In the case of The Box-trolls, the film benefits mass-ively from the tech-nique. It’s simply dripping with detail, from the cobble-stoned roads of Cheesetown – the fictional town in which the action takes place – to the designs of the Boxtrolls themselves, each appointed with their own personality.
It’s stunning to behold as every last frame is suffused with care, love and attention. And thankfully, the script is up to scratch, too, and the film is as funny, sweet and charming on the inside as it is on the outside.
There’s no way to tell whether the same quirky, lived-in finish could have been achieved if the film were fully CGI. But what’s clear is that Laika have, with only three features under their belt, become the stop-motion animation studio to beat.
They make worlds that are full of intrigue and characters that are fully fleshed out.
My only hope is that the growing success of stop-motion pushes Aardman to bring Wallace and Gromit out of retirement.