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Kubo and the Two Strings (Limited Edition 4K SteelBook Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

To fight off a malevolent spirit a young boy must go on an adventure to find a magical suit of armor once owned by his powerful samurai father.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Kubo and the Two Strings is another magical stop-motion animated film from LAIKA Studios. Directed by Travis Knight, this one takes us to a fantastical ancient Japan and follows the young Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson).

Kubo ekes out a living as street performer entertaining the people of his village with his ability to tell tall tales and manipulate his paper puppets and he lives alone with his protective mother (voiced by Charlize Theron). Kubo’s world is shattered when he breaks his mother’s rule of never staying out past dark and he ends up summoning forces out to get him to fulfill an ancient vendetta. His mother sacrifices herself to save him and Kubo must go on the run, but not alone. In one last effort to save her son, Kubo’s mother used her magic to bring to life his monkey charm (voiced by Charlize Theron). He also finds himself accompanied by the friendly and clumsy Beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) as he tries to uncover the mystery of his father, supposedly the greatest samurai that ever lived, while staying on the run from the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and two evil twin sisters (voiced by Rooney Mara). Along his journey, Kubo must learn to to wield his magical stringed instrument to protect himself and his loved ones against those seeking to harm him.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a wonderfully realized film that takes the coming-of-age trope and thrusts it into a fantastical world, so it feels at once familiar and like a new fairytale. Kubo as a character is very sympathetic as an orphan, as a boy searching for answers about his past, and generally as a kid trying to find his voice. The voice cast starting from Parkinson and all the way through the A-list cast of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Ralph Fiennes is superb in this film. Put together with the miraculous work of the puppeteers at LAIKA and the oversight of Travis Knight, this is a film that has wide appeal to audiences of all sorts from kids to adults, enthusiasts to cinephiles.

  • Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
  • Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
  • Kubo and the Two Strings 4K Ultra HD SteelBook (Shout! Factory)
  • Kubo and the Two Strings 4K Ultra HD SteelBook (Shout! Factory)

The Video

Kubo and the Two Strings has been remastered in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and brought to disc in a 2.40:1 HEVC 2160p encodement. The previous LAIKA Studios Blu-ray from Shout! Factory looked gorgeous and this 4K Ultra HD disc continues that. There is little to complain about, although I did see some slight aliasing around the edges of the rocky cliffs in the early part of the film. Outside of that, this is a nearly flawless release with an expanded palette and dynamic range. The HDR10 metadata shows a MaxLL of 4057 nits and a MaxFALL of 321 nits, so there is a definite bump in overall brightness and specular highlight ‘pop’ in the image. One csn see this in the electric blue light that shoots from the strings and the shock of golden light from the magical armor.

The Audio

A new English Dolby Atmos mix is provided for Kubo and the Two Strings on 4K Ultra HD. The mix is subtler than some of the other LAIKA mixes, but it is still good. The balance is wonderful, and sounds are natural. The overheads carry a good amount of atmospherics, but there is some more discrete use of them in specific scenes such as during the cave in where a subtle effect of rocks falling from overhead can be heard.

The Supplements

This 4K release of Kubo and the Two Strings comes with the previously released LAIKA Edition Blu-ray with all the same Bonus features.

  • Blu-ray Disc with feature film and previously released bonus features
  • Commentary with director/producer Travis Knight
  • Inside LAIKA: Confronting the Epic Challenges of Kubo and the Two Strings (1080p; 00:13:37)
  • Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team (1080p):
    • Little Hanzo (00:01:53)
    • Monkey (00:02:01)
    • The Sisters (00:01:45)
    • Beetle (00:01:46)
    • Moon King (00:02:04)
    • Mother (00:02:12)
    • Kubo (00:01:59)
  • Feature-Length Storyboards
  • Kubo’s Journey (1080p; 00:28:26)
  • Corners of the Earth (1080p; 00:03:06)
  • The Myth of Kubo (1080p; 00:02:32)
  • Still Galleries (1080p):
    • Character Art
    • Concept Art
    • Behind the Scenes
  • Trailer (1080p)

The Final Assessment

A splendid and magical film from LAIKA Studios gets an eye-popping upgrade on 4K Ultra HD from Shout! Factory, continuing the reference-level quality of all the LAIKA films on home video to date.


Kubo and the Two Strings Limited Edition 4K SteelBook is out February 28, 2023, from Shout! Factory.


  • Rating Certificate: PG (for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril)
  • Studios & Distributors: Focus Features | Laika Entertainment | Shout! Factory
  • Director: Travis Knight
  • Written By: Marc Haimes (screenplay by) | Chris Butler (screenplay by) | Shannon Tindle (story by)
  • Run Time: 102 Mins.
  • Street Date: 28 February 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 4057 nits
    • MaxFALL: 321 nits
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos
  • Secondary Audio: English DVS | Spanish DTS 5.1 | French DTS 5.1 | Japanese DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | Spanish | french
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To fight off a malevolent spirit a young boy must go on an adventure to find a magical suit of armor once owned by his powerful samurai father.Kubo and the Two Strings (Limited Edition 4K SteelBook Review)