Kubo and the Two Strings captures the beauty and the essence of ancient Japan, while telling a story that is universally and unapologetically thrilling for all audiences.
Proving a resounding win for the American production company Laika, the stop-motion animation displayed in this film flows together to create a seamlessly realistic setting. Each scene was so perfectly crafted to its purpose that the viewer couldn’t help but be swept into the adventure of young Kubo, voiced by Art Parkinson.
The leading character, Kubo, is a boy living in a cave on the outskirts of a small Japanese village. He immediately shatters expectations of the traditional ‘hero’ role by showing compassion and responsibility caring for his mother, who has suffered a mental illness that renders her unresponsive until after sunset each day. The young protagonist uses these stories to earn a few coins, putting his magical gifts to work to make dancing origami figures that amaze the town people. This happy existence would not last long however, as Kubo must flee after being discovered by his vengeful grandfather. The adventure that takes place not only pushes all boundaries of the classic fairytale, but it drives home a powerful message about protecting and valuing your family. Kubo must face his fears and stand up to the moon god, who tries to tempt him into giving in to greed and abandoning his people.
Kubo is accompanied by his protectors Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey). They fight alongside Kubo in the battle to save his home from dark forces, and the friendship created is one of heartwarming endurance.There is no lack of playfulness however, which keeps the story light. Director Travis Knight has earned praise for the spot-on casting choices for each and every voice acting role. The dynamic created between the characters could be felt through the emotional richness of every line delivered by the talented cast.
The plot of this story stands out among today’s mainstream Hollywood material, and could certainly challenge any other run-of-the-mill animated film. Many are impressed by the content and the ability of the writers to bring to life a story that was unpredictable and still wholesome for any age group. The story is simple enough to be entertaining for a child, yet has a deeper sense of substance that will make an impression on any adult watching. This writer wholeheartedly agrees with the young woman who sold her the ticket when she said, “I would be surprised if it was not one of your top 5 favorite movies of all time!” Needless to say, if you did not catch this film in theaters, it is worth watching.
By Savannah Zachau