In a time of sequels, prequels, and reboots, Focus Features delivers an original masterpiece in stop-motion animation. From the studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls comes a truly enchanting story of magic, spirits, and fate. Kubo and The Two Strings is a compelling narrative following the young boy Kubo on his journey to defeat the Moon King. Combined with a moving soundtrack and stunningly life-like animation, this is truly a movie that stands out from the rest.
If you must blink, do it now.
Our story takes place in ancient Japan; Kubo is a one-eyed street performer with a unique talent. Using his magical musical abilities, he tells stories of the great Samurai Hanzo through the manipulation of origami paper. Before he is able to finish his stories, Kubo must return home at the chime to tend to his ailing mother, Sariatu, who warns him to never get caught outside their home after dark. She worries that her Sisters and his grandfather, the Moon King, will come and take his other eye. Unfortunately, Kubo disobeys his mother when he learns of a ceremony the locals take part in to communicate with their dead family. Wishing to speak to his father, Kubo stays out as the sun sets and his own journey truly begins.
Kubo embarks on a quest to collect various objects that will allow him to defeat the Moon King. He is joined by a protector sent by his mother, Monkey, and a cursed samurai called Beetle. Together, the three must search the land for the mysterious artifacts while avoiding Sariatu’s sisters, and eventually defeat the Moon King.
Your magic is growing stronger.
Kubo and the Two Strings takes on the guise of an ancient legend. The story is compelling and unique, and it doesn’t feel the need to explain everything away. It doesn’t hold the audience’s hand or have copious backstory; that’s something I really enjoyed. The quest had a very fun sense of adventure with a side of urgency that seemed to increase when each artifact was discovered. The battles had the perfect amount of tension and the scenes moved along very quickly, balancing the action with interesting twists and heartfelt moments.
The movie managed to hit all the points a decent narrative should: character building, intense scenes, comedy, and a solid ending. I absolutely loved the incorporation of the title and the refreshing turns the story took. While Kubo hit the perfect tone for me, there are some parts that could be frightening for young children. Then again, if a child could watch Coraline, then he or she would have no problem with this movie.
Don’t mess with the Monkey.
One of Kubo’s greatest accomplishments, hands down, is the animation. This is a visually stunning work of art. Stop-motion animation doesn’t normally grab my attention, but when coupled with a compelling story, I can’t resist. The animation is simply remarkable almost to the point of realistic.
The film also has incredible voice talent in Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, and Ralph Fiennes. Even George Takei makes an appearance, and each of the actors fill their role well. When matched with an intense soundtrack, this film truly hits all of the perfect notes.
The impressive animation pairs with captivating story-telling to create a truly original movie. I could only hope that distinctive works of art start to get a foothold in a time focused on rehashes and sequels. Kubo and the Two Strings is most definitely worth seeing. So how about you? Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? What did you think? Does your guitar gentle weep, too? Let us know in the comments below!