Starring: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Rooney Mara, Brenda Vaccaro, and more.
Directed by: Travis Knight Screenplay by: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler Story by: Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes Cinematography by: Frank Passingham Music by: Dario Marianelli
Premise: Kubo enjoys telling stories. It lets him connect to others and also to his ailing mother. In her lucid moments, she's warned him time and again never to be out after dark. That those who took his eye as a baby will be able to find him and take his other eye as well. Despite his intentions to do as he's been told, Kubo doesn't make it back in time one day. His mother's otherworldly sisters catch his scent. Now he has no choice but to run and try to find the fabled mystic armor pieces in his stories to save try to himself. (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Art Parkinson is adorable as Kubo. His emotions come across very well. Charlize Theron as the reserved Monkey was also a lot of fun. Matthew McConaughey does a great job as the cursed samurai Beetle. Brenda Vaccaro and George Takei add a nice, amusing backdrop for Kubo's normal days at the village.
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Laika does amazing stop motion films. "Kubo and the Two Strings" is another fine addition to their gorgeous repertoire of work. The use of paper and moving origami was inspired. A neat new tactile and visual realm to explore. Gorgeous!
Amazing visuals appear throughout the film. The giant waves at the beginning were amazing. And though he is but a bit of paper, the origami samurai is totally awesome. It adds a neat non-verbal character to the mix. (All the stories told via moving origami were so cool!)
Loved how Hanzo looked like Toshiro Mifune. (The Moon King looks like Peter Cushing! Nice choice! heh heh)
3) Plot/Story - Neutral: As amazing as the stop motion animation is, the plot overall was a major letdown. They do a lot of build up on the importance and power of the sword and armor. But when they get them, the three objects are actually pretty useless. Yet these pieces were supposedly the main driving force for two sets of events! As powerless as the objects turned out to be, the importance placed on them made no sense. :(
Some of Monkey's attitudes don't jyve later when we find out one of the reveals. Also, though the Japanese believe in spirits and magic, it seemed out of place that the villagers didn't make more of Kubo's super unusual skills. (Aside from loving his storytelling that is.)
Old Japanese stories are usually tragic. This one definitely continues the trend as well, but then they try to cheat and fool the audience into a supposed "happy ending". But it isn't... *sigh*
Several themes are explored - the meaning of humanity, of family, treasuring the little things, light and darkness, ying and yang. There are a few minor surprises. One of which made some of the earlier sections of the film not make sense. Oh well...
4) Music - Total Thumbs Up: Dario Marianelli's score was lovely. Lots of string music with a marked oriental feel. Nice!
Conclusion: Kubo and the Two Strings is an amazing piece of animation. Unfortunately, the story itself wasn't of the same caliber. Gorgeous work though.
Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)