Kubo and the Two Strings
review by Bobby Blakey
LAIKA has been delivering some of the best and beautiful animated films in years including The Boxtrolls, Paranorman and Coraline. Their latest feature Kubo and the Two Strings looks to step things up even further and features a great cast including Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Art Parkinson, but will it bring all of their usual visual mastery along with a captivating story or will it fail to hit the right note?
Kubo and the Two Strings film follows the clever, kindhearted Kubo who ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato, Hashi, and Kameyo. But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey and Beetle, and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King and the evil twin Sisters, to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny. I am a huge fan of all the films that have come out of LAIKA so far , but Kubo might be my favorite to date. The story is well crafted and offers up some fun moments, but also has depth often missing from these guys of films. The Asian culture showcased throughout was clearly thought out and honored in the way it was executed and in turn creates a beautiful landscape for the story to inhabit.
The voice cast all do a great job bringing their respected characters to life, but was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get more from George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. They both have such distinctive voices it would have been so great to hear more from them. LAIKA always offers up some amazing visuals and here it is no different. Their use of origami as a focal point in the story is not only an amazingly create visual experience, but also gives it a fresh approach. Often times they offer up some strange character designs in their films, but here they kept the look more natural, but still made sure to give each character their own unique look and feel. There are some great action pieces injected into this story that are entertain and often a on the darker side.
This is a near flawless film that steps up the animated film game to new heights. They have a sequence involving the biggest stop motion character ever I believe and while you may not realize it when watching the film, they show a cool montage during the credits to see them bring it to life. Whether you are fan of their previous films or not this is such an amazingly beautiful and well done film that should be seen by everyone.