|Fig 1. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)|
However, Travis Knight's Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) is one of Laika's most ambitious and beautiful films yet. "'If you must blink, do it now,'...It's a bold way to begin one's film, but then again, the stop-motion geniuses have been crafting their own way since Coraline...Kubo's curiosity soon leads him beyond the realms of safety and his adventure is kicked into a tenser gear even Pixar would struggle to match," (Stolworthy, 2016). It is clear how much hard work and passion was poured into the creation of this film as the movie plays out. The smallest details in the environment's design, small facial changes, the flowing hair and fabric on the characters are all proof of this even before watching any 'behind the scenes' footage. However, it's only when you watch any behind the scenes footage that the amount of innovation and creativity of the studio becomes apparent.
It is uncommon for a studio to go against the grain like Laika has. Through interviews with its various creators and departments it becomes clear how they refuse to be limited to the technology available to them...they will keep pushing on anyway. For example, they used their position in the 3D printing industry to push forward a method of 3D printing that hasn't yet really been done before. In all of their previous films they used coloured 3D printing with resin, while with Kubo, they pushed coloured 3D printing using plastic. They continuously push to solve problems to achieve they look they want rather than shy away from it or settle - as Brain Mclean (Laika's Director of Rapid Prototyping) explains, "We never allow the technology to dictate what we can do...whenever we would see a challenge or whenever we would see a character design... we had a group of really talented artists and technicians and wizards that were willing to accept it and figure it out," (Stop-motion animation goes high tech at Laika, 2016). This determination to persevere through problems and interact with all the different departments to figure out these problems has allowed the studio to create the magically detailed and innovative Kubo.
|Fig 2. 3D Printed Facial Expressions|
It is refreshing to see a studio and a group of people wanting to experiment with new technologies, old techniques, and a combination of the two. Even with the labor-intensive creation process in terms of design, model-building, CGI, animation, post-production, and so on...the film itself is rich in its content including its characters, story and themes. It is clear that Laika did not skimp out on any part of the process, even the voice acting felt spot-on. "The resonance of the performances from its excellent voice cast gives it an immediate emotional punch...Charlize Theron does beautiful voice work as Kubo's no-nonsense protector; she brings deadpan humour as the much-needed voice of reason," (Lemire, 2016). All of the voice actors feel like they fit with their characters perfectly which allows them to feel more real so the audience can connect with them.
|Fig 3. Monkey (Charlize Theron) & Kubo (Art Parkinson)|
Ide, W. (2016) Kubo and the Two Strings review - lyrical stop-motion tale At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/11/kubo-and-two-strings-review Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Lemire, C. (2016) Kubo And The Two Strings At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kubo-and-the-two-strings-2016 Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Pile, J. (2016) Kubo And The Two Strings Review At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/kubo-two-strings/review/ Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Robey, T. (2016) Kubo and the Two Strings is Laika's profound, ravishing riposte to ADHD cartoons - review At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/09/08/kubo-and-the-two-strings-is-laikas-profound-ravishing-riposte-to/ Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Stolworthy, J. (2016) Kubo and the Two Strings, review: 'A marvellous adventure for both adults and children' At: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/kubo-and-the-two-strings-review-laika-studios-pixar-zootropolis-charlize-theron-ralph-fiennes-the-a7234556.html Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Stop-motion animation goes high tech at Laika [YouTube Interview] The Verge (2016) 9 mins At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plXmbLAUTRg Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Figure 1. Kubo and the Two Strings [Poster] At: http://cdn2-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/kubo-and-the-two-strings/29406173_max.jpg Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Figure 2. 3D Printed Facial Expressions [Photo] At: http://www.panoramaaudiovisual.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Kubo-3.jpg Accessed on: 6/4/2017
Figure 3. Monkey (Charlize Theron) & Kubo (Art Parkinson) [Film Still] At: http://assets-jpcust.jwpsrv.com/thumbs/W4nQqrhI.jpg Accessed on: 6/4/2017