While I think all animation is a magic trick that remains just as impressive now as the first time I saw it as a child, there are certainly levels of difficulty, and stop-motion animation is a special kind of lunacy. I’ve visited enough stop-motion sets to be awed by the skill set it requires for someone to effectively bring a character to life using such a difficult and painstaking method. It is sincerely meant then as praise when I say that I can’t imagine the single-minded pursuit of vision it took to bring Kubo and the Two Strings to life, and Travis Knight is, indeed, a madman.
Travis Knight is, like Megan Ellison, a rich kid doing something profoundly interesting with the position of privilege they found themselves in. Ellison has fascinating taste as a producer, and she’s become a sort of life raft for filmmakers who might otherwise not find a willing patron in today’s commercial climate. Knight’s lifelong fascination with stop-motion animation led him to Laika, a company that has built a very strange and lovely filmography over the course of their first decade. Coraline is a film I adore, even as I acknowledge that it is absolutely terrifying to children. You can’t call that a movie for kids because most kids can’t make it through the thing. It is pure nightmare machine to them. I really like Paranorman, a film that feels like the kind of scary that is just scary enough for young audiences, smart without pulling any punches. I’m not crazy about The Boxtrolls, but it is technically just as dazzling as their other work.