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Theatrical animated releases have evolved since their early years in the cinema. What started out as intermission filler accompanying news reels, grew to full-length features of fairy tales of classics. Innovative techniques such as rotoscoping, claymation and stop-motion animation gave birth to fare which mature audience members could marvel at as an artistic innovation disguised as light-hearted children’s entertainment. Soon, this genre, thought immature by the masses, grew into a market which has become beloved by one and all as cinematic achievement.

The digital age brought forth computer animation studios dedicated to crafting tales which span the age gap, driving droves of parents and children alike to theaters to gasp at worlds and stories that live-action could not fully create. But like so many feats, over-saturation led to cookie-cutter flicks designed to keep the little ones busy for the afternoon, while selling a toy or two in the process. Separating the wheat from the chaff, however, is not always a difficult task. Sometimes all it takes is to see the needle in the haystack which shines the brightest. The new stop-motion feature Kubo and the Two Strings certainly displays an effort towards that goal.

Delving back to a simpler, albeit more painstaking, time in animation, Laika Entertainment has more than proven their brilliance with Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls in terms of sharp production and unique story choices. Their latest, Kubo and the Two Strings, looks to bring more of that wonder to the big screen. Set in ancient Japan, a young boy named Kubo is sent on a quest to find a magical suit of armor. Once worn by his Samurai father, Kubo must use armor to defeat an evil entity bent on continuing a vendetta started ages ago.

Directed by first timer Travis Knight and starring Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew McConaughey, Kubo and the Two Strings seems to ride that clever line between sharp visual storytelling and the clout of Hollywood star power.

A wonder to watch, even if only in trailer snippets, Kubo and the Two Strings boasts a feast for the eyes. The unusual plot coupled with breath taking animation gives this picture a definite leg up on the typical factory features produced every month as a quick money-maker. Kubo gets its American release on August 19, 2015, and will see release in the U.K. on September 9. For international release

Which leaves me asking, will the final product be as scintillating as the preview? Add to the discussion in the comments section.

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