Back to IndieWire

Is Laika’s Creative Loop Real or Imaginary?

Is Laika's Creative Loop Real or Imaginary?

Portland-based animation studio Laika are currently hot
stuff. They only have two completed features with a third on the way but they
have managed to garner plenty of critical and fan acclaim in addition to decent
commercial success with films Coraline and ParaNorman. Their latest film, The
, is set for release in September, 2014 but it’s similarity to it’s
sister films once again raises the question as to whether Laika is stuck in a
creative loop of sorts.

Of course, that isn’t to say that they make poor films; far
from it. They’ve been rightfully praised for not only their superb quality, but
also for offering an alternative to the brazen CGI comedic efforts of other
studios. The decision to go in the the dark, scary direction obviously sets
them apart and they play that to maximum stop-motion advantage with all kinds
of weird and wacky characters, sets and special effects along the way.

That said, all three films share an inescapably similar look
and tone – take another look at the trailers below. They’re dark and quirky in the horror mold and have kids as their
central character. It could be argued that Laika have discovered a bit of a
niche and have settled into it quite nicely by creating films with a known and
winning formula. Proof of being stuck in a creative loop surely, no?

On the other hand however, it’s necessary to consider their
output in the grander scheme of things. Laika have proven to be the only
animation studio not to suffer from sequalitis and their films, while sharing
similar traits, could not be said to be as overtly similar as pretty much all
the 3-D CGI features that hit the market after Shrek. For that alone, they
continue to be a pioneer and innovator of feature animation.

Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.

This Article is related to: Features and tagged ,



Boxtrolls hasn't come out yet, and neither of the trailers showed any actual dialog or scenes from the film (other than in montage). How can we judge tone? Also, it's set in a Victorian English town at the turn-of-the-century… that seems pretty different than modern day Massachusetts or Portland…


Charles Kenny wrote that, " … all three [of LAIKA's] films share an inescapably similar look and tone …"

as opposed to …?

can you name a studio whose cartoons didn't/doesn't share a similar look and tone? if you saw an animated cartoon without its titles from mgm, or warner brothers, or famous studios, or hanna barbera, or jay ward, or miyazaki, or Pixar, etc etc … wouldn't you find " … an inescapably similar look and tone …" ?

and doesn't this apply to all artists? music artists (Sinatra, Presley), fine artists (Picasso, Rembrandt), writers (Vonnegut, Poe), etc all have themes and styles that they prefer and repeat, and their work is also instantly recognizable.

that Laika would choose certain styles of art and certain story themes is neither unusual nor unexpected.

Jason F

As much as I adore their previous films, my major issue with Laika (or at least their marketing) is that their major selling point is "the crafting" of their films. So many of the ads for their films are essentially "look how meticulous we are," when a much better direction is to hook the audience with the story. To an artist or an animator, we can appreciate and admire the work that goes into one of their films, but children/families/average movie goers probably don't find that as interesting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *