In the world of film, animation has played a role on the silver screen since the inception of movies. These days, the genre flourishes with studios like Pixar and DreamWorks producing animated features every year. However, if there is one studio that constantly grasps my attention it would be none other than Laika Entertainment. This animation studio was founded in 2005 and has worked on a number of mediums such as music videos, commercials, and of course movies.
The Stop-Motion Style
However, unlike its peers, Laika is known for a particular style of animation — stop-motion. The concept of stop-motion animation has been around for many years in film. In the early days of films stop-motion would be used as an effect for genre such as fantasy and sci-fi. Eventually, the animation style would be pivotal in creating some of the genre's most cherished features. Laika continues this trend with films likes Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Now, the studio adds another movie to their resume with Kubo and the Two Strings, which arrives in theaters this weekend. As Kubo and the Two Strings arrives, I felt it would be appropriate to reflect on Laika Entertainment and why since 2009 I have adored this animation studio.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that I am fan of stop-motion animation. There has always been something about this format that I have found intriguing. Perhaps it is the mechanics of the whole thing that I have impressive. While seemingly difficult to create, the fact that the animators have to move the figures for every motion is an impressive feat in my book. In any case, this style of animation has always been a favorite of mine as it expresses a unique sense of creativity; and when it comes to Laika, the studio continues to honor this sub-genre in animation.
A Delicate Mix Of CGI And Stop-Motion
While Laika keeps true to the roots of stop-motion animation, the studio has also expanded on this style by incorporating other forms of animation in their movies. Just like what live-action films do with CG effects, the Laika movies have incorporated this idea with their animated features. This was definitely prevalent in movies such as ParaNorman. The film's climax heavily featured an array of effects that led to a cinematic moment that was as thrilling as it was dynamic. The same thing could be said about Kubo and the Two Strings. While it may not as be prevalent as it was in ParaNorman, the new film did use the likes of CG effects, which helped to establish the spectacle behind this animated feature. Laika's ability to blend styles has led to the studio to not just finding their own signature look, but helping to give the genre of animation a new sense of filmmaking.
Laika Builds Immersive Film Worlds
When it comes to the mechanics, Laika movies have certainly been impressive. However, that is not the only thing that has aided in making this studio great. Along with its stellar animation has been the stories that have surrounded Laika's films. While each of the movies have dealt with different subjects and featured various writers, I feel that Laika's films have a shared plot element: their ability to create such engaging worlds. Laika's film worlds are quite immersive, as they are rich with both color and character. While this element is prevalent in all of the Laika's film, this was definitely noticeable in Kubo and the Two Strings. The world that surrounded Kubo felt vast as set pieces could their own story. This not only complimented the adventurous element to the film, but it also showed the lengths that the filmmakers went to when it came to creating the world to this stop-motion feature. This was just the latest example of Laika's distinct sense of storytelling. While their tales have dealt with different subjects (and will continue to do so), I feel that the plots to Laika's movies will always find success thanks to their ability to create worlds enriched in story.
The reasons to enjoy the Laika films are vast and distinct. From the details told in their stories to even elements such as music, I feel there is no shortage of reasons to enjoy this studio's library of films. Yet if I had to sum it up to one reason, then I suppose it would come down to the matter of creativity. With each of their films there has always featured a creative sense that has been reflected in the likes of storytelling, tone and animation. For this reason, I feel that Laika Entertainment personifies the concepts behind stop-motion animation, and creates true cinematic experiences that I hope to see again and again.
Check out the video below to learn more about Kubo's director and how he was inspired to create the visual masterpiece, now in theaters:
Make sure to catch Kubo and the Two Strings in theaters August 19th!