Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic stop-motion animation set in a beautifully realized ancient Japan. It follows the journey of Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), a kindhearted boy whose quiet and tranquil existence is disturbed when his haunted past catches up to him. On the run from ancient spirits seeking revenge, Kubo is joined by his protectors – Monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey). Together, they set out on a thrilling quest to find the samurai sword and armor that can defeat the vengeful spirit, and reunite Kubo with his family.
So, why is Kubo a fitting first review?
First, Kubo is a mesmerizing stop-motion animation from LAIKA, the studio that created Coraline and ParaNorman. Those two films showed glimpses of the creativity that is synonymous with Studio Ghibli, but it is Kubo, for me, that cemented LAIKA as a potential replacement for Studio Ghibli during their hiatus. It is unfortunate that studios such as LAIKIA and Ghibli, whose dedication to creating movie magic is often not recognized by the general movie goer. On the “FilmisNOW” youtube channel there is a 15 mins behind the scenes (click here) showing the technical marvel behind this film. It is clear that Kubo only exists due to the passion and dedication of the team at LAIKA. Bravo.
Second, Kubo does a brilliant job of telling a heartfelt family story that is wrapped up in an exciting action-adventure tale. The story has something to offer audiences of all ages – not just kids. Kids will love the wonderfully choreographed action scenes, but it is the adults among the audience that will appreciate the deeper meaning behind the emotion and action of our protagonists. The bond between Kubo, Monkey and Beetle felt real and tangible. Art Parkinson did a solid job of voicing Kubo, but for me, it is Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey that brought the character of Monkey and Beetle to life. Monkey was full of gravitas while Beetle was non-stop entertainment. The back and forth between Monkey and Beetle was gold. They can easily fit into an episode of Friends and I would consume it in an instant.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a fantastic film on many levels. It has fun and engaging characters and a thrilling story that appeals to both young and old. To top it off, it is a stop-motion animation. The fact that this film was shot frame by frame still blows my mind!
LAIKA – BE BOLD. BE BRAVE. BE EPIC. And be sure to make more films like this!
Rating: Drop everything and watch Kubo and the Two Strings in the cinema.