I am excited to discuss one of the most innovative animated films of recent years: Kubo and the Two Strings. Directed by Travis Knight, this film is a masterpiece of stop-motion animation that defies expectations and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the genre.
I love stop-motion animation
Stop-motion animation has a long and storied history in cinema, dating back to the early days of filmmaking. From the work of pioneers like Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen to modern masters like Tim Burton and Henry Selick, stop-motion has remained a vital and beloved form of animation for over a century. But despite its longevity, stop-motion has often been seen as a niche genre, overshadowed by the more mainstream appeal of traditional 2D and 3D animation.
Kubo and the Two Strings challenges that perception with its breathtaking visuals, compelling story, and expert craftsmanship. From the opening moments, the film immerses us in a world of wonder and magic, where a young boy named Kubo must navigate a dangerous and mysterious quest to unlock the secrets of his past and save his family from a vengeful spirit.
Real worlds defined by real animation
At the heart of Kubo’s appeal is its use of stop-motion animation, which imbues every frame with a sense of weight and texture that is simply impossible to replicate in any other medium. The attention to detail in the film’s puppets and sets is truly staggering, from the intricate designs of Kubo’s origami creatures to the lush landscapes and haunting underworlds that he must traverse.
But what truly sets Kubo apart from other stop-motion films is its willingness to take risks and experiment with the medium. The film seamlessly blends traditional stop-motion techniques with cutting-edge technology, using 3D printing and computer-generated effects to enhance the film’s visuals and create a sense of depth and scale that is truly awe-inspiring.
The appeal of Kubo and the Two Strings
This bold approach to stop-motion animation has garnered Kubo and the Two Strings widespread critical acclaim, earning multiple Oscar nominations and cementing its place as a modern classic of the genre. But it has also sparked controversy among some fans of modern animation films, who argue that the film’s reliance on practical effects and traditional techniques is outdated and limiting.
To these critics, I would argue that Kubo and the Two Strings represents a bold and refreshing departure from the slick, polished look of many modern animated films. By embracing the tactile, hand-crafted feel of stop-motion, the film taps into a sense of nostalgia and wonder that is all too rare in today’s fast-paced, digital world.
Moreover, the film’s use of stop-motion animation is not merely a stylistic choice, but an integral part of its storytelling. The medium allows for a level of intimacy and emotional resonance that is difficult to achieve with other forms of animation. The subtle movements and expressions of the puppets convey a depth of feeling and nuance that is truly remarkable, and the film’s climactic battle sequences are all the more thrilling for their tactile, visceral quality.
Final thoughts on Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings is a triumph of stop-motion animation that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the genre. Its stunning visuals, compelling story, and expert craftsmanship make it a true masterpiece of modern cinema, and its bold and innovative approach to stop-motion animation is sure to inspire and delight audiences for years to come. While some may view the film’s reliance on practical effects as limiting or outdated, I believe that it is precisely this commitment to tradition and craft that makes Kubo so special and so memorable. For anyone who loves animation, storytelling, or just the magic of the movies, Kubo and the Two Strings is an absolute must-see.
Shout Factory has done Laika well on these Steelbook 4K UHDs
Kubo and the Two Strings and The Boxtrolls represent the second wave of these Laika Steelbook 4K UHD releases and they are killer. For those that haven’t picked up the films on prior releases, you’ll want to grab these. But, what about for those making the upgrade or wanting to double dip? The 2160p 4K restoration and Atmos track is brand new. Hell, I don’t remember the film sounding this great in theaters.
The 4K UHD steelbook special features range from a new Dolby Atmos 7.1 mix, but all of the special features are historical ports from prior releases. Kubo and the Two Strings continues to be one of those epic animation highpoints of the last decade. Shout and Laika have a really winner on their hands with this 4K UHD release.