Laika Studios, the new Pixar. I’m serious.
Laika, the company behind the stop-motion Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls, has done it again. Their films are as original and expertly-crafted as Pixar’s, but with human leads, and it should come as no surprise that Kubo and the Two Strings is another Laika masterpiece.
It revolves around young Kubo, whose eye was taken a time ago by the Moon King. Kubo’s mother protected him, hiding him away from the world at night. But one evening, Kubo doesn’t come home in time, and his mother’s evil sisters descend upon him. Just as he thinks he’s done for, his mother finds him and uses the last bits of her magic to whisk him away from harm.
When Kubo wakes, he finds himself in the company of Monkey (Charlize Theron), formerly a wooden token of his. They stumble upon Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), and it’s then their real adventure begins. You see, Kubo’s father was searching for
the Deathly Hallows a mystical set of armor, and Kubo knows that finding it is the key to defeating the Moon King. Twists abound, and the film comes off as a classic fairy tale.
It’s not about the story, though, not entirely. The real magic of this film comes from the animation. Using state-of-the-art CG and stop-motion, Laika has improved on itself yet again. The visuals in this film are some of the most striking in all of cinema, divinely beautiful in a way that only animated films can be. And not only that; the character models are so detailed and so realistically animated that you genuinely believe you can touch them.
Just watching it, I could not help but marvel at the film’s undeniable majesty, its unprecedented scope and intimacy. It takes a great deal more effort to make a stop-motion film than any other cinematic experience, so to think that these filmmakers still craft a film frame-by-frame using models on a set… it’s beyond my concept of dedication.
This is the kind of art that you should support unconditionally. I’d say a film like this comes along every decade, but Laika Studios churns one out almost every year. It’s amazing, all of it. This film is the year’s best example of movie magic.
Kubo and the Two Strings is in theaters now.