Kubo and the Two Strings appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a terrific visual presentation.
From start to finish, sharpness looked great. At no time did any softness interfere, so I found a tight, precise image.
The movie lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent as well. No print flaws appeared.
Like most modern films, Strings opted for a mix of orange and teal. These tones appeared well-rendered here.
Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows seemed smooth and concise. Everything about the image looked great.
While not quite as satisfying, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack still managed to fare nicely, with a soundscape that featured music as a lively participant. The score filled out the five channels in a broad, engaging way that used the music well.
Effects didn’t have as much to do, but they still added range to the package. When necessary, the various elements fleshed out the spectrum to give us material that seemed well-placed and that blended smoothly.
Audio quality excelled, with speech that appeared natural and concise. Effects showed nice accuracy and range.
Again, music worked best of all, with clear tones that boasted excellent low-end. Bass response satisfied across the board, as the mix used the LFE channel to nice effect. I liked this track quite a lot.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Travis Knight. He provides a running, screen-specific look at… pretty much everything.
At the start, Knight warns us to enter his chat with low expectations because Kubo represents his first commentary. Don’t believe him, as he handles the assignment like a veteran.
Knight really does touch on just about every topic you’d like to hear, and he does so with wit, detail and insight. We even learn that Laika gives the animators in-house yoga lessons to alleviate muscle issues endemic to the job!
Knight makes this a top-notch commentary. Not a single moment of the movie passes without useful information, so go into this one with high expectations, as it becomes a genuinely great track.
Under Kubo’s Journey, we find six segments that last a total of 28 minutes, 34 seconds: “Introduction” (0:50), “Japanese Inspiration” (5:56), “Mythological Monsters” (9:19), “Braving the Elements” (4:29), “The Redemptive and Healing Power of Music” (5:48) and “Epilogue” (2:12).
Across these, we hear from Knight, costume designer Deborah Cook, art director Alice Bird, production designer Nelson Lowry, consultant/interpreter Taro Goto, producer Arianne Sutner, concept artist Trevor Dalmer, rigging supervisor Oliver Jones, lead model builder Raul Martinez, animation riggers Brian Elliott and Jerry Svoboda, animation supervisor Brad Schiff, animator Charles Greenfield, lighting/camera lead Dean Holmes, VFX supervisor Steve Emerson, director of rapid prototyping Brian McLean, lead FX artist David Horsley, composer Dario Marianelli, music editor James Bellamy, musician Hibiki Ichikawa, and actors Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei, Art Parkinson and Charlize Theron.
“Journey” looks at Japanese influences, costumes/sets, creature design and creation, animation and effects, and music. This doesn’t become an especially deep dive into the production, but it comes with enough good material to sustain it.
Corners of the Earth fills three minutes, 12 seconds and features Knight, Bird, Dalmer, Lowry, Emerson, and head of shop Darcy Nelson. “Earth” examines the design and creation of the film’s sets. It’s a short but informative clip.
Finally, The Myth of Kubo spans two minutes, 33 seconds and brings notes from Knight, Sutner, Theron, writer Chris Butler, and actor Matthew McConaughey. “Myth” examines the scope/scale of the film, but it largely feels promotional.
The disc opens with ads for Secret Life of Pets, Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon and Phantom Boy. Previews adds promos for ParaNorman, BoxTrolls, Coraline, The Young Messiah and Ratchet and Clank. No trailer for Strings appears here.
Despite some fantastic elements and gorgeous animation, Kubo and the Two Strings presents a fairly standard mix of “hero’s journey” and “coming of age” tales. For the most part, it entertains, but it seems a little on the inconsistent side. The Blu-ray brings excellent picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by an impressive commentary. I like Strings but don’t love it.