Kubo And The Two Strings – Limited Edition Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

A couple months back, the fine folks over at Shout! Factory began the upgrade movement of the LAIKA films onto the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format with their first two films. Now, its time to complete that movement with their third and fourth as Kubo And The Two Strings and The Boxtrolls make their debut onto the format. As was before, these will feature new transfers and carry over all of the extras from the previous standard Blu-rays that were released by Shout! Factory. Again, there will be an option to pick these up in the collectible limited edition steelbook packaging if you’re wanting something spiffier for these wonderful movies. You can pre-order your copy now using the paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of the review. The Boxtrolls and Kubo And The Two Strings will be available on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on February 28th. For this review, we’ll take a look at Kubo And The Two Strings.


Originally published 9/19/2021.

Young Kubo’s (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to unlock a secret legacy. Armed with a magical instrument, Kubo must battle the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

LAIKA was building and building and build it seems to get to this ultimate apex. While their previous effort didn’t have quite the all-timer story as the first two films, Kubo and the Two Strings gets it all back on track. This is the kind of story that feels like all of the previous films had contributed some sort of element in the animation, storytelling and characters to culminate in this film. A sort of Voltron type effort of sorts.

This animation studio seems to have been geared to a lot of my personal cinematic tastes and passions. Of course, the first few have had a lot of horror influence upon them, and Kubo is no different here, but the fourth movie goes into the world of samurai films. They’ve certainly done the work and are as big of fans themselves, which such a knowledge and respect for the genre with what they have taken the time to animate to the screen. And at the same time, they’ve given it their own life, their own flavor and keeping in tune with their own brand/genre they are building.

In terms of the animation, Kubo has really launched them into giant efforts. There are big monsters here, sweeping big fantasy environments and more all over. This one really is a complete visual wonderland and almost poetic in its journey from scene to scene. It has the base of a literary epic come to life. Getting into the more minute details of the animation, they’ve done some impressive things with the clothing and characters as well. There’s a lot of clothing movements that likely get overlooked that are extremely difficult to pull off in stop motion animation, but they have accomplished that. Playing the instruments is no easy feat either. Yet, it comes across like another day at the office for LAIKA in the finished product.

For this reviewer, it is an extremely tough battle for my top LAIKA film, but the fact that I find three of them to argue to be on my favorite films list, that’s pretty terrific. Kubo and the Two Strings might very well be my favorite. As I was going through them, I was like “Oh wait, its Coraline.” Follow that with “No, how could it NOT be ParaNorman“. But when Kubo came its turn, I was like “Yeah, its definitely Kubo and the Two Strings.” And that’s really not a bad problem to have.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Kubo and the Two Strings looks pretty beautiful in its new 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray outfit that Shout! Factory has put out. There’s a lot more information on display and more confidence in how the film looks and and moves on the screen. Colors are even better saturated and the natural black levels help this image soar even more than their pretty impressive Blu-ray counterparts.

Depth:  Depth of field features a natural looking three dimensional image with plenty of space and pushback. The scale of the film feels present from the tiniest of the tiny to moments more epic in scope and sweeping. Movements are very stop motion like and natural, comfortable and confident in that element.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural. Nighttime scene looks absolutely marvelous now with the format able to handle the saturation better. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The color wheel is plenty beautiful and well saturated in this upgrade, showcasing even more definition, tint and pop to it. There’s plenty of HDR glow here in many scenes that feature high contrast. Reds, greens, blues and even more look lovely in their new 4K jacket.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Video Services, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Kubo and the Two Strings has been updated with a Dolby Atmos track for its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut. And it sounds marvelous. This one is loud and proud when it pushes through your system. Its well mixed flick with lots of love to go around the room from back to side to ceiling. There’s lots of terrific layering and depth to really give a natural and lived in effect to much of the foley work on display here. Its a pretty dynamic little presentation.

Height: There are plenty of things from above to hear, from magical beams, to creatures flying overhead to really just some things floating over camera.

Low Frequency Extension:  There is some good booming that comes from the music with the beating drums, humming strings and bass. Many of the big action scenes and sound effects give a good thump from the subwoofer with collisions, crashes, stomps, roaring waters and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: The room is littered with terrific little sounds and soundscapes to bring this imaginative world to life. From the sounds of clothing ruffling and characters traveling across the screen, it feels quite engaging and lifelike with terrific ambiance.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Attention to an actors diction and overall mouth sounds is pretty apparent and top notch.


Kubo And The Two Strings – Limited Edition Steelbook is a 2-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition previously released by Shout! Factory as well as a collectible steelbook packaging. Also included is an insert booklet. All extras are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • with Director/Producer Travis Knight

Inside LAIKA: Confronting the Epic Challenges of Kubo and the Two Strings (HD, 13:38) – Another terrific little piece showcasing how they continue to push what the LAIKA studio can do. This one goes into how the costumes and props became the challenge this time. Of course it goes into the design and creation of the films bigger elements and monsters as well.

Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team – The team brings out some of the old puppets from the film and reflects and motions them around a bit.

  • Little Hanzo (HD, 1:54)
  • Monkey (HD, 2:02)
  • The Sisters (HD, 1:45)
  • Beetle (HD, 1:46)
  • Moon King (HD, 2:05)
  • Mother (HD, 2:13)
  • Kubo (HD, 2:00)

Feature Length Storyboards (HD, 1:32:19)

Kubo’s Journey (HD, 28:27)

Corners of the Earth (HD, 3:06) 

The Myth of Kubo (HD, 2:33)

Still Galleries (HD) – Character Art, Concept Art, Behind The Scenes

Trailer (HD, 1:00)


On a given day, Kubo And The Two Strings is my favorite Laika film. Shout! Factory has put out a great upgrade to their previous Blu-ray release with this new 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray makeover. I rather loved the improvement on the 4K image and the Atmos jump for the sound. All of the extras from before are here and you can get a neat little steelbook if you so choose. Fans of Laika definitely want to grab this when they are ready.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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