Kubo and the two strings review: A gorgeous and enchanting stop-motion!
The Oregon-based production house Laika has already proved that it churns out quality stuff with Coraline(2009), Paranorman (2012), and The Boxtrolls (2014). Laika’s films have an out-of-the-box appeal and a twisted sense of humor which makes for a worthy tale. Kubo and the Two Strings, directed by Laika CEO Travis Knight, is beautiful from the word go and spins a story that is all kinds of awesome. While Paranorman and Coraline had a morbid tone, Kubo and the Two Strings is more cheery and colorful in nature, though the theme is quite mature and complex. In a time where CGI is the key tool in creating flashy and superfluous animated flicks, this is a superbly welcoming change with its layered texture of adventure and action with elements of love, loss and memories.
Kubo and The Two Strings tells the story of Kubo, a 11-year old Japanese boy who lives with his mother in a rock cave on the outskirts of a small town. His mother tells him stories about his father Hanzo, who was a warrior and saved Kubo’s life by sacrificing himself. These stories he hears from his mother are visually presented by him in the village square which the ecstatic crowd immensely enjoys. Kubo carries a musical instrument which when played transforms the origami paper into different forms as Kubo likes. The genius of the visionaries behind this venture is displayed on full scale here when Kubo plays the instrument and the papers fly though telling his story. The music by Dario Marianelli only helps to elevate the sequence to a whole new level of spectacle and you’ll witness the improvement that Laika has made in its visuals! He’s not able to complete the story as he has to return home before it goes dark otherwise the Moon King will snatch his other eye. Kubo doesn’t follow the rule one day and is attacked by his aunts, the twin sisters of his mother. His mother comes to his rescue and sacrifices herself; the next thing we know is that Kubo is stranded in a blizzard with a monkey talking to him, asking him to find Hanzo’s invisible armor. From there on, Kubo and Mr. Monkey traverse through different landscapes, battling different monsters and adding another member, a warrior beetle, making it a trio.
Marc Haimes and Chris Butler develop a screenplay that caters to both the children and adults alike. The story is poignant with every character given a chance to shine. To top that, Travis Knight and his team do a marvelous job of getting that story on screen with jaw-dropping animation which is crisp and beautiful! Kubo and The Two Strings is huge in scope unlike the other films by Laika but it only adds to the beauty of it. Its fascinating that the movie is strikingly dark and also sparkling in colors at the same time. Kubo is voiced by Art Parkinson, the actor from Game of Thrones, who brings the flair of an adult and the cheekiness of a kid in equal measures. With his one eye patched up, Kubo looks strong and gives a vibe of a warrior; at the same time he is sweet as a kid who loves to play with his instrument. the character which was second best according to me was the twin sisters (voiced by Rooney Mara). They were stunningly dark and menacing to look at and Rooney gives them the perfect villainous voice. Monkey and Beetle were the cherry on top with all their banter and their unique relationship with Kubo.
With few twists here and there as the story progresses, the characters seamlessly sync with the script and make us root for them. Kubo and The Two Strings tackles the elements of love and memories, focusing more on the latter. It is hard not to emotionally connect to the movie at some point. The visuals as already said, are top-notch. A special mention to the creation-of-the-ship-from-the-leaves and the giant-skeleton sequence; A pure delight! Both creations are strikingly different in nature but they co-exist in the same film. That says a lot about it. And that is one of the reasons you’ll remember this movie for a long time. For me, memories are powerful things, and Kubo and The Two Strings creates a memory of an unforgettable journey which is to be cherished dearly. This is the best animated movie of the year hands down and a bloody must-watch!