While the first trailer for Laika Studio’s Kubo And The Two Strings focused mostly on action and adventure, the final trailer adds some real pathos to the whimsical looking world. In the film, young shamisen player Kubo (voiced by Game Of Thrones’Art Parkinson) is forced to flee his village after he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit, and the trailer plays up the terrifying, disorienting nature of Kubo’s journey. Helped along by Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), Kubo must learn to control his magic and find his father’s protective armor, all while avoiding the clutches of Ralph Fiennes’ vengeful Moon King and Rooney Mara’s evil twin Sisters. If the final film is as epic, gorgeous, and heartfelt as this trailer, it could very well by Laika’s best since Coraline (sorry, Boxtrolls).
Unfortunately, the trailer’s release comes at a time when Hollywood has gotten a lot of flak for whitewashing Asian characters, including Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson in Ghost In The Shell, not to mention the residual frustrations with Emma Stone in Aloha and the failed campaign for an Asian Iron Fist. And while this film’s characters are definitely Japanese (and/or animals) and there’s a whole other debate to be had about where voice acting fits into the whitewashing debate, the lily-white main voice cast is, well, noticeable. To be fair, the film’s supporting cast has a lot more Asian actors, including George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. But on the other hand, those seem to be smaller roles, and aren’t even featured in the trailer.
But, hey, that instrumental cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” is pretty great, right? Kubo And The Two Strings brings all its evocative imagery and potentially troubling casting to theaters August 19.