With Shout! Studios being given the rights to Laika Studios’ catalogue, they’ve been releasing almost all of their acclaimed award winning films with some new features. If you’ve been a fan of Laika over the years as I’ve been, it’s not surprising that they’ve risen in the ranks alongside PIXAR and Disney as one of the best of their ilk. Probably their best yet is “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a wonderful mixture of mythology, folklore, horror, action, and adventure along with their amazing animation.
Young Kubo’s peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to unlock a secret legacy. Armed with a magical instrument, Kubo must battle the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.
Travis Knight’s animated epic is brilliant and often times a fantastic celebration of Asian mythology. Knight flawlessly conjures up the likes of Harryhausen with the classic hero’s journey tale. This time though the quest is so much more, centering around the idea of grief, family, and learning how to overcome the demons of the past. Kubo is a wonderful hero we almost immediately root for, especially as he’s forced to do battle with some of the creepiest villains created in a Laika film yet. The Sisters (voiced beautifully by Rooney Mara), with their ruthlessness and horrific Nomi masks inject clear cut horror and genuine tension in Kubo’s journey.
They add that extra tinge of adult edge in many instances that thankfully doesn’t hinder the film’s sense of awe. Along with the great cast including Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and Charlize Theron, respectively, “Kubo and the Two Strings” has yet to be topped by Laika Studios, for me. I wish we had more films like this out there.
The Shout! Factory released Kubo and the Two Strings come with a DVD copy of the film and an insert booklet. There’s an Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Travis Knight, and the thirteen minutes Inside LAIKA: Confronting the Epic Challenges of Kubo and the Two Strings, a great little piece showcasing how they continue to push what the LAIKA studio can do. Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team is a multi-chapter exploration of the film’s animation, bringing out some of the old puppets from the film and reflects and motions them around a bit. There are various chapters based around Little Hanzo, Monkey, The Sisters, Beetle, Moon King, Mother, and finally Kubo. There are Feature Length Storyboards, the twenty eight minutes Kubo’s Journey, the three minutes Corners of the Earth, the two minutes The Myth of Kubo, and Still Galleries. These include Character Art, Concept Art, and Behind The Scenes. Finally there’s the original trailer.