The Boxtrolls – Limited Edition Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

A couple months back, the fine folks over at Shout! Factory began the upgrade movement of the LAIKA films onto the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format with their first two films. Now, its time to complete that movement with their third and fourth as Kubo And The Two Strings and The Boxtrolls make their debut onto the format. As was before, these will feature new transfers and carry over all of the extras from the previous standard Blu-rays that were released by Shout! Factory. Again, there will be an option to pick these up in the collectible limited edition steelbook packaging if you’re wanting something spiffier for these wonderful movies. You can pre-order your copy now using the paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of the review. The Boxtrolls and Kubo And The Two Strings will be available on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on February 28th. For this review, we’ll take a look at The Boxtrolls.


Originally published 8/26/2021

Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), an orphan, lives with the Boxtrolls — a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who inhabit a cavern beneath the city of Cheesebridge. When villainous Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) hatches a plan to get rid of the pretty harmless beings, Eggs decides to go above ground, where he meets and befriends feisty Winnifred (Elle Fanning). Together, Eggs and Winnifred devise a daring plan to save the Boxtrolls from extermination.

Following up two instant classics and marvels of animation in Coraline and ParaNorman is a pretty darn impossible task. And while The Boxtrolls can’t quite get up to those, it still stands tall over most animated films of its era. From an animation perspective, LAIKA enters some new territory and continues down a rather impressive path with much more detail, a different look to things and more challenging sequences and characters to breathe life into their 3rd film.

What I appreciate with The Boxtrolls and LAIKA here is that while I wouldn’t call the film a horror film, they truly embrace a very old English, gothic horror angle in this film. And this continues on is such a vein as they established in their original two film. There’s a very steampunk, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Hammer-esque vibe to contribute to the look, character, creations and flavor that goes along with The Boxtrolls from open to close.

The Boxtrolls is a fun fairytale-esque film with a haunting, gothic aesthetic to give it a wonderful little spark. Its a good time for those invested in certain genres, as well as one that will delight and possibly spook the little ones in some areas. Its got a very British heft to it, which can be a bit of a benefit to many viewers who dig that kind of sheen. LAIKA flies high, even if this one doesn’t land quite as tall as its previous two efforts.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: The Boxtrolls arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a nice step up from its Blu-ray counterpart. The image is bit more sharp and refined with better color saturation to go around. I’m not sure if this a massive leap, but its a noticeable one where things are more polished on the 4K disc, looking the best it ever has.

Depth:  Depth of field is strong with a good sense of space and three dimensional appeal to the image. Motion is smooth in the stop motion kind of way with no issues caused from blur or jitter as a result of rapid character or camera movement.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep, natural but also a little bit inky to boot. Information is readily available in the darkest of corners with ease and no pattern, texture or detail is eaten up by shadows or dark surfaces. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are a bit more refined here and it has a neat consistent palette on display. Its well saturated and showcases everything in a painted porcelain kind of fashion. There are lights in the darkness, flames and more that get a nice HDR glow in scenes contrasted with darkness.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Video Services, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Shout! Factory has also upgraded the sound here on The Boxtrolls, bumping it to Atmos. This opens up so much more in this mix, with a more airy, spacious and natural appeal here. Many sequences are even more heightened with accentuations coming with good balance to go with the layering and depth on display.

Height: There is plenty to take in and lookout above for in the film. Many of the underground sequences feature falling debris or just light living noises. Everything that travels overhead, be it something flying or shooting above or a character merely stepping over camera is capture wonderfully.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer plays wells with crashes, stomps, roaring fires and more with a nice sufficient force. Music also sees its horns and strings with a nice, warm hum coming from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a pretty niftily plotted out mix here that shines in making every area an event (though not in some distracting way, but a lived in one). The mine shaft/cavernous scenes have a lot of little neat things going on in the rear and side channels to create nice ambiance. Rolling sound travel comes with good power and push.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


The Boxtrolls – Limited Edition Steelbook is a 2-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition previously released by Shout! Factory as well as a collectible steelbook packaging. Also included is an insert booklet. All extras are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • With Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi

Inside LAIKA: Discovering the Characters of The Boxtrolls (HD, 9:33) – This featurette discusses all the different characters in the film, having some of the most they’ve ever done and how they went about making them differentiate and have little nooks and crannys. Features a lot of concept art, previsualization, early demo videos and such.

Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team – The team brings out some of the old puppets from the film and reflects and motions them around a bit.

  • Mr. Pickles & Mr. Troul (HD, 1:37)
  • Lord Portley-Rind (HD, 1:13)
  • Archibald Snatcher (HD, 1:52) 
  • Winnie (HD, 1:21)
  • Fish & Shoe (HD, 1:59)
  • Eggs (HD, 1:23)

Feature-Length Storyboards (HD, 1:36:06) 

Dare to Be Square: Behind the Scenes of The Boxtrolls (HD, 33:17) 

The Nature of Creation (HD, 2:54) 

Trolls Right Off the Tongue (HD, 2:47) 

Allergic to Easy (HD, 2:58)

Let’s Dance (HD, 1:57) 

On the Shoulders of Giants (HD, 2:29) 

Still Galleries (HD) – Character Art, Concept Art, Behind the Scenes

Trailer (HD, 2:37)


The Boxtrolls is certainly doesn’t quite hit the highs of some of the other Laika films, but it manages to stand out and be better than many of its other studios’ contemporary films. Shout! Factory returns to fully upgrade their previous release with terrific 4K video and Atmos audio. The extras all carry over from last time and the collectible steelbook packaging has some pretty cool art to it. Fans will certainly want to upgrade when the time is right for them.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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