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Kubo and the Two Strings

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    93
    from 4 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Kubo is a deeply moving animated classic, celebrated for its storytelling, visuals, and detailed 4K/3D presentations.

    Kubo and the Two Strings 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    95
  • Kubo's 4K UHD release from Shout Factory enhances visual fidelity with vibrant HDR, sharper details, and rich colors in a top-notch presentation, making it the best version yet.

  • Audio
    92
  • The Dolby Atmos release boasts a vibrant, immersive sound experience with top-notch 24-bit encoding, enhancing action with depth and a rich score, complete with diverse language tracks and subtitles.

  • Extra
    91
  • The Kubo and the Two Strings Limited Edition Steelbook features exhaustive behind-the-scenes content, including audio commentary, featurettes on LAIKA's challenges, character animation insights, storyboards, and retrospectives, all packed in collectible packaging.

  • Movie
    96
  • Kubo and the Two Strings dazzles with its masterful stop-motion animation, heartfelt storytelling, and epic adventure, showcasing Laika's pinnacle in animation and narrative brilliance.

    Video: 95

    Shout Factory's release of "Kubo and the Two Strings" on 4K UHD Blu-ray employs an HEVC / H.265 2160p encoding with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. This release takes full advantage of High Dynamic Range technology, offering HDR10 and Dolby Vision options, which significantly enhance the visual experience. Derived from what is described as a "new 4K restoration" notwithstanding its original 2K Digital Intermediate finishing, the presentation suggests a meticulous upscale that retains its artistic integrity while providing a substantial upgrade in visual quality. The vividness of the HDR rendering adds a depth and saturation to the colors that were previously unattainable, illuminating the animated feature’s distinctive art style in ways that surpass previous versions.

    Detail throughout "Kubo and the Two Strings" is represented with impeccable clarity, pushing the visual boundaries far beyond its original HD presentation. Contrasts are strikingly improved, presenting inky blacks and radiant highlights that add a dramatic depth to each scene. Dolby Vision, in particular, amplifies this effect, enabling a wider color gamut that brings to life the film’s varied environments with significant saturation and nuance. Textures in the animation - from skin to fabrics to environmental elements - reveal an incredible amount of detail, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship of LAIKA studios. The presentation manages to capture the essence of both bright and dark themes in the movie, with colors that pop without compromising the intended atmosphere of warm days and cool nights.

    Furthermore, this 4K UHD edition demonstrates a remarkable depth of field and movement clarity, accentuating the unique stop-motion animation style. Black levels are notably improved, allowing for night scenes to shine with newfound clarity and avoiding crushing. Colors across the spectrum - notably reds, blues, and greens - exhibit enhanced saturation and vibrancy that contribute to the film’s visual storytelling. Despite being an upscale from a 2K Digital Intermediate, there are no digital artifacts present, making for a clean and immersive viewing experience. This version of "Kubo and the Two Strings" on 4K UHD Blu-ray by Shout Factory not only honors the film's artistic achievements but elevates them, setting a high standard for home media releases.

    Audio: 92

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Kubo and the Two Strings" boasts an immersive and dynamic Dolby Atmos audio track that elevates the auditory experience to new heights. Building upon a high-resolution Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround sound core, the presentation’s 24-bit encoding exemplifies audio fidelity, ensuring every nuance of sound is captured with pristine clarity. Surround channels are utilized effectively, crafting an active and engaging soundscape that breathes life into action sequences, adding depth and a palpable sense of immersion. The low-frequency effects are notably impressive, with the LFE channel delivering impactful bass that enriches the film’s exhilarating moments, while drums and other low-end sounds provide robust support to the film’s score, composed by Marianelli, whose work is beautifully realized in this mix.

    Beyond its technical prowess, the Atmos track notably enhances spatial dynamics, offering listeners a more expansive soundstage that takes full advantage of additional overhead channels. This expanded space allows for a more nuanced layering of sound effects and musical scores, creating a more natural and enveloping environment. Creature roars, magical beams, and environmental ambiances like roaring waters and stomping footsteps receive a substantial boost, providing auditory cues that are both lifelike and creatively expressive. Moreover, dialogue reproduction remains crisp and clear throughout, ensuring that every word and subtle vocal nuance is easily discernible, thus maintaining the narrative's clarity and emotional impact.

    Furthermore, the release comes equipped with a variety of audio options catering to a global audience, including Spanish, French, and Japanese 5.1 DTS tracks, along with an English Descriptive Video Service track for visually impaired viewers. Subtitle options in English SDH, Spanish, and French are also provided, ensuring accessibility. This variety emphasizes the release's flexibility and thoughtfulness towards providing an inclusive cinematic experience. With its layered sound effects, precise dialogue clarity, and thumping low-end presence, "Kubo and the Two Strings" on 4K UHD Blu-ray not only respects but elevates the auditory component of the film, making it a standout release for audiophiles and casual viewers alike.

    Extra: 91

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray extras for "Kubo and the Two Strings" compile both previously available material and new, exclusive content that enriches viewers' appreciation of the film's technical wizardry and narrative depth. Highlighted by an engaging 2016 audio commentary by director and producer Travis Knight, the extras offer revealing insights into the movie's intricate production processes. In particular, the Inside LAIKA featurettes delve deep into the challenges faced and innovations achieved in character animation and set design, showcasing rare footage and detailed character studies. Further enhancing the package, the disc includes comprehensive feature-length storyboards, Kubo’s Journey in segmented or full-sequence options, and a selection of still galleries that display an abundance of character and concept art. New retrospectives provide additional perspectives on this animated masterpiece, demonstrating LAIKA's continued commitment to pioneering storytelling techniques. Together, these extras not only underscore the substantial creative effort behind "Kubo and the Two Strings" but also serve as a masterclass in animation for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: Insights from director/producer Travis Knight.
    • Inside LAIKA - Confronting the Epic Challenges of Kubo and the Two Strings: Explores LAIKA's innovative work on the film.
    • Inside LAIKA - Character Animation: Detailed featurettes on characters including Little Hanzo, Monkey, The Sisters, Beetle, Moon King, Mother, and Kubo.
    • Feature-Length Storyboards: Extensive storyboarding for the film.
    • Kubo’s Journey: An in-depth look at various aspects of the film's creation, optionally viewed in segments or as a whole.
    • Corners of the Earth: A brief exploration of the film's setting and world-building.
    • The Myth of Kubo: Insights into the storytelling and mythological underpinnings of the film.
    • Still Galleries: Collections of character art, concept art, and behind-the-scenes photos.
    • Trailer: Promotional trailer for the film.

    Movie: 96

    Kubo and the Two Strings," a captivating fantasy-adventure from the renowned studio Laika, transcends the boundaries of stop-motion animation with its rich storytelling and groundbreaking visual artistry. Directed by Travis Knight and boasting a talented cast including Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, and Matthew McConaughey, the film is a narrative and aesthetic triumph that blends Eastern philosophies with cutting-edge animation techniques. Set against a backdrop of feudal Japan, the story follows young Kubo as he embarks on a perilous quest accompanied by his magical two-stringed instrument. With a screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, the film weaves a compelling tale about family, courage, and the quest for identity, distinguished by its imaginative and heartfelt script.

    Central to "Kubo and the Two Strings" is its stunning visual execution. The delicate art of stop-motion animation is taken to new heights, thanks to the meticulous craftsmanship of Laika's artists and the visionary direction of Knight. The film's art direction by Alice Bird and the production design by Nelson Lowry create a lush, immersive world that is both fantastical and eerily tangible. Deborah Cook's costume design adds layers of authenticity and depth to the characters, enriching the film's visual narrative. Meanwhile, Frank Passingham's cinematography captures this enchanted world with a breathtaking scope that accentuates the film's epic journey. Dario Marianelli's evocative score further elevates the cinematic experience, providing an emotional core to Kubo's adventure.

    Laika's blend of traditional folklore with innovative animation has culminated in "Kubo and the Two Strings," a film that not only pushes the technical boundaries of its genre but also offers a deeply moving story that resonates with audiences of all ages. It stands as a testament to the power of storytelling, skillfully combining elements of action, adventure, and drama with a philosophical depth that challenges conventional narratives. "Kubo" solidifies Laika's status as an animation studio that truly masters the art of cinematic storytelling, contributing a significant and unforgettable entry into the world of animated film.

    Total: 93

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Kubo and the Two Strings" elevates an already remarkable animated classic to new heights, bringing out unparalleled vividness and color in its visually striking world. Lauded for its heartfelt storytelling centered around the themes of family and loss, the film's transition to 4K UHD is described as nothing short of reference-worthy. This edition not only enhances the viewing experience through its 2160p 4K UHD HDR visuals but complements it with a dynamic Dolby Atmos soundstage, making it an essential acquisition for aficionados of high-quality home cinema. While the 3D presentation remains a favored option for some, this 4K UHD release offers an exceptional alternative with its crisp and detailed imagery, ensuring that the emotional depth and the intricate beauty of the movie are felt more profoundly.

    The special features packaged with this edition are comprehensive, featuring both returning content and new additions that enrich the understanding and appreciation of the film. Noteworthy is the original audio commentary by director and producer Travis Knight, which provides insightful details about the filmmaking process. The "Inside LAIKA" featurettes offer an in-depth look behind the scenes, including challenges faced during production, character animation insights, and rare footage, guaranteeing enthusiasts a deeper dive into the movie's creation. Additionally, the array of interviews with a wide range of contributors from the production team and cast adds significant value, alongside a generous collection of character and concept art galleries, further celebrating the meticulous artistry behind "Kubo and the Two Strings."

    In conclusion, this 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Kubo and the Two Strings" represents a pinnacle of home media presentation for an animated feature. Its superior video and audio qualities ensure that every frame of the movie's stunning animation and every note of its compelling soundtrack are experienced to their fullest. Coupled with an exhaustive set of special features that provide an extensive behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, this release is highly recommended for both longtime fans and newcomers alike. It stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling through animation and a must-own for those committed to experiencing cinema in its most enchanting and technically refined form.