While it’s stocked with the voice talents of A-listers like Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, and Charlize Theron, Kubo is set to be a truly unique addition to the animation landscape when it drops, offering a different kind of fantasy world to play in than your average animated feature.
The plot follows the story of young Kubo, a “clever, kindhearted” boy (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) who makes a living telling wild stories in his seaside village. However, he’s got some secrets up his sleeve thanks to his magical shamisan, and he’s soon thrown into a world of mythical spirits and adventure when a remnant of his past “storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.”
The storyline is definitely original, but what really makes this movie so intriguing is the latest evolution of Laika’s brilliant mix of advanced puppetry and physical effects infused with modern CGI, creating an aesthetic that’s unlike just about anything else in animation. The studio uses 3D-printed faces on its puppets to better mold facial expressions, and the real-life landscapes in which the adventures take place are supplemented with CGI to create a dazzling effect.
Laika has had critical successes with each of its first three films — most notably Coraline, directed by Henry Selik of The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, if the first few looks at Kubo tease what’s ahead, this film may just be the one that truly breaks through for the up-and-comer, which needs all the help it can get to compete with the likes of Disney Pixar, DreamWorks, and others.
You can get a better idea about how Laika creates its stop-motion animation tales in the video below.
Kubo and the Two Strings is slated for release this summer on August 19.