Movie Magic

Kubo And The Two Strings: Oscar Win for 3D Printed Animation?

Kubo and the two strings

Early reviews for Kubo and the Two Strings indicate a stop-motion masterpiece. Is this 3D printed animation bound for Oscar glory in 2017?

Don’t Miss: 3D Printed Stop Motion: How To Create the Perfect Faceset

In new animated feature ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’, a young boy named Kubo must find a magical suit of armor worn by his late father to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

The film by LAIKA Studio — which specializes in stop-motion animation using 3D printing — is directed by Travis Knight and boasts a voice cast including Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey, and Rooney Mara.

Thanks to enthusiastic notices from movie critics, the family film is building a strong buzz ahead of its release on 19 August. Can we expect to see ‘Kubo And The Two Strings’ win an Oscar for Best Animated Movie in 2017?   It should secure a nomination at the very least.

None of this is to imply that the *only* reason the animators could win is because they know how to use a 3D printer. Things like screenplay, direction and voice-acting play a bigger part. But it’s wonderful to see how this innovative technology is used to remarkable effect.

LAIKA uses a technique called called “replacement animation,” which involves swapping out limbs and facial expressions on a Mr. Potato Head-like base structure to create the illusion of motion. 3D printers are used to create these various facial expressions and limbs.

See a sample of the finished result in the trailer below:

Critical Raves for Kubo And The Two Strings

Gotta love that monkey. And so do the critics, judging by their gushing praise.

Peter Debruge writing for Variety says: “With its staggering visuals and genuine heart, Laika chief Travis Knight’s fantastical samurai adventure puts the emotion in stop-motion… With such awe-inspiring artistry, designed so as to never distract from the material it serves, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ stands as the sort of film that feels richer with each successive viewing, from the paper-folded Laika logo at the beginning (an early taste of the stunning origami sequences to follow) to the emotional resonance of its final shot.”

“A thoroughly engaging animated adventure,” proclaims Michael Rechtshaffen for The Hollywood Reporter. “Representing a dazzling artistic leap forward for LAIKA, the stop-motion animation studio’s fourth feature — and first full-blown fantasy — is an eye-popping delight that deftly blends colorful folklore with gorgeous, origami-informed visuals to immersive effect.”

The Verge’s Bryan Bishop also loved it: “The movie is a huge swing, and delivers a level of visual wonder and magic that the likes of Pixar or Disney Animation simply can’t match, not even when they push themselves with something like ‘Inside Out.’ Part of it is the nature of stop-motion animation itself; there’s something about the physical reality of frame-by-frame puppeteering that will always create a tactile sense of wonder that can’t be duplicated in any other way.”

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich gave the movie an A-grade and calls it a “stop-motion masterpiece… Kubo” is “staggeringly beautiful and immensely true, the best animated film of 2016 — one of the year’s best films of any kind, really — is a stop-motion fable about a one-eyed boy in mythical Japan that was made by a team of gifted visionaries in an Oregon warehouse.”

Sam Adams of The Wrap also chimes in: “‘Kubo’ outshines virtually everything that the major studios have put into multiplexes this year.” While the movie is not flawless, he quibbles, “there’s real magic in it, and that’s more important, and no less rare, than perfection.”

“It offers a powerful metaphor for the manner in which we carry the memories of our departed inside ourselves,” reckons Oleg Ivanov for Slant Magazine. “Kubo’s music is his greatest weapon in his fight against the powers that tore his family apart, an apt metaphor for the film’s underlying message about art’s ability to provide personal healing while treating larger social wounds.”

Are you excited? We’re excited. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ comes to a movie theater near you on 19 August.

kubo and the two strings