After making a stunning entrance with Coraline and continuing its winning streak with beautifully animated hits ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, Laika has finally become established in Hollywood as one of the most exciting animation studios out there today. And today brings terrific news for fans of the studio, with word that Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara and Ralph Fiennes have all signed on to the voice cast of Laika’s next movie, titled Kubo & The Two Strings.
Art Parkinson and Brenda Vaccaro are also in the voice cast, with the former taking on the main role of Kubo. The Annie Award-winning Travis Knight, who did animation work on Coraline and ParaNorman, will make his directorial debut on Kubo, which sounds like Laika’s most ambitious project to date. It’s described as a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.
The film, which draws on Japanese mythology, follows a young boy named Kubo, who ekes out a quiet living in a small, coastal town while caring for his mother. Kubo’s life is turned upside down, however, when an ancient spirit appears, intent on resparking an age-old vendetta and taking revenge on Kubo for his family’s past sins. Forced to flee from all manner of monsters and vengeful gods, Kubo realizes that his only hope for survival lies in the magical armor worn by his slain father, who was once the world’s best samurai. Embarking on a perilous journey, Kubo discovers his past as he fights for his future.
More succinctly, Knight said of the film:
“It’s kind of like it’s as if Stand By Me was set in a Temple Of Doom through the prism of Kurosawa on a bender of bath salts.”
Everyone over at Laika is convinced that this is the studio’s biggest and ballsiest undertaking to date, but initial impressions are very exciting. Laika has yet to put a foot wrong, and it’s hard to see how the studio could mess up delving into the rich Japanese culture to tell a fantastical story of courage and honor. Especially with a cast that now includes more star wattage than Laika has ever before mustered, Kubo & the Two Strings is certainly on my must-see list. Unfortunately, there’s a ways to go before the movie hits theaters – Laika has dated it for August 19th, 2016.