I get irrationally excited over a new Laika film. It’s the same excitement I used to have when Pixar teased a movie (prior to them being acquired by Disney) or still feel when Studio Ghibli releases a film. All three animation studios have displayed the ability to produce wonder.
When Coraline first came out I was cautiously optimistic. A fan of the art produced when Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean combined their creative talents, I wasn’t sure any studio could produce a film that captured both Gaiman’s tone and Mckean’s aesthetic. Laika was well up to the task. Bringing in Henry Selick to direct was a master stroke. Selick had already directed Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach bringing Tim Burton’s and Roald Dahl’s work to life; and understood how to bring a creative vision to the screen.
If all Laika had accomplished with Coraline was to bring the source material to life, it would have made a good if not particularly memorable film. The 3D world Laika created was wonderful, the depth stop-motion animation brought to it made it come to life and then filled it with glorious little details like: the tunnel effects between the real world and the imaginary, the light effects in the garden at the “Other” house, the frenetic energy of the mouse circus, and of course the button eyes. It was the equivalent of seeing the coral reef for the first time in Finding Nemo or the bathhouse in Spirited Away. Managing to do all of that far from the hubbub of Hollywood, out of a small suburb of Portland Oregon, somehow makes it even more glorious.
While not nearly as magical their sophomore effort, ParaNorman, was still visually fascinating and enjoyable. Now comes their new film The Boxtrolls. All the trailers released for it so far have had elements of wonder. And the detail…well the detail is simply astonishing. Check out the new trailer: