Kubo and the Two Strings is a magical experience from beginning to end. Created by Laika studios, a company that has produced countless classics from Coraline to Boxtrolls, Kubo already feels like an instant classic. The story follows Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), a boy in ancient Japan, who lives in a cave with his mother.
Every day Kubo travels down to a village to tell the people stories of a great Samurai’s adventures. With the help of his magical shamisen (an instrument similar to a guitar) pieces of origami come to life turning into anything from monsters, to samurai, to clothing to help him tell the stories. However Kubo can never finish his stories because he must always return to his cave before sundown by his mother’s request. You soon realize that all of the stories he has told are true and the Samurai in the stories is Kubo’s father. One day Kubo does stay out after sundown and is attacked by his evil aunts sent by Kubo’s grandfather, the moon King. Kubo escapes and learns that he must go find a magical suit of armor and a powerful sword from his stories to defeat the moon King. On his adventure he encounters new friends including a protective talking monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and a Samurai who was transformed into a beetle (voiced by Mathew McConaughey). Together they search for the armor and sword, fighting beasts and Kubo’s aunts in the process.
The magic of Kubo and the Two Strings lie in the films ability to tell the story in a way that is easy to accept. Not once did I question what was going on. Everyone’s motivations for their actions are completely understood and the plot is easy to follow. This story, not unlike other Laika films, feel like a bedtime story, starting with once upon a time and ending with happily ever after.
In addition to the genius of the storytelling. The beauty of the film also lies in its animation. Kubo and the two strings was made by a style of animating called “stop-motion animation”. This is where they use actual puppets and models and take individual photos of the scenes, slowly moving the figures piece by piece and once the photos are put together it looks like motion. This art style is a very time consuming process that usually requires years to produce a good product. Laika has said that it takes them a week to produce about 4.5 seconds of the film. Kubo took 5 years to make, and includes hundreds of different creatures and people. Possibly the film’s greatest triumph is a fourteen foot model of one of the monsters Kubo must fight. But do not think that because they are puppets these characters are lifeless. I found myself connecting with these characters in a way that a children’s movie has not done for me in a long time.
From start to finish, you can feel the love put into this film.This is a movie that all ages will enjoy and appreciate equally. A grandfather will enjoy this film just as much as his grandchild. My only warning is that some of the fighting can get pretty intense and some of the monsters may be scary to younger viewers. While I don’t think this should stop you from seeing the movie, taking that into consideration and potentially telling your child that this is in the movie would be helpful to fully appreciate the film. From the tender relationship between the mother and son, to the tension between Kubo and his grandfather. This film might be the best film to come out this year.
–>I give Kubo and the Two Strings a solid 5/5