Ever since the release of esteemed director Henry Selick's 2009 feature film Coraline, that film's Portland-based production company, Laika Entertainment, has become something of a force to be reckoned with. Having subsequently developed the equally well received productions of ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, in 2012 and 2014 respectively, the American animation studio has seemingly cornered the market on stop-motion animated fare.
Even as the latter mentioned film failed to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, losing out to the Walt Disney Studios produced Big Hero 6, Laika's gravitas and supremely articulated presence has helped to make sure that another three films would soon be on the way, with the help of distributor Focus Features. The first batch of footage from the upcoming Kubo and the Two Strings is now here to prove it, too.
In the teaser trailer shown above, the film's previously teased, "Sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan," is fully realized in Laika's prototypical blend of stop-motion animation and stunning, computer-generated imagery - promising plenty in the way of mysticism and whimsy. As was previously announced, the film's cast will feature the voices of Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Ralph Fiennes (Spectre), Rooney Mara (Carol), and Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar).
For those curious, here is the full official synopsis for Kubo and the Two Strings, as was co-written by Chris Butler (ParaNorman) and relative newcomer Marc Holmes (with Laika vet Travis Knight directing):
“In the epic fantasy, scruffy, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living while devotedly caring for his mother in their sleepy shoreside village. It is a quiet existence – until a spirit from the past catches up with him to enforce an age-old vendetta. Suddenly on the run from gods and monsters, Kubo’s chance for survival rests on finding the magical suit of armor once worn by his fallen father, the greatest samurai the world has ever known. Summoning courage, Kubo embarks on a thrilling odyssey as he faces his family’s history, navigates the elements, and bravely fights for the earth and the stars.”
Based on the what's been presented so far, Laika appears primed to offer what could be their grandest work yet, with a film whose thematic scope and expansive sense for world-building is as of now unparalleled for the still young film studio. Highlighting their latest work's intention to explore its featured protagonist as he strives to forge his own path in the face of ancestral tradition, Kubo and the Two Strings is promising, both visually and cinematically.
Whether or not Laika's latest will find greater mass appeal than their last effort remains to be seen, though for now there is nothing to suggest that the animation studio doesn't have a clear and well-trained grasp on the material at hand. Until the film's theatrical premiere next summer, viewers will just have to wait and see how this animated samurai adventure pans out.
Kubo and the Two Strings will see theatrical release on August 19th, 2016.
Source: Focus Features
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