Once I saw the trailer for Kubo and the Two Strings back in 2016, I was hooked as I loved the look and the fact they were going for a Asian- themed, fantasy-action piece. Shout Factory re-released the film on Blu-ray back in 2021 with slightly better visuals and new special features, but has now released it again in 4K with Kubo and the Two Strings (Limited SteelBook Edition) that features added HDR/Dolby Vision, as well as Dolby Atmos audio to place viewers into this fantasy epic.
Taking place in what looks like feudal Japan, the plot follows a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), who has one eye but doesn’t let that stop him from living life and playing his magical shamisen which has the power to make origami come alive and entertain the local village for money to live off of. Without giving too much of the story away, something terrible happens that causes the evil Moon King to attack their village and forces Kubo and his mom to leave.
It falls on Kubo to go on an epic quest to stop the Moon King and to learn more about his family and his mysterious lineage. As with any good story, he soon meets some friends along the way with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) joining him as they all learn about themselves while also tackling the issues they carry and will need each other to overcome.
Just as Laika did in some of their earlier works such as Coraline and ParaNorman, I love how they confront serious issues like death, sadness, fear and more that both kids and older people can relate to. Doing this is no easy task, but Laika has it down to a science and I think that’s what makes all of their films so beloved by many.
As with the other Laika titles Shout Factory released, the visuals were already great on Blu-ray but are now better in 4K with HDR/Dolby Vision that makes the art and animation come alive like never before. The added Dolby Atmos audio is also fantastic as it’ll have you ducking and dodging behind the couch when the action gets going. There’s also quite a few special features from the Blu-ray release included, starting with “Inside LAIKA” that goes into the challenge of bring the world of Kubo to life, revisiting the puppets they used in the film, and more.
There’s also feature-length storyboards that play along with the film’s audio, an image gallery that shows off a lot of cool concept art, character designs, etc. Then we have audio commentary with director/producer Travis Knight that goes over the production of the film while sharing his thoughts, along with some other bonus featurettes that go even further into the making of the movie and more.
Kubo and the Two Strings (Limited SteelBook Edition) is a great family film that anyone is sure to love as it has a little something for everyone. There’s plenty of humor, action, and tender moments that will play a number on your heartstrings. I’m so glad my wish came true for this 4K release as it really does make this film as well as all of Laika’s library even better.