Jeri Jacquin

Coming on 4K Ultra HD and Bluray (and limited SteelBook Editions) from Shout! Factory are two of the most beloved films from Laika Studios with KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS and THE BOXTROLLS.

In 2014, directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi brought the stop-motion animated story of the small Victorian town of Cheesebridge, Norvenia. As with all towns, there are rumors and in this particular town, underneath are trolls who kidnap babies! Leader Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and his White Hats have better things to do with his cheese eating time and hires Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to find and get rid of the named Boxtrolls.

What they don’t understand is that Boxtrolls are actually very peaceful creatures who wear boxes and like to invent things. Someone who understands this is Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), a human boy who lives with the Boxtrolls and raised by Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). Trying to keep Eggs safe and away from harm, there comes the day when Eggs realizes that his family is being taken one by one!

When Fish is taken, Eggs goes above ground and is seen by Winnie (Elle Fanning) during a fair that is held to remember the disappearance of a certain Trubshaw Baby. The town believes the Boxtrolls are responsible. Winnie decides to help Eggs and in trying to rescue Fish, they discover something truly horrible about the leaders of their town and uncover those responsible!

Other cast include Steve Blum as Shoe and Sparky, Toni Collette as Lady Cynthia Portley-Rind, Nick Frost as Mr. Trout, Richard Ayoade as Mr. Pickles, Tracy Morgan as Mr. Gristle, Toni Collette as Lady Cynthia Portley-Rind and Simon Pegg as Herbert Trubshaw.

Special Features: Inside LAIKA – Discovering the Characters of The Boxtrolls with Never-Before-Seen Test Footage. Inside LAIKA – Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team. Feature-Length Storyboards, Foreword by Ramin Zahed, the Editor in Chief of Animation Magazine, Audio Commentary with Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, The Making of The Boxtrolls and Original Featurettes.

The year 2016 brought one of the most beautiful Laika stories ever and our family’s personal favorite. Director Travis Knight brought the most amazing KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS to fans who instantly fell in love.

Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a young boy growing up in feudal Japan with his ill mother. They live in a cave near the local village and Kubo earns money by performing with origami while he plays his shamisen for the villagers. His most daring story is that of his samurai warrior father Hanzo. He always leaves the audience in suspense because, in reality, he does not know how the story ends.

Being told by his mother to never stay out after dark, Kubo knows the story of how he lost his eye to his mother’s sisters and grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes). They are looking for Kubo and will take him away if they get the chance. During the Bon festival, Kubo attends to speak to those who have passed but realizes quickly that it is sunset. Almost immediately he is attacked by The Sister (Rooney Mara) but his mother tells the boy to go find his father’s armor and then uses magic sending Kubo away.

When Kubo comes too, he is looking into the eyes of his wooden snow monkey charm in real life! Monkey (Charlize Theron) tells him the sad news of home but Kubo makes a oragami Little Hanzo to lead them to the mysterious armor. Along the way they meet Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a bumbling protector who doesn’t remember much about who he is or how he came to be. The one thing he does believe is that he had to be Hanzo’s apprentice!

On their adventure to retrieve the amor and the Sword Unbreakable, Kubo knows he must return home and set things right for his mother, the village and the father he never knew. That means taking on the last siter and his grandfather, the Moon King.

Other cast include Brenda Vaccaro as Kameyo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Hashi and George Takei as Hosato.

Special Features: Feature-Length Storyboards, Inside LAIKA -Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team, Inside LAIKA—Confronting the Epic Challenges of Kubo and the Two Strings, Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Travis Knight, “Kubo’s Journey” and

Original Featurettes.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS was one of the first films my granddaughter watched and I knew immediately that she would love them all, and she does. Kubo is the story of a young man who could have easily just given way to all the sadness in his life but chose another path instead. What an amazing story to tell and it was very successful.

Parkinson as Kubo is the voice that is so memorable because it is filled with emotion, love, insecurity and a fierceness that comes in handy at the end of his journey. Theron as Monkey is wise and patient, well, most of the time but is absolutely wonderful. McConaughey is so delightful as Beetle and very funny. Fiennes as The Moon King is ferocious and focused but he’s never met anyone like Kubo!

SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty and The Beast. Also, their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit

The scrupulous remastering process for both titles was overseen by the team at LAIKA, led by LAIKA CEO (and Kubo and the Two Strings Director) Travis Knight, and Visual Effects Supervisor Steve Emerson, who pored over each film shot-by-shot, paying close attention to every last detail and color to present these groundbreaking films in the most dynamic format.

The use of Dolby Vision has made these films look more spectacular than ever before, with vivid colors and exacting picture quality, and with highlights brighter and essential dark elements darker, unleashing the full potential of HDR technology. The films were also mixed in Dolby Atmos spatial audio, bringing out more details and clarity in the sound, resulting in an even more immersive experience for fans.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS and THE BOXTROLLS are an absolute must have (or don’t talk to me every again) in your own home entertainment library. The stories are so rich and wonderful with message of hope, family, love, courage and triumph. Laika has cornered something wonderful here and I can not wait to see what they do next!

The stop-motion is flawless, smooth and glides along with the story and becomes a subtle character in the film as well. That is how it’s done kids – with excellence and a lot of thought into the process of not just the stop-motion but the story as well making a combination that is unmatched.

Gather the family because I do believe it is time for a Laika marathon because, like a good bucket of popcorn, you can not have just one! Now excuse me, we are preparing for our own marathon! Enjoy the shows!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.