REVIEW – “Kubo and the Two Strings”
Origami is dope in this movie
Kubo and the Two Strings is directed by Travis Knightm and stars a very impressive voice cast of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei and Art Parkinson. This film tells the story of a young boy named Kubo who, in a strange turn of events, must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. This is the newest Laika film, whose previous efforts include Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls. Kubo and the Two Strings is a visual masterpiece with jaw dropping animation sequences, and heavy themes, that is unfortunately cursed with a bland story. It is one of the better animated movies of the year.
This is Travis Knight’s first time sitting in the director’s chair, and it’s definitely a strong debut after having served as lead animator on the previous Laika productions. This is a mature tale that deals with themes like death, family, growing up, love and how freaking cool Origami is. As a fan of stop motion I’ve come to expect great animation, and, oh boy, does this film deliver. Kubo boasts some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. Every single shot in this movie is meticulously crafted, and could be a painting. Some scenes made my jaw drop at the amount of talent and care that had to have gone into it, and some scenes had me convinced this was a live action film. The characters are crafted with such detail that they’re not cartoon anymore. Environments are lush and almost photo realistic, but that being said some scenes are so unrealistic you can’t help but be wowed by this new world you’ve been transported to. So I kinda liked the animation. however, animation is sadly the best part of this.
This movie deals with very heavy themes, and honestly surprised me. While I enjoyed and picked up on the themes I don’t think many kids will understand or even notice them. I found Kubo’s relationship with his mother at the start so interesting and compelling I could of watched a whole movie about it, alas it was not the main focus. That being said, I did enjoy where this went, and while what it had to say wasn’t new or original it is definitely a good message for kids. I found the plot very simple, but it works; though it didn’t delve into the themes as much as I would of liked. There was also a difficulty introducing some characters, and the mix of humor was clunky. We start off with little to no jokes so the suddenly injected humor was a bit jarring. Not to say it’s bad or unfunny, just when it was introduced it kinda felt out of place but eventually it does mesh well with the plot.
Now to say the cast is great would be redundant. Charlize Theron probably steals the show as monkey; She was incredible. Kids will love monkey, heck, I love monkey. She is a strong likable character, and she contributes a lot. Art Parkinson provides the voice of Kubo, and I’ve never really seen him in anything but he did an excellent job. He voiced the part well, and gave us a hero to root for. Matthew McConaughey was also amazing in this. He is very funny, and adds a great deal of heart. While it does not make up for the disappointment known as Free State Of Jones it is yet another great McConaughey performance. It will be interesting to see if he continues with voice acting. Eh, He probably wont. The last character, or characters, I’ll talk about are The Sisters. The Sisters are terrifying. Rooney Mara does the voice for both of them, and they’re probably the scariest thing I’ve seen in an animated film. If I was scared of them, then kids will definitely be scared. If you see Kubo watch out for crying little ones haha.
All praise aside this does have some problems. At times it is more interested in the animation than the actual story. While that’s understandable it’s not an excuse. There are some lazy dialogue moments and the story, while simple, gets confusing at points. Also, after the first 20 minutes it makes a complete 180 in terms of tone. Character motivations don’t really make sense near the end, and an aspect of the ending was a bit confusing. I just don’t see anything particularly exceptional in this story besides the animation. It’s certainly better than The Angry Birds Movie, but it never emotionally connected with me. Kubo has a good story for kids and they will like it, I was just expecting a little more. Kid’s movies have delivered great stories along side great animation in the past so I don’t think I was asking for too much from this.
Kubo and the Two Strings never reached the level it should have. It falls in line with stop motion films like The Boxtrolls or The Pirates! Band of Misfits. It never reaches the level of Fantastic Mr. Fox or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Stop motion flicks can either successfully balance stunning visuals and a great story, or spend much more time on animation than story. Kubo unfortunately falls into the 2nd category. While none of those movies are bad by any stretch of the imagination, they’re just not exceptional. Side Note: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a perfect film. Just thought I should mention that. 3/5
In short, Kubo and the Two Strings is a stunning visual treat with a great cast that is lacking in the story department.
Please see this in theaters so more stop animation film are made. There is a huge lack of these movies, and we need more.
Sausage Party is still the best animated movie of the year.