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Laika pushes stop-motion's limits again with new Kubo and the Two Strings trailer

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Still Kubo's magic shamisen gently weeps

The first footage from Laika Studios’ new stop-motion feature Kubo and the Two Strings started emerging out in 2015, and it was exciting stuff. The studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The BoxTrolls has always been an ambitious innovator in the stop-motion field, but Kubo looks like an attempt to up the ante even further, with even more dramatic camera work, elaborate visuals, and epic-scale storytelling.

The latest trailer for the film focuses on plot and character specifics for the first time, where the teaser and the previous full trailer were more about mood and images. Watching the new one, it's clearer who Kubo is, what kind of journey he's on, and how the monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and beetle-armored samurai (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) from previous teasers are related to his story. It's also clearer than ever that Laika CEO Travis Knight is determined to keep pushing the technological and artistic envelope for stop-motion. Knight is making his directorial debut with this film after serving as lead animator on the studio's three previous features, and his first film looks incredibly ambitious and dramatic, though with a thread of kid-accessible flat-out silly humor.

Kubo And The Two Strings opens August 19, 2016.