The Box Trolls – A Short Review.

A quick disclaimer. This post may contain spoilers.

A Warm Hearted Animated Film.

We took my daughter and five of her friends to see this film as her birthday treat. I would consider any children’s film which manages to hold the attention of six 7 and 8 year old children for an hour and a half to be a success, and The Box Trolls definitely met that criteria. And as a bonus it was good enough that my wife and I both enjoyed it too.

The film is a stop-frame animation, though I suspect there may have been some CGI post processing. But there is a lovely section right at the end of the film where two characters are standing talking, and one of the animators begins to be ghosted into the shot as the camera pulls out. This allows you to see both the characters and the set that they are being filmed in, but also the painstaking work of the animators. The speech that one of the characters gives about someone moving his arm in tiny movements is both amusing and full of pathos.

The Story.

The story takes its sensibilities very much from fairy tale type stories. A child has been taken, and is presumed to have been killed by the subterranean Box Trolls of the title. We are given reassurance that the child is safe, and is being raised by the Box Trolls. The child grows up, becomes known as Eggs (from the name written on his box).

Then an exterminator, a social climber who longs to join a Guild devoted to the love of cheese, takes advantage of a public outcry to obtain the commission to rid the town of the Box Trolls once and for all. The Box Trolls, peaceful and kind by nature are no match for Snatcher and his unpleasant crew, and their numbers dwindle rapidly. Eggs decides that they must fight to save themselves.

In this fight it is revealed how Eggs ended up being raised by the Box Trolls, and just how wicked Snatcher can be.

As is befitting for a children’s story, the good triumph, and the bad are vanquished, and those who were uncomfortable with their involvement are given the chance of redemption.

Final Thoughts.

A great film for children that parents can enjoy too. My only complaint is that I found myself trying to identify one of the actors from their voice for almost the whole film. It was a relief when the credits came round and I was able to identify Richard Ayoade.

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2013 Book Report 12: They Do It With Mirrors – Agatha Christie.

Another Agatha Christie ‘who dunnit’ that I read immediately after reading the Poirot reviewed below. This time the central protaganist is that other staple of Christie’s work, Miss Marple.

Miss Marple’s character bears a striking resemblance to TV Columbo. She bumbles around gathering information which she then weaves together into a conclusion. Like Columbo, a large part of the pleasure of the process is seeing how the answer is constructed. Unlike Columbo, you don’t get to find out at the beginning of the story just who the guilty party is.

As with ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, the story is complex, but well managed, and the bits and pieces of the story are meted out at a pace which keeps you interested, without ever being overwhelming.

My only caveat is that I wouldn’t read two Agatha Christie’s back to back again.

2013 Book Report 11: The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie.

Like PG. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie is a writer whose works have endured. It is impossible to be part of the Western culture and not be immersed in her works. The multiple incarnations of Miss Marple and Poirot and the cliche about the butler having ‘done it’ are written into the DNA of our culture.

This, like the PG Wodehouse stories before it, is the first time I have read Agatha Christie. Once again, as with Wodehouse, the language is of its time and its stilted feel sometimes gets in the way, but the quality of the story telling still bursts through.

The story concerns the wife and mother at the centre of a family who, having been widowed has remarried. She is murdered by being poisoned, with, it transpires, strychnine. In classic ‘who dunnit’ form, there are several likely candidates of murderer, and it is up to Poirot to unpick the clues and red herrings.  The process and the narrative is handled with aplomb by Christie.

I won’t try and write a description of the story. It is worth the investment of your time to read it, and even more so, the investment of your money (it is available for a tiny sum on a Kindle). This book stood the test of time, to my mind, far better than the PG Wodehouse. May be the language is less stilted, or, may be the fact that one is a comedy, and comedy relies more on a fleet footed handling of the words. Anyway, an enjoyable read, and I plan to read many more Agatha Christie’s in future.

Note: I edited this entry as I noticed when refreshing my memory regarding plots that I got the plot of this book confused with the one that I read straight away afterwards. Always a danger when you read two or more very similar books one after the other, and then wait a couple of months to blog about the experience!

2013 Book Report 10: The Man With Two Left Feet and Other Stories – PG Wodehouse.

A confession: I had never read any PG Wodehouse before this book. In fact, I didn’t even watch the much praised TV series starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. I was, essentially a noob, a novice, a PG Wodehouse virgin.

It is possible that this wasn’t a good book to start my journey with, there may be far better in the canon, but I did enjoy this one enormously.

It is a series of short stories, one of which features PG Wodehouse’s most famous comic creations, Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. But the other stories are all stand alone pieces.

I enjoyed these stories. They are fluffy confections, whimsical and funny enough to raise a smile, though not, for me at least, to make me laugh out loud. Obviously the stories are dated, as is some of the language, but they have stood the test of time. And one advantage of reading books like this on a Kindle is that you can look up the obscure and archaic words simply by placing your cursor over them.

I won’t be rushing out to stock up on PG Wodehouse, but I won’t be averse to reading more in the future.